Prof Esté van Marle-Köster

Qualifications: BSc Agric (UP), Honns MSc Agric (UFS) PHD (UP) Dipl. Development Studies (UNISA)  Pr. Anim. Sci.

Position: HOD Animal and Wildlife Sciences

Fields of expertise: Animal breeding & genetics

Orcid profile:

Tel: +27 (0)12 420 3612

E-mail: [email protected]

Professional memberships:


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Esté van Marle-Köster joined the Department of Animal and Wildlife Sciences in 1995. She obtained a PhD in Animal Breeding and genetics in 2002. Her research concerns the application of genomics in the animal sciences with specific interest in beef and dairy cattle genomics. Her research is aimed at genetic improvement of traits related to animal welfare and sustainability. She has more than 70 peer-reviewed publications and has delivered several MSc and PhD students over the past 24 years.  She was the coordinator of the subcommittee for research for the Beef genomic program and coordinator of the Dairy genomic program funded by TIA for establishing genomic selection in SA dairy cattle. She is registered as a professional animal scientist (400090/91) with the South African Council for Natural Science Professions. She was the first female President of the South African Society for Animal Science and currently HOD of dept. Animal Science. 

Current research projects underway

  • Genetic mechanisms and inheritance patterns of polled and scur phenotypes in South African Bonsmara cattle
  • A genomic approach for studying functional traits (udder health and conformation, claw quality and locomotion) for improvement of dairy cattle welfare in SA.
  • A nutrigenomics approach for investigation of the rumen microbiome with growth and feed efficiency traits in South African feedlot cattle. 
  • Application of genomic breeding values in South African Bonsmara cattle     

Completed projects (2018-2019)

  • Alternative approaches for analyses of production performance from automatic milking systems in South Africa
  • Genomic inbreeding estimation and effective population size of four South African diary breeds
  • A genome wide association study of carcass traits based on RTU in South African Nguni cattle
  • Impact of Bacillus probiotics on production performance and microbial gut diversity in weaner pigs
  • Phenotypic and genetic characterization of South African Boran cattle

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