Project: Unlocking the phage ‘black box’
Born and raised in Belgium, I started my tertiary education at the University of Pretoria in Pretoria, South Africa. After completing my B.Sc. in Microbiology, I fell in love with viruses and pursued to learn as much as I could about them! I continued on with postgrad where I specialized in plant virology (Honours and Masters) and bacteriophage molecular ecology (PhD project).
I am currently a Postdoc working in the “Gene Discovery using Omics” research program. The aim of my study is to develop two novel, high-throughput culture-independent approaches for isolating bacterial viruses (i.e. bacteriophages or phages), along with their cognate bacterial hosts. Viruses and their hosts will be sampled in ecologically challenging environments, including metal deposits and thermal hot springs. From the metagenomic analysis of these microbial communities, we wish to understand their diversity and ecology. Furthermore, the metagenomes from these viruses will be mined for the isolation and characterization of novel enzymes and products with commercial potential for the biotechnology sector.
Zablocki, O., van Zyl, L., Adriaenssens, E. M., Rubagotti, E., Tuffin, M., Cary, S. C., & Cowan, D. (2014). High-level diversity of tailed Phages, eukaryote-associated viruses, and virophage-like elements in the metaviromes of Antarctic soils. Applied and environmental microbiology, 80(22), 6888-6897.
Zablocki, O., & Pietersen, G. (2014). Characterization of a novel citrus tristeza virus genotype within three cross-protecting source GFMS12 sub-isolates in South Africa by means of Illumina sequencing. Archives of virology, 159(8), 2133-2139.
Zablocki, O., Adriaenssens, E. M., & Cowan, D. (2016). Diversity and ecology of viruses in hyperarid desert soils. Applied and environmental microbiology, 82(3), 770-777.