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Welcome to Institute for Microbial Biotechnology and Metagenomics (IMBM)

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The Institute for Microbial Biotechnology and Metagenomics is headed by Professor Marla Trindade as
Director. Recognized as one of the leading research units at UWC, IMBM forms part of the Department
of Biotechnology, IMBM is dedicated to excellence in research and in the training of future research
leaders. In addition, it contributes to the Department’s undergraduate teaching activities.


IMBM is accommodated in the New Life Sciences Building, providing state-of- the-art research facilities
and equipment. In 2011 we launched the Next Generation Sequencing Facility, designed to provide a
regional and national high throughput sequencing service. The platform, boasts 2 sequencers (Roche GS
Junior and an Illumina MiSeq), a Lightcycler and Bioanalyser. The Institute was also recently awarded
another NRF NEP grant for the acquisition of a BD FACS Aria III cell sorter. Together with the sequencing
capacity available, this combination of equipment enables the establishment of the first single cell
genomics platform in South Africa.


The IMBM team encompasses between 30 and 40 post graduate students/researchers, administrative
and technical staff. The Principal Investigators leading the research activities are Prof. Marla Trindade,
Dr. Bronwyn Kirby and Dr. Anita Burger. In addition, Dr. Heide Goodman, Mr. Lonnie van Zyl and Leo
Blackwell assist in aspects of Institute management, as do all academic staff.


The research interests within the Institute are broad and include Environmental and Plant Microbiology,
Metagenomics, Applied Genomics, Marine Biotechnology, Enzymology and Structural Biology. IMBM
researchers employ and develop modern and leading-edge technologies for metagenomic gene
discovery and molecular ecology research. We have extensive skill in the cloning, expression, and
recovery of heterologous genes, and the technology and skill to conduct detailed physical and functional
characterization of novel enzymes. We have accumulated an extensive collection of microbial isolates
(3000+ marine sponge isolates, 300+ thermophilic bacteria, 100 psychrotrophic bacteria, 100
actinomycetes and several extremophilic bacteriophages), metagenomic libraries and environmental
DNA preparations. These materials constitute a highly valuable resource for the identification of novel
genes, metabolic pathways and secondary metabolites. With the Proteomics and Sequencing facilities
within the Department, we are ideally positioned for “omics” research, and are involved in the
comparative assessment of microbial growth, gene expression, engineered strains and much more.


 

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