This group undertakes basic and applied research concerning the role of microorganisms in the digestive tract, and strives to apply current knowledge to the formulation of strategies for optimal utilization of feed resources and the prevention of digestive disorders in animals and humans.

Microorganisms within the gastrointestinal tract play an important nutritional and metabolic role beneficial to humans and animals. The group's aims are:

  • To isolate, characterize and preserve potentially useful microorganisms for the enhancement of animal production, treatment of human disorders and fermentation technology, and

  • To utilize these organisms as probiotics in animals, as for example, rumen fermentation enhancers and detoxification inoculants

Food Science and Technology

Product safety and quality

Food composition

Sensory analysis


Summary of Research Focus

Biotechnological application of rumen organisms in order to alleviate acidosis in high-yield dairy cows. Through the use of molecular biology, a genetic probe has been developed which makes it possible to detect specific rumen bacteria in mixed rumen bacterial populations. The organisms can thus be traced during in vivo trials in order to determine the dose size and frequency required of the organism per animal, in order to alleviate lactic acidosis.

The development of gastro-intestinal models to study the survival and adhesion of probiotic bacteria in the gastro-intestinal tract (GIT). Fluorescent-in-situ-hybridization is one method used to detect the survival and adhesion of these bacteria in the GIT.

Phytomedicine and Natural Products Research, focus on high valued plants, microorganisms (bacteria, Actinomycetes, fungi) and animals, which could be medicinal, aromatic or economical. It includes the extraction, isolation, purification and structural elucidation of bioactive compounds and essential oils from plants/microorganisms that have been implicated in folklore medicine. The activities involve biological testing of plant/microbial extracts and, ultimately, their clinical validations. We focus on well-defined plant/microbial extracts which are used for management of infectious diseases.

Public Health: The molecular epidemiology of infectious food borne, waterborne and water-related microbial pathogens, and the effect of discharged effluents on the biotic and abiotic components of aquatic environments; water and wastewater quality.

Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology, relating to issues of finding solutions to problems of antibiotics resistance among the pathogenic microorganisms and alternatives to antibiotics (Probiotics & Prebiotics).


Professional services

  • Selection, cultivation and preservation of microbial cultures for administration to animals

  • Microbiological analysis of microbial populations in the digestive tracts of domestic animals

  • Supply of cultures of rumen bacteria and -fluid from domesticated and wild animals

  • Determination of nutritional requirements and growth kinetics of microorganisms

  • Consultation services

  • Seminars and lectures

For more information contact:

Dr Ayo Aiyegoro
Tel: +27 (0)12 672 9368; +27 (0)12 672 9021
ARC-Animal Improvement Institute, Private Bag X2, IRENE, 0062