Research & Innovation 2015-16 - Page 24

Postgraduate perspectives
Lovemore Kunorozva
Department of Molecular and Cell Biology
PER3 VNTR Genotype Association with Chronotype, Performance,
Illness, Injury and Re-entrainment
Kunorozva’s PhD research investigates whether the PERIOD3 (PER3) genotype
of South African Super Rugby players affected their performance or likelihood
of injury and illness when they travelled across time zones. Crossing time zones
is known to alter our internal body clocks, or circadian rhythms, which are
important for regulating our sleep, daily functions and immune system. Rapid
travel across time zones, which disrupts circadian rhythms, can alter sports
performance and influence the likelihood of injury, as well as our immune system
function. PER3 plays a role in circadian rhythms and sleep, and natural variations
in this gene have been linked to being a ‘morning type’ or an ‘evening type’ of
person. Kunorozva also found that the PER3 genotype contributed to the resetting of the internal clock required after time-zone travel. Read profile story
Sizakele Sizo Sibanda
Department of Biological Sciences
Deriving Benefits from Marine Protected Areas
South Africa has 0.4% of its mainland ocean territory designated as marine
protected areas (MPAs). Given that 98% of ocean space in South Africa is under
petroleum and mining lease, and the trawl fishery industry is yet to implement
effective seabed management, marine protection remains a pressing issue. Sibanda’s
master’s research looks at the level of ecosystem protection within the proposed
MPA network, and the benefits that can be derived from conservation goals and
socioeconomic needs. In 2014, Operation Phakisa – a presidential initiative – was
launched to accelerate development in the marine sector. This provided a platform
for stakeholders to collaborate and highlight areas of interest. A commitment was
made to increase protection to 10% by 2019, which prompted research to identify
the areas that are most representative of our marine environment, as well as how
challenges faced by the current MPA network can be addressed.
Matthew Lewis
Department of Biological Sciences
Ecology of Marine-Foraging Chacma Baboons
The chacma baboons of the Cape Peninsula are well-known for their tendency
to raid vehicles, residences and farms. However, there are still baboons on the
peninsula that do not engage in such behaviour, but supplement their diets with
animal-derived foods from the marine intertidal zone. This behaviour is unusual
in baboons, and remains poorly understood from an ecological point of view. For
his doctoral thesis, Lewis investigated the exploitation of marine foods in the last
remaining natural-foraging troop of chacma baboons on the peninsula. He showed
that marine foods comprise only a small proportion of this troop’s diet. Behavioural
indicators suggest that eating such small amounts of marine food has not
alleviated the stress associated with living predominantly in nutrient-poor fynbos
habitats. Read profile story

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