When we think of microbes, one of the first things that come to mind is that they can cause disease. Although the minority of microbes are pathogenic, they significantly impact our lives regarding our well-being and economic activities involving animals. Understanding the pathogenic microbes and the biochemistry of certain non-infectious diseases will undoubtedly improve treatment and lead to a better quality of life.

Bacteria & Virus



INFECTIOUS HUMAN DISEASES

Rotavirus infection causes diarrhoea in many species, including birds and livestock. In young children and infants, rotavirus infection can be fatal. Current research focuses on:

  • Understanding host-pathogen interactions, primarily how the virus interacts with cellular lipids
  • Virus strain diversity to inform vaccine development and monitoring
  • Diverse vaccine development approaches for potential application in Sub-Saharan Africa

Yeasts belonging to Candida and Cryptococcus are essential pathogens in immunocompromised persons. Current research focuses on:

  • The role of oxylipins in host-microbe interactions and mixed infections
  • Yeast lipid metabolism as a potential control target

Culture petri dishes

ECG 2

Phage

Hyphi

INFECTIOUS ANIMAL DISEASES

The world is running out of antibiotics – which may make large-scale animal production impossible in the future. Bacterial vaccine development and phage therapy with phages or phage enzymes are possible tools for the control of bacterial diseases in this post-antibiotic era, but there are limitations to these approaches. The best option is improved biosecurity through the correct use of disinfectants. A relatively new field of study, resistance to disinfectants, has become the main focus of our research efforts. Efforts are being made to fully understand the mechanisms of resistance to disinfectants and how this can be transferred between bacterial species. Areas of research include transcriptomics to understand which genes play a role in resistance, evaluation of efflux pumps and efflux pump inhibitors, metabolism of disinfectants, biofilm formation and horizontal gene transfer, including the presence of resistance islands in bacterial species. The links between antibiotic and disinfectant resistance are also receiving attention, and the possibility that the transfer of resistance elements may also transfer virulence factors needs further investigation.

STEROL METABOLISM

Cholesterol is a sterol found in all animals and is the precursor from which the steroid hormones are derived. Cholesterol and plant sterols are structurally very similar. Plant sterols are included in functional foods and can lower serum cholesterol, but the exact mechanism of action is not yet fully elucidated. Current studies are focused on:

  • Determining how different animals metabolise plant sterols
  • Determining faecal steroid hormone levels as indicators of animal well-being and reproductive status

Prof Carlien Pohl-Albertyn

Prof Carolina Pohl-Albertyn

Bioactive lipids
Pathogenic yeasts
Biofilms
PohlCH@ufs.ac.za

Prof Robert Bragg

Prof Robert Bragg

Infectious diseases in animals
Virology and bacteriophages
BraggRR@ufs.ac.za

Trudi O'Neill

Prof Trudi O’Neill

Rotavirus zoonotic infection
Virus-host interactions
OneillHG@ufs.ac.za

Dr Frans O'Neill

Dr Frans O’Neill

Sterol metabolism
OneillFH@ufs.ac.za

Dr Olihile Sebolai

Prof Olihile Sebolai

Pathogenic yeasts
Yeast virulence factors
Yeast-host interactions
SebolaiOM@ufs.ac.za

Prof Koos Albertyn

Prof Koos Albertyn

Heterologous protein expression
Pathogenic yeasts
AlbertynJ@ufs.ac.za



BLOEMFONTEIN CAMPUS FACULTY CONTACT

Elfrieda van den Berg (Marketing Manager)
T: +27 51 401 2531
E:vdberge@ufs.ac.za
QWAQWA CAMPUS FACULTY CONTACT

Dilahlwane Mohono (Faculty Officer)
T: +27 58 718 5284
E:naturalscienceqq@ufs.ac.za

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