The South African Society for Microbiology wishes to congratulate two of its members who were honoured with the Department of Science and Technology's (DST) Women in Science Awards in Johannesburg on Thursday (13 August 2015). The awards are organised and presented by the Department of Science and Technology in recognition of the achievements of woman scientists and their profile as role models for woman in science. The theme for the 2015 awards was “Science for a Sustainable Future” with special reference to the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015 13:14

SASM2016: Update

Written by

SASM 2016

The South African Society for Microbiology's 19th Biennial Congress, SASM2016, will be held at the Coastlands Umhlanga Convention Centre, Durban, from the 17th to the 20th of January 2016. SASM2016 is organised by Durban University of Technology. Online registration and abstract submission details are now available.

Please note the following updates:

CeBERThe ASTER™ process is commercially used to bioremediate cyanide- (CN-) and thiocyanate- (SCN-) containing waste water, typically, from cyanidation of refractory gold ores. There are currently three industrial-scale ASTER™ processes in operation worldwide. This aerobic bioprocess reduces the CN- and SCN- concentrations to below 1 mg/L in a continuous system, facilitating reuse or safe discharge of process water. To date, the microbial consortia associated with this bioprocess have been poorly characterized and, as a result, the relative abundance and diversity of the community has been significantly under-represented. Researchers within the Centre for Bioprocess Engineering Research (CeBER) at the University of Cape Town, together with those at the University of California, Berkeley are employing a molecular approach, including 16S rRNA gene surveys and metagenomic analysis, to study CN- and SCN- biodegradation within laboratory-scale reactors.

Figure 1Lepidopteran insects such as the false codling moth, Thaumatotibia leucotreta (Meyrick), the African bollworm, Helicoverpa armigera (Hübner), the codling moth (Cydia pomonella, L.), the potato tuber moth (Phthorimaea operculella (Zeller) and the diamondback moth, Plutella xylostella (L.) (Figure 1) are serious crop pests in South Africa, with considerable economic impact on various agricultural crops.

Gold nanoparticlesThere has been growing focus on the potential to use gold nanoparticles as tools in the field of bionanotechnology because of their unique optical, electronic and molecular recognition properties. Gold nanoparticles are known to be fairly stable and are regarded as generally bio-compatible. However, some studies have reported that these nanoparticles could be toxic to some organisms, including bacteria. The mechanism by which gold nanoparticles may confer toxicity to E. coli cells remains to be fully understood.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015 17:15

Pathways of infection

Written by

LipidsUniversity of the Free StateResearch into the molecular mechanisms of common yeasts and bacteria at the University of the Free State in South Africa seeks to exploit the roles of lipid molecules as instigators of disease symptoms towards development of new therapeutics and antifungal agents.

SASM2016 BursarySASM will sponsor the conference fees of 25 deserving students (5 Hons, 10 MSc and 10 PhD students) presenting at the SASM2016 congress in Umhlanga in January 2016.

Saturday, 04 July 2015 09:27

SASM2016 - SASM's 19th Biennial Congress

Written by

SASM 2016The South African Society for Microbiology's 19th Biennial Congress, SASM2016, will be held at the Coastlands Umhlanga Convention Centre, Durban, from the 17th to the 20th of January 2016. SASM2016 is organised by Durban University of Technology. Online registration and abstract submission details are now available.

S cerevisiaeL-carnitine, a medically relevant, amino acid-derived molecule is a valuable target for biotechnological production. Researchers at the Institute for Wine Biotechnology, Stellenbosch University has recently provided the first report of a metabolically engineered carnitine producing strain of the industrial yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, an organism that does not natively produce its own carnitine. This was achieved by cloning and reconstructing the Neurospora crassa L-carnitine biosynthesis pathway in the baker’s yeast to create an L-carnitine producing strain. The engineered yeast strains are able to catalyze the synthesis of L-carnitine from the pathway’s precursor, trimethyllysine, as well as from intermediates. Several native S. cerevisiae genes were identified that contribute to, or interfere with, the heterologous pathway. This includes (i) the threonine aldolase Gly1p which effectively catalyzed the second step of the pathway, fulfilling the role of a serine hydroxymethyltransferase, (ii) the arginine transporter Can1p which was identified as the yeast transporter for trimethyllysine, and (iii) the two serine hydroxymethyltransferases, Shm1p and Shm2p, which reduced the flux through the heterologous pathway. The work opens opportunities for using an engineered, L-carnitine producing S. cerevisiae strain in various industrial applications.

A plant's survival is determined by its ability to tolerate stress that arises from physical, chemical and biological events. For example, nutrient limitation affects cellular functions, and consequently, plant development. This could be due to nutrient depletion or inaccessibility as nutrients such as phosphorus and iron could be locked up in complex compounds in the soil. In addition, plants have to withstand harsh environmental conditions such as heat, winds, torrent storms and drought. Disease-causing pathogens and pesticides are another threat that reduce a plant’s fitness.

Page 6 of 14