Dr Anathi Magadlela’s overseas training will enable molecular research first in South Africa.

Fulbright Scholar’s Overseas Training to Enable SA Molecular Research First

Dr Anathi Magadlela, a Plant Molecular Biologist in the School of Life Sciences, is the recipient of a Fulbright Visiting Research Scholar Program (FVRSP) which will enable him to conduct research in his field of expertise at an institution in the United States for three to nine months.

The FVRSP is intended to strengthen academic programs or curricula at the scholar’s home institution.

Magadlela has been at UKZN since 2016 after being drawn to the University’s international reputation of excellence in teaching and research. He completed his undergraduate and Honours studies at Walter Sisulu University, and his master’s and PhD degrees at Stellenbosch University. He focuses his research on functional and evolutionary aspects of plant-soil-microbe interactions during nutrient and drought stress.

Under the FVRSP, Magadlela will be undertaking molecular biological training at the Genetics and Developmental Biology Laboratory at West Virginia University in the United States from September 2018 to February 2019.

Magadlela was inspired to apply for the programme since this molecular research approach has not yet been attempted in South Africa, making it a first for the country. ‘Internationally, this approach of molecular eco-physiology of legumes is not very well established. However, this research training opportunity will afford me the ability to combine my existing skills with in-depth molecular biology, in order to bring a step-change to this field.

‘My previous research focused on the area of metabolic plant physiology of legumes during phosphorus stress, so this training will add incredible depth to my current whole plant research approach,’ said Magadlela.

The training he will receive under the fellowship will include the use of Illumina Next-Generation Sequencing, Ribonucleic acid (RNA) sequence data analysis, generation of gene networks, phylogeny studies, real-time Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-qPCR) and gene cloning. Magadlela plans to implement these techniques in his research at UKZN.

Magadlela thanked his mother and sister, Ms Nobethu Magadlela and Ms Asanda Magadlela, for their financial and emotional support during his studies and credited his master’s and PhD supervisor Professor Alexander Valentine for his encouragement, motivation and exceptional guidance. He also acknowledged UKZN and the SLS in particular, for affording him the opportunity to grow as a scientist.

Words: Christine Cuénod 

Photograph supplied by: Anathi Magadlela