Students from the faculty of Science, Agriculture and Engineering Department in the  Biochemistry and Microbiology Siphesihle Msweli,  Andiswa Chonco and  Lihle Msweli, from the, Faculty of Science, made the University of Zululand (UNIZULU) proud by publishing their honors project work in an accredited international journal, International Journal of Molecular Sciences (IJMS), with an impact factor of 6.2.

According to Professor Khajamohiddin Syed , who is a senior lecture in the department of Biochemistry and Microbiology  the most  exciting part is that these students were supervised by master’s student  Bridget Valeria Zinhle Nkosi. “  This is an excellent accomplishment as publishing in such a reputable journal is not easy, considering these are honors students supervised by a master’s student.   In three months of their project work, these students completed their research work as the supervisor, Nkosi was so persistent in pushing the project works of these three students. Upon completing the research work, students combined their work and published it in IJMS. “ expained Prof Syed.

The student work proved a phenomenon set by Prof Syed’s laboratory, i.e., P450 enzymes play a key role in organisms’ adaptation vis a vis lifestyle of organisms impacts P450 content in their genome .

Here is the summary of their work published in IJMS:  

For the last six decades, cytochrome P450 monooxygenases (CYPs/P450s), heme thiolate proteins, have been under the spotlight due to their regio- and stereo-selective oxidation activities, which has led to the exploration of their applications in almost all known areas of biology. The availability of many genome sequences allows us to understand the evolution of P450s in different organisms, especially in the Bacteria domain. The phenomenon that “P450s play a key role in organisms’ adaptation vis a vis lifestyle of organisms impacts P450 content in their genome” was proposed based on studies on a handful of individual bacterial groups. To have conclusive evidence, one must analyze P450s and their role in secondary metabolism in species with diverse lifestyles but that belong to the same category. We selected species of the phylum Proteobacteria classes, Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, and Epsilon, to address this research gap due to their diverse lifestyle and ancient nature. The study identified that the lifestyle of alpha-, beta-, gamma-, delta-, and epsilon-proteobacterial species profoundly affected P450 profiles in their genomes. The study determined that irrespective of the species associated with different proteobacterial classes, pathogenic species or species adapted to a simple lifestyle lost or had few P450s in their genomes. On the contrary, species with saprophytic or complex lifestyles had many P450s and secondary metabolite biosynthetic gene clusters. The study findings prove that the phenomenon mentioned above is factual, and there is no link between the number and diversity of P450s and the age of the bacteria.

In the current academic world, Prof Syed contemplates that  supervisory skills must be taught from the early stage as many academics are still struggling in this crucial aspect. This work is the best example of training a master’s student in supervisory elements. Prof. Syed believes these three honors and their supervisor Nkosi have a bright future. 

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