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uwcThe Institute for Microbial  Biotechnology and Metagenomics (IMBM) is a leading research unit based within the Department of Biotechnology at the University of the Western Cape (UWC). Our research employs culture-based approaches as well as cutting edge  ”omics”  strategies to study microbiomes and identify novel biosynthetic gene clusters and metabolites.  The Institute focuses on the research and development of novel,  high - value natural products for the pharmaceutical, cosmeceutical, food and beverage and agricultural industries, as well as products for industrial processes.


1. As part of 2 EU-funded consortia (PharmaSea and Ocean Medicines), this project focuses on marine bacteria shown to produce anti-convulsant, anti-cancer, anti-microbial or anti-inflammatory activities. Through genome sequencing and genetic engineering strategies in parallel with chemistry-guided isolation, we aim to: i) link novel metabolites to the biosynthetic pathways encoding them, and ii) develop over-expression strains for target pathways and compounds.

2. We are developing a portfolio of biosurfactants for use in a variety of industrial processes. The project involves the isolation and characterisation (chemical, structural and performance) of novel biosurfactants, as well as the upscaling of biosurfactant production.

Minimum Criteria:

Applicants must have completed a PhD degree within no more than 5 years in a foundational discipline relevant to the topic. Experience in natural product discovery and genomics is an advantage. Applicants should have a strong publication record, interpersonal skills, project management experience, and be able to effectively conduct research as part of a multi-disciplinary team.


Application Submission:

The candidate will be under the supervision of Prof. Marla Trindade who holds a DST/NRF Research Chair in Microbial Genomics. Applicants are to submit their CV and covering letter to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


UWC Place of quality


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Professor Chrissie Rey

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WorkshopThe National Gene Expression and Biotechnology Training Workshop has been a highly successful annual training course for postgraduate students seeking supplementary grounding in the principles and application of molecular and cell biology techniques. About 100 students from 11 different universities have participated so far. There is no application fee, and lodging and board are free of charge. Thirty applicants will be selected for the 2016 session. Applications should be submitted online HERE.

Published in SASM News

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.

Published in Research Highlights

PUBThe Public Understanding of Biotechnology (PUB) programme is celebrating 10 years of informing the South African public on issues of biotechnology.

Published in SASM News

SBBE 2012

A conference on “Structural Biology for the Bioeconomy: Infectious Diseases and Biotechnology” will be held at the University of Cape Town from 1 December to 2012 to 4 December 2012. The conference will immediately precede the annual conference of the Microscopy Society of Southern Africa (4-7 December 2012) and will be held in the same venue on the University of Cape Town campus.  The conference website is http://www.sbbe.co.za and more about the organisers can be found here: http://www.sbbe.co.za/structural-biology-conference-organisers/

Published in Conference News