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Microbial, Biochemical and Food Biotechnology

Staff Member

Prof (JC) James Du Preez
Position
Senior Professor
Department
Address
BTG 2A
Biotegnologie
IB 61
9999
Telephone
051 4012679
Office
' 2A
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Information
Short CV

James du Preez obtained his Ph.D. in Microbiology in 1980 from the University of the Orange Free State (UOFS; now University of the Free State (UFS), where he was appointed professor of microbiology in 1988, departmental chairperson in 2002 and promoted to senior professor in 2005 in the Department of Microbial, Biochemical & Food Biotechnology. Early in his Ph.D. studies he developed an interest in continuous cultures, which was further developed when he completed a major part of his Ph.D. research in the laboratory of Prof. Armin Fiechter at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), Zürich in 1978. Subsequently he spent short sabbaticals in the Department of Applied Microbiology, Hebrew University, Jerusalem (1984) and the Department of Agricultural Chemistry, National Taiwan University, Taipei (1992).

 His research is in the field of fermentation biotechnology with a special interest in continuous (chemostat) cultures, yeast physiology and the application of microbial cells for the production of metabolites in submerged culture. The focus has been on the effects of cultivation conditions on growth, product formation and microbial physiology, especially the production of heterologous proteins by recombinant yeasts and aspects pertaining to bioethanol production from starchy and lignocellulosic feedstocks, including xylose fermentation by yeasts. Other research topics have included the production of microbial biomass (single cell protein) and other microbial products such as xylanase,  amylase by natural and recombinant yeasts, gibberellin in solid state culture, astaxanthin, high value essential lipid derivatives, and a bacterial exotoxin of importance for vaccine production. The physiology of Saccharomyces cerevisiae remains an interest, currently focusing on the role of alcohol dehydrogenase isozymes in multiple deletion mutants grown in continuous culture.

 He has authored or co-authored 97 peer-reviewed articles as well as several other papers and book chapters. Currently he is a C1-rated scientist as evaluated by the South African National Research Foundation, having held a B2/B3-rating since 1987 over five consecutive 5-yr evaluation cycles until 2011. He is a recipient of the following awards: (1) UFS Centenary Medal for sustained contribution to the development of research in microbiology and particularly in respect of fermentation (2004), (2) UFS Medal for Research Excellence, (2004), (3) Silver Medal from the South African Society for Microbiology for exceptional achievement (2008), and (4) Award for Service to the Faculty from the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, UFS (2010).

 His current involvement with the science community includes serving in the council of the South African Society for Microbiology, membership of the International Commission for Yeasts, joint Editor-in-Chief for Biotechnology for Biofuels, an associate editor for World Journal of Microbiology and Biotechnology and a member of the editorial board of FEMS Yeast Research. Recently he was appointed the American Society for Microbiology’s ambassador to South Africa (2011), elected a member of the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf)(2011) and appointed on the  “Applied Life Sciences and Non-Medical Biotechnology” grant evaluation panel of the Scientific Council of the European Research Council (2012 - 2013) and on the Editors Advisory Group, comprising ten Editors-in-Chief, of the BioMed Central group of publishers (2013 – 2015).

Publications -
Publications (Short List)

Only papers published in international peer-reviewed journals since 2000 are given below.

1. Singh, S., J.C. du Preez, B. Pillay & B.A. Prior. 2000. The production of hemicellulases by Thermomyces lanuginosus strain SSBP: influence of agitation and dissolved oxygen tension. Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology 54:698-704. ISI 5-yr journal impact factor: 3.264

2. De Kock, S.H., J.C. du Preez & S.G. Kilian. 2000. Anomalies in the growth kinetics of Saccharomyces cerevisiae strains in aerobic chemostat cultures. Journal of Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology 24:231-236.

3. De Kock, S.H., J.C. du Preez & S.G. Kilian. 2000. The effect of vitamins and amino acids on glucose uptake in aerobic chemostat cultures of three Saccharomyces cerevisiae strains. Systematic and Applied Microbiology 23:41-46.

4. Du Preez, J.C., S.H. de Kock, S.G. Kilian & D. Litthauer. 2000. The relationship between transport kinetics and glucose uptake by Saccharomyces cerevisiae in aerobic chemostat cultures. Antonie van Leeuwenhoek Journal of Microbiology 77: 379-388.

5. De Kock, S.H., J.C. du Preez & S.G. Kilian. 2001. The effect of growth factors on anoxic chemostat cultures of two Saccharomyces cerevisiae strains. Biotechnology Letters 23:957-962.

