Dr Winschau Van Zyl
Microbiology and Biochemistry
Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences
Department of Microiology and Biochemistry
IB 61

Short CV

Post school education

1. B.Sc. degree in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology obtained in 2011 from the University of Stellenbosch.

2. B.Sc. (Hons) degree in Microbiology obtained December 2012 from the University of Stellenbosch, Department of Microbiology.

3. M.Sc. (cum laude) degree in Microbiology obtained March 2015 from the University of Stellenbosch, Department of Microbiology. Title of thesis: Fluorescence and bioluminescence imaging of the intestinal colonization of Enterococcus mundtii ST4SA and Lactobacillus plantarum 423 in mice infected with Listeria monocytogenes EGde.

4. PhD degree in Microbiology obtained in July 2018 from the University of Stellenbosch, Department of Microbiology. Title of thesis: Gastrointestinal persistence of the probiotic bacteria Lactobacillus plantarum 423 and Enterococcus mundtii ST4SA, and their anti-listerial activity. Under the supervision of Prof. Leon M.T. Dicks and Dr. Shelly M. Deane.

5. Post-doctoral fellowship - 07/2018 - 12/2020. Completed at the University of Stellenbosch, Department of Microbiology under the guidance of Prof. Leon M.T. Dicks and through collaboration with the University of the Western Cape, Institute for Microbial Biotechnology and metagenomics, under the guidance of Prof. Marla Trindade. Project title: Development of a multi-strain lanthipeptide expression system for the production and discovery of novel lanthipeptides.

6. Post-doctoral fellowship - 01/2021 - 2022. Completed at the University of Stellenbosch, Department of Microbiology under the guidance of Prof. Leon M.T. Dicks and through collaboration with the CSIR (Pretoria), Biosciences (Synthetic Biology) - Next generation health,  Dr. Deepak B. Thimiri Govinda Raj. Project Title: Synthetic Circuits and Metabolic engineering of a bacterial chassis for Probiotics. 

Winschau F. Van Zyl obtained his PhD (Microbiology) degree in 2018 at the University of Stellenbosch, Department of Microbiology with Prof. Leon M.T. Dicks. Between 2018 and 2022 he successfully completed two Post-Doctoral research fellowships. In 2023 he was appointed as Lecturer and principal investigator in the Department of Microbiology and Biochemistry, University of the Free State.


Winschau F. Van Zyl, Shelly M. Deane and Leon M.T. Dicks. Reporter systems for in vivo tracking of lactic acid bacteria in animal model studies. 2015Gut Microbes. Vol. 6, no. 5, 291-299, DOI: 10.1080/19490976.2015.1086058. Journal Impact Factor: 10.24


Winschau F. Van Zyl, Shelly M. Deane and Leon M.T. Dicks. Use of the mCherry fluorescent protein to study intestinal colonization by Enterococcus mundtii ST4SA and Lactobacillus plantarum 423 in Mice. 2015Applied and Environmental Microbiology.  Vol. 81, no. 17, 5993-6002, DOI:10.1128/AEM.01247-15. Journal Impact Factor: 5.00


Winschau F. Van Zyl, Shelly M. Deane and Leon M.T. Dicks. Enterococcus mundtii ST4SA and Lactobacillus plantarum 423 excludes Listeria monocytogenes from the GIT, as shown by bioluminescent studies in mice. 2016Beneficial Microbes. Vol. 7, no. 2, 227-235, DOI: 10.3920/BM2015.0082. Journal Impact Factor: 5.4


Winschau F. Van Zyl, Shelly M. Deane and Leon M.T. Dicks. In vivo bioluminescence imaging of the spatial and temporal colonization of Lactobacillus plantarum 423 and Enterococcus mundtii ST4SA in the intestinal tract of mice. 2018BMC Microbiology. Vol. 18, no. 171, DOI:  10.1186/s12866-018-1315-4. Journal Impact Factor: 4.465


