Welcome to Stellenbosch University

Jansen Laboratory

Main Research Theme:  
Yeast and fungal biotechnology for sustainable industrial applications​​
Group Leader: Dr. Trudy Jansen

Contact details:
Office: JC Smuts Building A336
Phone: +27 21 808 5853
Email: trudy@sun.ac.za

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Research overview 

Sustainable protein production is required to minimise dependence on limited resources and allow for the production of a variety of protein-based commodities. Our current research aim is to use yeast and fungal microbial systems to produce heterologous proteins. Moreover, we are interested in enhancing current expression systems for yeasts (Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Pichia pastoris and Kluveromyces lactis) as well as fungi (Aspergillus niger). We aim to diversify existing molecular tools for interchangeable use between various eukaryotic expression hosts.  In addition, we hope to promote a sustainable bioeconomy that utilises waste streams to produce these industrially relevant heterologous proteins. We further aim to understand the molecular mechanisms of environmental stress tolerance as this will allow for the identification and development of robust microbial systems that will facilitate the use of hazardous waste streams for heterologous protein production. 

Main projects

Developing yeast and fungal microbial systems for recombinant ​​protein productionEukaryotic expression systems are developed for a specific host organism. Developing plasmid systems that can replicate and express heterologous proteins in several eukaryotic microbial systems provides versatility and adaptability for application in a variety of industrial processes. We are currently looking at producing plasmid systems that are functional in several eukaryotic microbial hosts including S. cerevisiae, Pichia pastoris, Kluveromyces lactis and Aspergillus niger.
Investigating industrial waste streams as cultivation media for microbial expression systemsIndustrial processes generate a large amount of waste products that require specific waste management strategies and are harmful to the environment. Utilising these waste streams to produce valuable products does not only provide a solution to pollution, but also lowers production costs when used as feedstock to produce heterologous proteins. Our focus is to evaluate agro-industrial by-products as alternate carbon and nitrogen sources for microbial cultivation with simultaneous heterologous protein production.


Elucidating the molecular mechanisms responsible for environmental stress tolerance in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae​​Extreme environmental conditions are inherent to industrial processes. The ability to maintain microbial cell viability and vitality when faced with environmental stresses allows for the maintained production of heterologous proteins under these extreme conditions. Understanding the mechanisms that underlie cellular robustness therefore allows us to develop robust microbial systems that will maintain optimal protein production during harsh industrial conditions. Our research group therefore has a keen interest in understanding the molecular mechanisms that allow for sustained redox homeostasis during harsh environmental conditions.​

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