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The Institute for Microbial Biotechnology and Metagenomics is headed by Professor Marla Trindade as Director. Recognised 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 postgraduate 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 characterisation of novel enzymes. We have accumulated an extensive collection of microbial isolates (3000+ marine sponge isolates, 300+ thermophilic bacteria, 100 psychotropic 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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