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The Plant Holobiont Lab at Stellenbosch University is committed to fostering a welcoming and inclusive environment for all members of our community. We believe that diversity, equity, and inclusion are essential to the success of our research and education mission, and we strive to create a climate where everyone can thrive.


We are committed to increasing representation and supporting the success of underrepresented groups in the field of plant science, including but not limited to individuals of diverse racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds; LGBTQ+ individuals; individuals with disabilities; and individuals from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds.


We recognize that diversity, equity, and inclusion are ongoing efforts, and we are committed to continuous learning and improvement in these areas. If you have any suggestions or concerns about our EDI efforts, please do not hesitate to contact us. Together, we can create a more inclusive and equitable community.

Itumeleng Moroenyane

Principal Investigator

Itumeleng is a plant scientist focusing on how interactions between microbes and their plant host are acted upon by evolutionary processes. His current work focuses on understanding which assembly processes are delimiting the plant microbiome, as well as the evolutionary history of niche shifts and stability. This work will contribute to our understanding of how plant microbiomes are assembled and maintained, and more importantly, offer a new perspective on the hologenome theory of evolution.

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Megan Mathese

Lab Manager and Lead Technical officer

Megan Mathese, the proficient Technical Officer of The Plant Holobiont Lab. With her strong background in Genetics from the University of Stellenbosch, she skillfully oversees all aspects of lab management, ensuring smooth operations. Megan's expertise and meticulous approach drive the cutting-edge research at the lab, contributing to groundbreaking discoveries in the field of plant holobiont studies. Her dedication and knowledge make her an invaluable asset to the team.


Bevan Van Der Rheeder

Technical assistance

Bevan is the Technical Assistant in The Plant Holobiont Lab. Bevan is a valuable member of our academic community and provides technical support to undergraduate and postgraduate students during practicals and research projects, ensuring they run seamlessly. Bevan also trains postgraduate students to use specialised equipment, fostering a culture of technical competence and skill acquisition. His contributions enhance the efficiency and efficacy of educational and research pursuits within our plant holobiont science community.


Tandokazi Magangana

Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Tandokazi Magangana has joined our team as a postdoctoral researcher for the AJ-CORE-funded project titled “Advancing Sustainable Soybean Protection and Resilience to Drought Stress in Africa through Holistic Engineering of Host-Microbe Interactions.” With a strong background in agro-processing and metabolomics, Dr. Magangana brings a wealth of expertise in analysing and optimising the biochemical processes within agricultural systems. Her work will play a crucial role in developing innovative strategies to improve soybean resilience to environmental stressors, thus contributing to sustainable agricultural practices in Africa.


Tacha-Marie Joubert

Our intern for the Soybean Microbiome Project: Tacha, a dedicated and enthusiastic researcher passionate about unravelling the mysteries of microbial communities associated with soybean plants.She brings a keen interest in exploring the intricate relationships between soybeans and their microbial partners in the context of environmental sustainability and agricultural resilience. We look forward to witnessing their growth and contributions to this important project.


Tebogo Masetlana

MSc (Botany) candidate

Tebogo Masetlana has confidently joined our research team as an MSc student co-supervised by Prof. Nox Makunga. Her groundbreaking research will focus on unravelling the influence of microbial species pools in aiding abiotic stress in Glycine max and Sutherlandia frutescens. Through her meticulous examination of plant-produced metabolites, Tebogo aims to gain a profound understanding of their pivotal role in microbial assembly and their substantial benefits for enhancing plant resilience. Her work is poised to yield invaluable insights into the complex interactions between plants and their associated microbial communities, thus making significant strides in developing sustainable agricultural practices.

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Michelle Chidavaenzi
Intern 2023

Project: Soybean Culture Collection

Current Role: BSc. (Hons) Genetics

Olianda Zhuwawo
Intern 2023

Project: Soybean Stress Physiology

Current Role: BSc. (Hons) Plant and Soil Science

Chadwin Lindt
Intern 2023

Project: Soybean Stress Physiology

Current Role: Transition to industry

Image by Tasha Jolley

We are looking for you...

Plant enthusiasts, apply now to join our lab studying the plant holobiont! Explore the complex interactions between plants, microbes and their environment. Hands-on experience, collaborations and career development opportunities available. Apply now and take the next step in your plant biology career! #GradStudent #PlantHolobiontLab #ResearchOpportunities"

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