Located on the Agricultural Research Council's Onderstepoort Veterinary Institute campus, the Biotechnology Platform (ARC-BTP) was established in 2010 as a major strategic priority of the ARC. The role of the ARC-BTP is to create the high-throughput resources and technologies required for applications in genomics, quantitative genetics, marker assisted breeding and bioinformatics within the agricultural sector. The focus of the ARC-BTP is to establish itself as both a research and service driven institution, providing an environment in which highly skilled researchers can be hosted and trained. The technologies established within the platform are accessible as services to the ARC, collaborators, companies, science councils and researchers across the continent.


The ARC-BTP has implemented high-throughput DNA and RNA sequencing and genotyping technologies within the platform, with the capacity to genotype thousands of samples, or generate large volumes of data from single samples.

The current technologies available in the platform include:

  • Next generation sequencing and genotyping platforms

  • Liquid handling robotics systems

  • Laser capture micro-dissection microscope



  • Next Generation Sequencing Services:

The ARC BTP operates three next generation Illumina sequencers, a HiSeq2500 and two MiSeq systems. Different sample preparation protocols are available for NGS library preparations, depending on the type of samples and/or the application. This is an area that gets regularly updated and the facility keeps abreast with these. The best approach with the current available technologies will be determined during initial discussion with clients.

  • SNP Genotyping Services:

SNP genotyping is performed using the Infinium bead chip technology of Illumina. Both commercial and custom made Infinium bead chips, ranging from ± 3 K-1,000 K SNPs, are available from Illumina (www.illumina.com). We recommend that clients contact us for ordering and pricinf of these, since reagents have expiry dates and we need to schedule the work around these dates.

 *It is recommended potential clients contact the BTP Core Facility for project discussions and pricing.


Name: Dr Jasper Rees

Position: Group Executive:
Research & Innovation Systems

Email: ReesJ@arc.agric.za

Name: Dr Charles Hefer

Position: Senior Researcher

Email: HeferC@arc.agric.za

Phone:  012 529 9356

Dr Hefer's research focus is on large-scale population genomics applications in agriculture. He has research programs on several subtropical crops, with the focus on generating genomics resources for genomic selection and association studies. He is the bioinformatics lead researcher at the Biotechnology Platform. 

External links: 

Google Scholar Profile:https://scholar.google.co.za/citations?user=dDOjv3EAAAAJ&hl=en

Name: Dr Dirk Swanevelder

Position: Senior Researcher

Phone: 012 529 9472

Dr Swanevelder works on various genomics projects of agricultural interests. His research team focuses on sunflower breeding, genetics, genomics and genetic engineering for yield, oil quality, and other traits, for specific applications such as biofuel production and processing. His other interests relate to the functional genomics of industrial and agricultural important microbes and their application, as well as high-throughput barcoding approaches for plant-pollinator interactions studies. He is a Research Fellow at UNISA's College for Agriculture and Environmental Sciences.

Name: Dr Farai Muchadeyi

Position: Senior Researcher: Animal Genetics and Genomics

Email: MuchadeyiF@arc.agric.za

Phone: 012 529 9352

Dr Muchadeyi's research interests are in the characterization, sustainable utilization and conservation of livestock genetic resources. Her current ongoing research involves the application of genomics and population genetic tools in inferring on genetic diversity, identifying adaptive features associated with livestock species from marginalized farming environments and investigating how the genetic adaptation can be harnessed in mainstream commercial agriculture. Her other projects involve the unravelling of the causal mutations of genetic disorders and the inclusion of molecular genetic marker information in selection programs. She currently heads the Animal Genetics and Genomics research group at the Biotechnology Platform (ARC) managing various projects on livestock and wildlife genomics.

External Links:

Google Scholar Profile: http://scholar.google.co.za/citations?user=-viL4qEAAAAJ&hl=en&oi=sra

BTP-Core staff members

Name: Ms Kerry-Anne Pillay

Position: Application Specialist: Genomics Core Facility

Email: PillayK@arc.agric.za

Phone:  012 529 9481

Kerry-Anne has completed her BSc Honors and Masters specializing in Genetics at the University of Pretoria. She is currently employed at the Genomics Core Facility at the Agricultural Research Council where she is involved with the day to day running of the Illumina sequencing machines (Miseq, Hiseq 2500), Illumina sample preparations and consulting with clients regarding the applications of sequencing data to their project needs.

Name: Jurgens de Bruin

Position: Application Specialist: Bioinformatics

Email: debruinj@arc.agric.za

Phone: 012 529 9483

Mr. De Bruin received his BSc degree in Biochemistry in 2004, honors degree in biochemicstry in 2005. His MSc in Bioinformaitcs was completed in 2008 and was focued on chemoinformatics. Since completion of his MSC his, interests have shifted from chemoinformatics to the application of Bioinformatics to Genetics based questions. Currently his interesests are Genotyping, specificly Genotype by sequencing (GBS) and Transcriptomics.  Mr. de Bruin is also responsible for Bioinformaitcs support within the Biotechnology Platform of the ARC.

Name: Khulekani Khanyile

Position: Application Specialist-Genomics


I conduct operation of Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) with the Biotechnology Platform for the provision of services for clients and research programs within the ARC. I develop and implement workflows with focus on quality, efficiency and cost. Develop and implement the use of Standard Operation Procedures (SOPs).

Name: Marija Kvas

Position: Application Specialist: Next Generation Sequencing


Phone:  012 529 9482

Marija has a MSc Microbiology degree from the University of Pretoria. She manages daily operations of the sequencing facility for the provision of services to research programmes within the ARC and collaborating institutions.  As a part of Genomics Core Facility she is responsible for NGS library preparations, optimization and implementation of protocols and the smooth running of MiSeq and HiSeq 2500 from Illumina.

Name: Jonathan Featherstone

Postion: Application Specialist: Next Generation Sequencing

Email: FeatherstoneJ@arc.agric.za

Phone: 012 529 9482

Name: Mr Muofhe Khumbudzo

Position: Application Specialist: Informatics


Mr Muofhe's focus is on developing and implement a programme to optimise the workflow for the DAFF meat project. He is responsible for creating the database and the Information System for the use of standard operating procedures. He is a lead programmer for the DAFF Meat Project Information System. The software or Information system also facilitate the use of standard operating procedures and support the DAFF meat project research.


Contact Us

Agricultural Research Council; Onderstepoort Campus; 100 Old Soutpan Road (M35); Biotechnology Platform Building (Building 38)
GPS co-ordinates: 25°39'03.10″S   28°11'03.10″E