Overview

The Microbiology and Environmental Biotechnology Research Group at ARC-ISCW utilizes both fundamental as well as applied microbiological and biotechnological approaches to address water, soil and climate problems. The Research Group is interested in biological removal of potential chemical stressors such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) from the environment using microbial transformation processes and plant and microbial interactions. Specific research interests include:

  • Soil health
  • Symbiosis
  • Microbial/molecular ecology and evolution
  • Fungi/mycorrhizae
  • Biodiversity of soil and water microbes
  • Bioremediation
  • Environmental biotechnology and restoration
  • Heavy metals
  • Biohydrometallurgy

Personnel

Dr Rasheed Adeleke is a Senior Researcher and Research Group leader. He obtained his PhD degree from the University of Pretoria, Department of Microbiology and Plant Pathology. He is an alumnus of the Borlaug fellowship programme at Cornell University as well as a Canadian government commonwealth scholarship beneficiary. He collaborates with researchers both nationally and internationally and his current research interests include microbial ecology, bioremediation, soil biotechnology and plant-microbe interactions. He is a member of the Society for Applied Microbiology and South African Society for Microbiology, and serves on the review board of several journals. He is also an adjunct Senior Lecturer at North-West University, Potchefstroom campus. His responsibilities as Research Group leader include initiation, coordination and management of projects as well as supervision of postgraduate students.

Dr Cyril Nwangburuka is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow. He obtained his PhD degree from the University of Ibadan in Nigeria. He is a plant breeder and geneticist with expertise in heritability and diversity studies in vegetable crops. Other areas of expertise include arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi, use of plant extracts in crop protection, molecular tools in diversity studies, cytogenetics and biotechnology. He is presently involved in two projects: (i) Diversity and characterization of AM fungi in stockpiled soils from coal mining; (ii) Use of vermicompost in alleviating the potential negative effect of Bt maize on the abundance and diversity of AM fungi.

Nicky Mushia is a Pedology Researcher and is registered for a PhD degree at the University of Limpopo. His research involves quality assessment of coal mine stockpiled soils using laboratory based techniques and reflectance spectroscopy.

Cornelius Mahlanza is an ARC Professional Development Programme (PDP) student and is registered for a PhD degree at the University of Pretoria, Department of Biochemistry. His research involves the microbial ecology of acid mine drainage polluted areas.

Deidré van Wyk is a PDP student and is registered for a PhD degree at North-West University, Potchefstroom campus. Her research involves the investigation of the effects of Bt and non-Bt maize on diversity and population of AM fungi as well as other rhizospheric soil microbes.

Nomfundo Sibiya is a PDP student and is registered for a MSc degree at the University of Pretoria, Department of Soil Science. She is involved in a study that investigates microbial diversity of coal mine stockpiled soils.

Adele Wolmarans is a PDP student and is registered for a MSc degree at North-West University, Potchefstroom campus. Her research study investigates the use of Bacteroides species as indicators of faecal pollution in water.

Abimbola Atanda is a PDP student and is registered for a MTech degree at Tshwane University of Technology, Department of Biotechnology and Food Technology. She is presently working on safety of vermicompost tea.

Leani Bothma joined the Research Group through a Student and Graduate into Work Programme sponsored by the Society for Applied Microbiology in 2013 and subsequently became a PDP student. She is now registered for a MSc degree at North-West University, Potchefstroom campus, and is working on a project that involves monitoring the physicochemical properties of three rivers in the North West Province. In addition, she is developing techniques to determine the levels of F-RNA bacteriophage, somatic coliphage and enteric viruses in those rivers.

Ramadimetja "Thato" Mashiane is a PDP student and is registered for a MSc degree at North-West University, Potchefstroom campus. She is working on diversity and potentials of microbes associated with maize leaves, stem, husk and cobs.

Rosina Makofane is an internship student and has a diploma from Vaal University of Technology.

Maryam Bello-Akinosho is registered for a PhD degree at the University of Pretoria, Department of Microbiology and Plant Pathology. Her research seeks to bioremediate PAH-polluted soil using a tripartite of pine plant, ectomycorrhizal fungi and associated bacteria.

Emmanuella Chioma Nnabuo is registered for a MSc degree at the University of South Africa, College of Agriculture and Environmental Science. She is investigating the use of freshwater diatoms as bioindicators for water quality monitoring.

Linda Uchendu is registered for a MSc degree at the University of South Africa, College of Agriculture and Environmental Science. She is investigating the compost bioremediation of oil sludge with anionic and non-ionic surfactants.

 

Collaborators (South Africa)

Prof Carlos Bezuidenhout (North-West University, Potchefstroom)

Prof Piet Jooste (Tshwane University of Technology, Pretoria)

Prof Harrison Atangana (University of South Africa)

Prof Jacques Theron (University of Pretoria)

Dr Mapitsi Thansha (University of Pretoria)

Dr Mervyn Beukes (University of Pretoria)

Dr Karen Surridge-Talbot (South African National Energy Development Institute)

Dr Evelyn Madoroba (ARC-OVI, Pretoria)

Dr Garry Paterson (ARC-ISCW, Pretoria)

Owen Rhode (ARC-GCI, Potchefstroom)

Johan Habig (ARC-PPRI, Pretoria)

 

Collaborators (International)

Prof Damase Khasa (Laval University, Canada)

Dr Annick Bertrand (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada)

Dr Teresa Pawloska (Cornell University, USA)

 

Funders (Past and Present)

Society for Applied Microbiology (UK)

National Research Foundation (South Africa)

Coaltech (South Africa)

Recent Publications

Adeleke, R.A. (2014). Getting rid of the unwanted: highlights of developments and challenges of biobeneficiation of iron ore minerals - a review. Journal of Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology 41:1731-1741

Adeleke, R.A. and Dames, J.F. (2014). Kalaharituber pfeilii and associated bacterial interactions. South African Journal of Botany 90: 68-73.

Adeleke, R.A., Cloete, E., Bertrand, A. and Khasa, D.P. (2012). Iron ore weathering potentials of ectomycorrhizal plants. Mycorrhiza 22(7):535-44.

Adeleke, R., Cloete, T.E. and Khasa, D.P. (2012). Culturable microorganisms associated with Sishen iron ore and their potential roles in biobeneficiation. World Journal of Microbiology and Biotechnology 28(3): 1057-1070.

Adeleke, R.A. and Bezuidenhout, C. (2011). Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) in South Africa – Challenges of microbiology quality of water resources. African Journal of Science, Technology, Innovation and Development 3(4): 55-64.

Adeleke, R.A., Cloete, E. and Khasa, D.P. (2010). Isolation and identification of iron ore-solubilising fungus. South African Journal of Science 106(9/10): 1-6.

Adeleke, R.A., Cloete, E., Bertrand, A. and Khasa, D.P. (2010). Mobilisation of potassium and phosphorus from iron ore by ectomycorrhizal fungi. World Journal of Microbiology and Biotechnology 26(10): 1901-1913.

 

Joining the Microbiology and Environmental Biotechnology Research Group

Postdoctoral and postgraduate students who would like to gain and share experience in different aspects of microbiology and biotechnology are welcome to join the Research Group. As a research institution the ARC is able to assist postgraduate students to register at various South African universities. Students have the option of conducting their experiments either at ARC-ISCW or at the university at which they are registered, where they will also usually have academic supervisors.

Please contact Dr Rasheed Adeleke for more information or to discuss possible research projects and funding opportunities:

E-mail: AdelekeR@arc.agric.za

Tel: +27 (0)12 310 2519