Page 54 - UCT2012 Science

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Walters, A. 2012. Constructing realistic Szekeres models
from initial and final data. MSc Astrophysics & Space-
Science. 160pp. Supervised by Hellaby, C.
Wilson, B. 2012. Robust Bayesian portfolio optimisation:
Higher moments and the distorting effects of constraints.
MSc. Supervised by Witten, G.
In addition to the research outputs listed further above,
contributions ranging across book reviews to popular
articles were made. The Marine Research Assessment and
Management Group (MARAM) provided 105 technical
papers to the scientific working groups of the Fisheries
Branch of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and
Fisheries related to the management of South African
marine resources, and to other United States and
international fisheries management organisations.
Department of Molecular
And Cell Biology
Head of Department: Associate Professor
Vernon Coyne
Departmental Profile
The Department has interests and expertise in diverse
areas of biology. The problem of desiccation in plants
is being tackled by a combination of physiological and
molecular approaches. “Biofarming” research involves
the expression of pharmaceutically-important proteins
in plants and insect cells, including vaccine candidates
for human and animal diseases such as bluetongue,
human papillomaviruses, human rotavirus and psittacine
beak and feather disease. Plant biotechnology research
for plant improvement is focused on developing virus-
resistant and drought-tolerant crops and the molecular
basis of nickel hyperaccumulation in plants. Plant defence
responses are studied in both model and crop plants.
Circadian rhythms and their role in plant development
and responses, as well as sports performance in humans,
are studied. Eukaryotic gene expression projects include
the role of chromatin modifications in regulating the
rhythms of gene expression and gene expression during
neuronal differentiation and stress. Basic mechanisms
underlying the regulation of gene expression are studied
in human cells and in Plasmodium, with a view to
pinpointing Plasmodium-specific mechanisms that can
be exploited to develop novel anti-malarial drugs.
Misfolding of DNA sequences is being investigated
as a possible cause of inheritable mental diseases.
In addition, the actions of mammalian hormones,
synthetic contraceptives and steroid receptors are being
investigated with a view to understanding mechanisms,
integration of signalling pathways and role in HIV
pathogenesis. Research on viral pathogenesis includes
virus-host genomic and proteomic interaction studies
for Maize streak virus, and protein structure-function
studies of the envelope protein and its role in HIV
transmission. Evolutionary biology projects focus on
mechanisms that shape both genomic and population-
level diversity, as well as evolution of limb development
in bats. Molecular virology studies focus on the genetic
diversity and molecular biology of single-stranded DNA
viruses of plants and animals, of the marine virome, and
of papillomaviruses of primates and humans. Structural
studies are being carried out by electron microscopy and
X-ray crystallography on a number of proteins, including
glutamine synthetase and members of the nitrilase
superfamily, to obtain insights necessary for rational
drug and industrial enzyme design. Research in marine
biotechnology includes genetic and proteomic studies
of the immune response of the abalone (Haliotis midae)
and the stress and disease response systems of the
commercially important seaweed Gracilaria gracilis. In
addition, probiotics are being developed to improve the
growth rate and disease resistance of farmed abalone.
Research in microbiology includes molecular-genetic
investigations of industrially and medically important
anaerobic bacteria such as Corynebacterium, Bacteroides
fragilis, Bifidobacterium and the fibre-degrading bacteria
in the ostrich gut. The taxonomy of antibiotic-producing
actinobacteria is being investigated. The Department
also runs an analytical facility (amino acid analysis,
DNA sequencing, DNA synthesis, DNA microarrays and
protein identification). The instrumentation in the facility
consists of HPLCs, a GC MS/MS and LC-ESI QTOF and
MALDI instruments for mass spectrometry.
Departmental Statistics
Permanent and Long-Term Contract Staff
Associate Professors
Senior Lecturers
Research Staff
Technical Support Staff
Administrative and Clerical Staff
Honorary Staff
Honorary Professors