Victoria Ontong


Research project: The Actinobacteria associated with Rooibos

Position: MSc Student

I have always been intrigued by how living organisms function and their awesome abilities. Therefore, I have completed my honours degree in Biotechnology at the University of the Western Cape. In 2014, I joined IMBM where I was involved in isolating potentially novel Actinobacteria from fynbos species. Rooibos, a popular fynbos plant, truly possess unique health benefits and exclusively grows in the mountainous areas of the Western Cape. Actinomycetes, alone produce 70-80% of the available antibiotics known to date. Thus, it is suggested that the associated microbial community should have some interesting properties as well. The commercial implications for a novel bioactive compound found only in the rooibos environment has the potential to take the industry beyond its current status, not to mention the financial impact it will have on the struggling farming communities. Ultimately, microbiological studies will uncover the microbial potential of rooibos.