Ridwaan Nazeer Milase


Position: PhD

Project title: Development of a novel bacteriophage cocktail for treatment of American foulbrood disease affecting honeybees of the Western Cape (South Africa)

Honeybees play a vital role during the pollination of crops and have a major impact on the global economy and their decrease in populations is of a global concern. The decline in honeybee population has been reported to be due to a Gram-positive, facultative anaerobic, spore forming pathogen known as Paenibacillus larvae causing a disease termed American foulbrood (AFB) disease. American foulbrood disease is a highly contagious disease which kills specifically the honeybee larvae. Currently, methods used to eradicate P. larvae from the hives include burning the hive and equipment that has been used for the infected hive. Due to costs associated with burning hives, beekeepers have resorted to using antibiotics. The use of antibiotics has selected for antibiotic resistant strains of P. laevae. Thus, the need to improve the current strategies used to control AFB disease is beyond reasonable doubt.

The abundance of bacteriophages in natural environments makes bacteriophages suitable candidates for phage therapy. Bacteriophages are self-propagating when a specific host is present. Therefore, phage therapy is a promising approach against American foulbrood (AFB) disease affecting honeybees in the Western Cape (South Africa). Phage therapy will eliminate the use of antibiotics for AFB disease treatment and would be harmless to bees as well as honey consumers. Hence, research on the use of phage to combat AFB disease is of significant importance to environmental health and economics.

The main objectives are to isolate bacteriophages from natural environments, formulate a specific bacteriophage cocktail and determine the efficacy of the novel bacteriophage cocktail as a potential treatment for AFB disease.

Who I am

I am a proud South African born in Chartsworth, Unit 2 in Durban and raised at Illovu Township B section South coast Durban. I am proud and responsible father to one daughter and the eldest of four siblings (one brother and three sisters). I am full member of the Nazareth Baptist Church (eBuhleni) from a Christian & Muslim practicing family. My academic history includes a BSc degree with a double major in Biochemistry and Microbiology, BSc Hons and MSc degree in Microbiology at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (Westville campus). I have a great passion for research and I love learning new things. Apart from research, I am also a beat-maker/song composer and music producer. My hobbies include; making abstract sketch and paintings, reading and writing, dressing smart exchanging new ideas and exploring different flavours of tea and coffee from different parts of the world.