Centre for Microbial Ecology and Genomics
The University of Pretoria Centre for Microbial Ecology and Genomics (CMEG) was formally approved as a research entity by the University of Pretoria in September 2012. CMEG is a core group within the Genomics Research Institute.
In 2012, the University of Pretoria refurbished a 1 000m2 laboratory suite to house the CMEG research team and the administrative centre for the Genomics Research Institute. The laboratory is sited in the Natural Sciences II (NWII) building on the Hatfield Campus. The CMEG laboratory suite has the space to house over 40 researchers and support staff. As of December 2016, the CMEG team comprises 39 researchers, including 3 Research Fellows and 11 postdoctoral research staff, along with 14 PhD and 11 MSc researchers.
Virtually all projects within CMEG fall within the fields of Ecogenomics and Functional Metagenomics, with a strong emphasis of microbial diversity, microbial function and adaptation, and microbial applications. With its strong national position in these new and rapidly developing fields, and its extensive range of national and international collaborators, CMEG is ideally positioned to provide high quality and cutting-edge training for postgraduates, and to make a valuable contribution to the Genomics Research Institute and to the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences at the University of Pretoria.
Message from the Director
Prof Don Cowan:
The Centre for Microbial Ecology and Genomics (CMEG) is one of the largest research teams in the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences at the University of Pretoria. CMEG researchers use a range of modern molecular and genomic methods, to address questions relating to the structure and function of microbial communities in the natural environment. CMEG researchers focus particularly on the role of microorganisms in ‘ecosystem services’ in a wide range of soil habitats, from hot and cold deserts to the soil habitats associated with root systems of economic crop species.
There is growing awareness that microorganisms play a very important role in soil health. Modern molecular techniques allow us, for the first time, to determine the full complement of microbial species in an environmental sample, and to probe the genetic and functional potential of these organisms.
Along with these environmental studies, CMEG researchers are also using the techniques of functional metagenomics and whole metagenome sequencing in order to identify novel pathways, genes and proteins in the ‘genetic resource’ offered by different environments.
The diversity and excitement of CMEG research is powered by dramatic changes in the genomic landscape, where the growth and power of Next Generation DNA Sequencing opens new innovative and exciting research ‘landscapes’.
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