Division for Research Development
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SA Research Chair in Integrated Wine Sciences

The Chair in Integrated Wine Sciences is housed in the newly established South African Grape and Wine Research Institute alongside the Department of Viticulture and Oenology in the Faculty of AgriSciences. The research program of the chair represents an integrated approach to wine science and combines molecular, cellular, and multi-omics biology with traditional wine sciences (oenology). The collaboration network of the chair also covers and integrates core support disciplines such as bioinformatics, data science, analytical chemistry, sensory science, and multivariate data analysis.

The cellular and molecular biology of the wine yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae has been and remains a core focus of the chair’s research interest. This yeast remains an unsurpassed model organism to facilitate the investigation of fundamental research questions in cellular and molecular biology. Beyond Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the program of the chair includes a focus on wine microbial biodiversity (microbiome), on the functioning of wine-relevant microbial ecosystems and on the molecular mechanisms that govern interactions within this system. Importantly, and similar to the role played by Saccharomyces cerevisiae in cellular biology, this ecosystem provides an excellent model to study general questions related to the functioning and evolution of microbial ecosystems. The most recent work of the chair has therefore been directed towards a better understanding of wine–associated microbial biodiversity, the interaction between different species of microorganisms, and the application of systems biology tools to multi-species cultures.

In addition to those fundamental questions, the chair also supports projects with significant potential for direct application in industry. These industry-funded projects are directly supported by the insights generated in the fundamental research program and address issues such as the biological treatment of protein haze, the development of new bioreactors to better control multispecies-based bioprocesses and the development of new yeast strains for wine and cider production.  

The combined outcomes of these projects represent a significant contribution to global knowledge production in the field, while providing new solutions to address industrial challenges. The Chair therefore contributes to the long-term sustainability of the SA wine industry, ensuring economic and societal impacts beyond the scientific and technical contributions.    

user.pngProf Florian Bauer