6. Du Preez, J.C., Maré, J.E., Albertyn, J. & Kilian, S.G. 2001. Transcriptional repression of ADH2-regulated ?-xylanase production by ethanol in recombinant strains of Saccharomyces cerevisiae. FEMS Yeast Research 1:233-240.

7. Kilian, S, Kritzinger, S., Rycroft, C., Gibson, G. & Du Preez, J.C. 2002. The effects of the novel bifidogenic trisachharide, neokestose, on the human colonic microbiota. World Journal of Microbiology and Biotechnology 18: 637-644.

8. Kritzinger, S.M., Kilian, S.G., Potgieter, M.A. & du Preez, J.C. 2003. The effect of production parameters on the synthesis of the prebiotic trisaccharide, neokestose, by Xanthophyllomyces dendrorhous (Phaffia rhodozyma). Enzyme and Microbial Technology 32: 728–737. ISI 5-yr journal impact factor: 2.869

9. Van Rensburg, E., du Preez, J.C. & Kilian, S.G. 2004. Influence of the growth phase and culture medium on the survival of Mannheimia haemolytica during storage at different temperatures. Journal of Applied Microbiology 96: 154-161. ISI 5-yr journal impact factor: 2.681

10. Knox, A.M., du Preez, J.C. & Kilian, S.G. 2004. Starch fermentation characteristics of Saccharomyces cerevisiae strains transformed with amylase genes from Lipomyces kononenkoae and Saccharomycopsis fibuligera. Enzyme and Microbial Technology 34: 453-460. ISI 5-yr journal impact factor: 2.869

11. Chipeta, Z.A., du Preez, J.C., Szakacs, G. & Christopher, L. 2005. Xylanase production by fungal strains on spent sulphite liquor. Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology 69: 71 – 78. ISI 5-yr journal impact factor: 3.264

12. Van Rensburg, E., du Preez, J.C. & Ellis, C.E. 2006. Quantification of Mannheimia haemolytica leukotoxin by indirect ELISA. Onderstepoort Journal of Veterinary Research 73: 241–250. ISI 5-yr journal impact factor: 0.525

13. Van Rensburg, E. & du Preez, J.C. 2007. Effect of pH, temperature and nutrient limitations on growth and leukotoxin production by Mannheimia haemolytica in batch and continuous culture. Journal of Applied Microbiology 102: 1273-1282. ISI 5-yr journal impact factor: 2.681

14. Du Preez, J.C., van Rensburg, E. & Kilian, S.G. 2008. Kinetics of growth and leukotoxin production by Mannheimia haemolytica in continuous culture. Journal of Industrial Microbiology & Biotechnology 35: 611-618. ISI 5-yr journal impact factor: 2.086

15. Chipeta, Z.A., du Preez, J.C. & Christopher, L. 2008. Effect of cultivation pH and agitation rate on growth and xylanase production by Aspergillus oryzae in spent sulphite liquor. Journal of Industrial Microbiology & Biotechnology 35: 587-594. ISI 5-yr journal impact factor: 2.086

16. de Smidt, O., du Preez, J., Albertyn, J. 2008. The alcohol dehydrogenases of Saccharomyces cerevisiae: a comprehensive review. FEMS Yeast Research 8: 967-978. ISI 5-yr journal impact factor: 2.403 
 

17. de Smidt, O., du Preez, J.C., & Albertyn, J. 2011. Molecular and physiological aspects of alcohol dehydrogenases in the ethanol metabolism of Saccharomyces cerevisiae. FEMS Yeast Research 12: 33-47. ISI 5-yr journal impact factor: 2.403
 

Research -
Area(s) of Interest

I have a special interest in continuous cultures, yeast physiology and the biotechnological application of microbial cells for the production of metabolites in submerged culture. My focus is on the effects of cultivation conditions on growth, product formation and microbial physiology and the quantification of these effects in terms of growth kinetic parameters. This includes the production of heterologous proteins by recombinant yeasts, and aspects pertaining to bioethanol production from starchy and lignocellulosic feedstocks.
 

I am departmental chairperson and head the Fermentation Biotechnology research group of the department, with colleagues Prof. S.G. Kilian, Ms L. Steyn and Mr DT Schabort. With the emergence of a modern fermentation biotechnology industry in South Africa, research and training of students in this field is especially relevant.

Courses Presented

MKB314 (16 credits) - Microbial growth, nutrition and death
MKB364 (16 credits) - Microbial biotechnology and process engineering
BTG634 (16 credits) - Continuous and batch culture of micro-organisms
BTG614 (16 credits) - Techniques in Biotechnology