You are interested in the genetic background of South African medicinal plants and associated microorganisms, are keen to learn molecular biology techniques and biochemical analysis methods, and want to know more about bio-‐computational data analysis.
Rooibos (Aspalathus linearis) is an endemic South African medicinal plant from the fynbos biome, widely used for its anti-‐colic, anti-‐allergic, and anti-‐aging properties. It comprises a very diverse community of ecotypes that differ significantly in their morphology, chemical compoundproduction, as well as nutrient acquisition and fire survival strategies. The genetic components of this diversity are barely explored. The medicinal properties are mainly associated with the production of polyphenols, but the biosynthetic pathways have not been resolved. Moreover, rooibos hosts a plethora of symbiotic microorganisms that may affect plant growth and compound production.
In this project, we aim to investigate the genetic background of rooibos and associated microorganisms using a meta‐transcriptomics approach.
The MSc project will primarily focus on the collection and biochemical characterization of rooibos ecotypes, and the extraction and sequencing of RNA from rooibos tissues. The project also involves establishment of cDNA normalization procedures to optimize sequencing results. Upon performance, it is planned to send the student for training to the Sequencing Facility at the University of Kentucky (USA).
BSc (Hons) in Biological/Medical/Agricultural Sciences