L-R: Kgalaletso Othibeng, Prof Edwin Madala and Akhona Myoli

Prof Ntakadzeni Edwin Madala, attached to the Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology, in the Faculty of Science, Engineering and Agriculture, recently hosted Mses Akhona Myoli and Kgala-letso Othibeng, second-year PhD candidates from the University of Johannesburg, supervised by Dr Fidele Tugizimana. Their research focuses on plant metabolomics, a field heavily reliant on ana-lytical instruments like the Shimadzu LCMS-9030, a key asset at the University of Venda (UNIVEN).
Ms Myoli’s research aims to decode and predictively characterise the influence of plant growth-pro-moting rhizobacteria (PGPR) on the unexplored phytochemical space of South African medicinal plants. Meanwhile, Ms Othibeng’s work focuses on using emerging computational tools and strat-egies to characterise the metabolome and underlying biochemistry of selected South African me-dicinal plants.
They have come to UNIVEN to learn and master concepts related to the LC-MS technique, gaining in-depth theoretical and hands-on experience with the instrumentation, analytical capabilities, and various methods of data acquisition in MS-based metabolomics studies.

NIVEN has been actively researching mass spectrometry to understand the complexity of plant metabolomes and enhance the pharmacological activities of various plants.
During their visit, the two UJ students had an opportunity to exchange ideas with UNIVEN students. Currently, over 11 MSc and PhD students are working on mass spectrometry-related projects, most of whom are registered in the Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology. It is also note-worthy to mention that UNIVEN hosts at least two scholars/students from various universities each month, all coming to gain experience on mass spectrometry research under the guidance of Prof Madala. Kgalaletso Othibeng expressed gratitude to UNIVEN for providing them with this rare op-portunity to learn how data is acquired, highlighting to the UNIVEN students the privilege of having such instrument of this nature at their disposal.
Prof Potgieter, the Executive Dean, stated that the use of high level equipment stationed in the Fac-ulty of Science, Engineering and Agriculture by internal and external staff and students for training and research activities is part of the transformation plan in the Faculty to make research resources more accessible where staff and students can get training in new research technologies and also get research output from the data that was created from the use of these equipment.

On photo: Mses Myoli and Othibeng sharing information

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