Winschau F. Van Zyl, Shelly M. Deane and Leon M.T. DicksBacteriocin production and adhesion properties as mechanisms for the anti-listerial activity of Lactobacillus plantarum 423 and Enterococcus mundtii ST4SA. 2019Beneficial Microbes. Vol. 10, no. 3, DOI: 10.3920/BM2018.0141.Journal Impact Factor: 5.4


 Winschau F. Van Zyl, Shelly M. Deane and Leon M.T. Dicks.Development of a novel selection/counter-selection system for chromosomal gene integrations and deletions in lactic acid bacteria. BMC Molecular Biology. 2019. Vol. 20, no. 10, DOI: 10.1186/s12867-019-0127-x. Journal Impact Factor: 2.94


Winschau F. Van Zyl, Shelly M. Deane and Leon M.T. Dicks. Molecular insights into probiotic mechanisms of action employed against intestinal pathogenic bacteria. 2020. Gut Microbes. Vol. 12, no. 1, e1831339, DOI: 10.1080/19490976.2020.1831339. Journal Impact Factor: 10.24

Anton Du Preez van Staden, Winschau F. van Zyl, Marla Trindade, Leon M.T Dicks and Carine Smith.Therapeutic Application of Lantibiotics and Other Lanthipeptides: Old and New Findings. 2021.  Applied and Environmental Microbiology.  Vol. 87, no. 14, e00186-21. 10.1128/AEM.00186-21.Journal Impact Factor: 5.00

Kanganwiro Mugwanda, Saltiel Hamese, Winschau F. Van Zyl, Earl Prinsloo, Morne Du Plessis, Leon MT. Dicks and Deepak B. Thimiri Govinda Raj. Recent advances in genetic tools for engineering probiotic lactic acid bacteria. 2023. Bioscience Reports. Vol. 43, no. 1, DOI: 10.1042/BSR20211299. Journal Impact Factor: 3.977


Winschau F. Van Zyl, Anton Du Preez van Staden, Leon MT. Dicks and Marla Trindade. Use of the mCherry Fluorescent Protein to Optimize the Expression of Class I Lanthipeptides in Escherichia coli. 2023. Microbial Cell Factories journal. Vol. 22:149, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1186/s12934-023-02162-7Journal Impact Factor: 6.352


Publications (Short List)


Gastrointestinal diseases, and in particular those caused by bacterial infections, are a major cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. The use of antibiotics to treat bacterial infections is probably the most important contribution to medical sciences in modern times. Hundreds of antibiotics have been described that target cell wall development, DNA- and protein-synthesis. However, the increase in antibiotic resistance is steering science back into the “pre-antibiotic” era and can result in minor infections turning into life threatening diseases. The search for, and development of, novel and more effective antimicrobials is thus of utmost importance. Probiotic lactic acid bacteria (LAB) and the antimicrobial peptides that they produce, have considerable potential as alternatives to antibiotics, both in prophylactic and therapeutic applications. Lactic acid bacteria have a long history of safe use in food and therapeutic products and is increasingly recognised for their beneficial effects. By using in silico genome mining strategies, synthetic and molecular biology techniques, in our research we aim to identify, characterize and produce novel and more effective antimicrobial peptides and probiotics. This will increase the arsenal of antimicrobials for medical applications.

Area(s) of Interest

My research interests include applied and fundamental microbiology with special interest in Probiotic bacteria; Lactic acid bacteria; Antimicrobial peptides; Antimicrobial resistance; Mode of action studies and heterologous protein/peptide expression. I am always interested in novel ideas from under or postgraduate students who may wish to join the Antimicrobial peptides and Probiotic bacteria research laboratory.

Courses Presented

MCBP 2616 - Basic Principles of Microbiology, 2023-Current.


Elfrieda van den Berg (Marketing Manager)
T: +27 51 401 2531


Dilahlwane Mohono (Faculty Officer)
T: +27 58 718 5284

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