Project Description

DEBRA ROSSOUW
RESEARCH FOCUS

Biotechnology

BIOGRAPHY

I completed my PhD in 2009 (Stellenbosch University), focussing on yeast biotechnology and systems biology. Since then my research themes have expanded to areas of applied wine-related microbiology research, evolutionary microbiology and interaction research. Together with colleagues and students, we investigate molecular interactions between different fermentation-relevant species of yeast and bacteria, as well as between yeast and microalgae used for winery wastewater bioremediation. Directed evolution, synthetic ecology, systems biology and computational biology all form key elements of the research projects conducted by students (in addition to standard microbiology and biotechnology). I currently hold a grant from the Royal Society (FLAIR) and a UK collaboration grant, also from the Royal Society. Both enable extensive international engagement and travel/student exchanges. As part of this funded research, an important focus area is biocontrol of spoilage yeasts through the use of natural inhibitory yeast strains. Modifying cell wall properties of yeast is one interesting way of changing the way different species interact, and how this leads to inhibition or mutualism. These are just some of the aspects I find fascinating, and form part of my drive to delve deeper into the world of microbial interactions. Understanding interspecies interactions is fundamental to our understanding of natural ecosystems and evolution. However, these aspects also carry immense biotechnological potential in terms of engineering multispecies microbial consortia for sustainable biotechnological bioprocesses across a range of industries. Valorisation in the fermentation sector, microbial interventions in winemaking, water bioremediation and carbon capture are all examples of where such tailored microbial ecosystems can be put to use.

CONTACT:

2013A JHN Neethling Bldg, Victoria street, Stellenbosch

HYPERLINKS
PUBLICATIONS

2020 Enforced Mutualism Leads to Improved Cooperative Behavior between Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Lactobacillus plantarum. Microorganisms 8:1109. SC du Toit, D Rossouw, M du Toit, FF Bauer

2020 Evolution of mutualistic behaviour between Chlorella sorokiniana and Saccharomyces cerevisiae within a synthetic environment. Journal of Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology 47: 357-372.
JR Oosthuizen, RK Naidoo, D Rossouw, FF Bauer

2020 Real-time monitoring of population dynamics and physical interactions in a synthetic yeast ecosystem by use of multicolour flow cytometry. Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology 104:5547-5562.
CG Conacher, RK Naidoo, D Rossouw, FF Bauer

2019 Peer pressure: evolutionary responses to biotic pressures in wine yeasts. FEMS Yeast Research 19, foz072. CG Conacher, D Rossouw, FF Bauer

2018 Modifying Saccharomyces cerevisiae adhesion properties regulates yeast ecosystem dynamics. D Rossouw, SP Meiring, FF Bauer. MSphere e00383-18.