Welcome to Stellenbosch University

Department of Genetics

What is Genetics?

Genetics deals with the molecular structure and function of genes, gene behaviour in the context of a cell or organism (e.g. dominance and epigenetics), patterns of inheritance from parent to offspring, and gene distribution, variation and change in populations, such as through Genome-Wide Association Studies. Given that genes are universal to living organisms, genetics can be applied to the study of all living systems, from viruses and bacteria, through plants and domestic animals, to humans.

The Department of Genetics and the Institute of Plant Biotechnology

The history of the Department of Genetics can be traced back to 1898, when the Stellenbosch College of Agriculture was founded on the outskirts of the village of Stellenbosch, but officially it originated in 1925 from the Department of Agricultural Botany in the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences. Today the Department represents an interdisciplinary group of researchers and postgraduate students who focus on research opportunities in plant, animal and human genetics.

The mission of the Department is to cultivate an environment in which Genetics as core science can serve as basis for the creative development of human resources to benefit the individual, the broader society, as well as the environment as a whole. To achieve this, the Department aims to deliver quality research, creative teaching and outstanding and responsible service delivery to the community and environment.

Programme information ​

Undergraduate courses

Plant Genetics is contained in the programme BScAgric Plant and Soil Sciences (Plant and Soil Sciences and Crop Protection and Breeding). Animal Genetics (Genetics is only offered until the third year) is contained in the programme BScAgric Animal Production Systems (Animal Science, Animal Science with Agronomy and Animal Science with Conservation Ecology). If your focus is on Human Genetics, you do a BSc in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology or a BSc in Human Life Sciences (the last two programmes are offered in the Faculty of Science).

Postgraduate courses

Honours (BSc)
MSc and MScAgric
PhD and PhDAgric


The three research focus area of the department are plant, animal and human genetics which include research in the fields of quantitative (breeding and biometry), molecular (biotechnological) and population genetics.

In Animal Genetics research is conducted on various aquatic and other live-stock animals and involves determining genetic diversity and population dynamics for better management and conservation of these species.

In Human Genetics research focuses on identification and molecular characterisation of the genes involved in schizophrenia, tuberculosis, iron regulation and cancer; as well as pharmacogenetic application in diseases which occur in the South African population.

In Plant Genetics and Biotechnology , research includes, among others: molecular characterisation of grapevine virus diseases and development of virus resistance, rye and triticale breeding, cereal genomics and plant-insect interactions as well as fruit breeding and germplasm characterisation.

Also have a look at the research facilities available at our department.

​Contact Details

Department of Genetics and the Institute of Plant Biotechnology

Faculty of AgriSciences
Private Bag X1, 7602 Matieland, South Africa
Tel.:  +27 21 808 5839        Fax:  +27 21 808 5833 
E-mail:            Web:​


Academic Staff​

Academic staffTelephoneE-mailPosition

Dr AE Bester-Van der Merwe

021 808 5835/ Molecular Population Genetics
Mr WC Botes 021 808 2637/ Genetics, Plant Breeding
Prof A-M Botha-Oberholster 021 808 5832/ Molecular Genetics, Plant Genetics
Prof D Brink 021 808 Animal Breeding, Aquaculture
Prof JT Burger021 808 5858/ Molecular Genetics, Virology

Dr Hano Maree

021 808 Genetics, Virology
Dr NW McGregor021 808 5836/ Genetics, Human Genetics
Mrs J Nienkemper-Swanepoel021 808
Dr C Rhode021 808 5834/ Breeding & Biodiversity
Prof R Roodt-Wilding 021 808 5831/ Molecular Breeding & Biodiversity
Dr B van Asch021 808 Breeding & Biodiversity
Mr S van der Westhuizen021 808
Prof L Warnich021 808 5888/ Molecular Genetics, Human Genetics

Technical & Support Staff​


Academic staffTelephoneE-mail
MJ Allison021 808 
NFV Burger021 808 
A Ellis021 808 
M Engelbrecht021 808 5885 / 
MM Engelbrecht021 808 secretary
LJ Korkie021 808 
CF Oosthuizen021 808 
CJ van Heerden021 808 Analytical Facility
JA Vervalle021 808 

Service staff ​​​

Academic staffTelephoneE-mail
E Casper021 808
A Julius021 808
E Titus021 808
C Toutie021 808