Jeff Ojwach

PhD Candidate

Jeff joined the Murrell lab as a PhD student in December 2021. His project centres around microbial DMSP/DMS degradation to produce methane in anoxic wetland sediments. This project is funded by the Norwich Research Park Biosciences Doctoral Training Programme at the University of East Anglia.

 

Supervisors:

Prof J. Colin Murrell & Prof Jonathan Todd

 

Qualifications:

Master of Science MSc Microbiology (Cum Laude) - University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Dissertation: Synthesis, Detection and Quantification of Inulooligosaccharides and Fructooligosaccharides by Extracellular and Intracellular Inulinase and Fructosyltransferase Enzymes Isolated from Coprophilous Fungi. Advisors: Professor Samson Mukaratirwa and Dr Taurai Mutanda

Awards: 

National Research Foundation (NRF) Scholarship for MSc at the University of KwaZulu-Natal

University of KwaZulu-Natal, Vice chancellors award of Master of Science cum laude

First prize in best poster presentation at the College of Agriculture Engineering and Science Research Day at Westville Campus, University of Kwazulu-Natal.

Golden Key Scholar-University of KwaZulu-Natal top 15% of academic achievers, International Honors Society

 

Master of Science Student Exchange Program. Molecular Parasitology - University of Glasgow, United Kingdom

Project: Does artemisinin induce the formation of stress granules in Plasmodium sp?

Advisors: Professor Andy P Waters FRSE, FMedSci and Dr Katie Hughes

Awards: Wellcome Trust Fellowship, Global Challenge Research Fund (GCRF)

 

Bachelor of Science BSc (Hons) Microbiology (Distinction) - Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Kenya

Awards: Sports scholarship (Rugby) Kenya Harlequins RFC


 

Publications:

Jeff Ojwach*, Adegoke Adetunji, Taurai Mutanda and Samson Mukaratirwa

Oligosaccharide production from coprophilous fungi: An emerging functional food with potential health-promoting properties.

 Biotechnology Reports January 2022 (in press)

 

Jeff Ojwach*, Ajit Kumar, Samson Mukaratirwa and Taurai Mutanda 

Fructooligosaccharides Synthesized by Fructosyltransferase from an Indigenous Coprophilous Aspergillus niger strain XOBP48 Exhibits Antioxidant Activity.

Bioactive Carbohydrates and Dietary Fibre (2020) 

DOI.org/10.1016/j.bcdf.2020.100238.

 

Jeff Ojwach*, Ajit Kumar, Samson Mukaratirwa and Taurai Mutanda

Purification and biochemical characterization of an extracellular fructosyltransferase enzyme from Aspergillus niger sp. XOBP48: Implication in fructooligosaccharide Production.

3 Biotech (2020) DOI: 10.1007/s13205-020-02440-w

 

Jeff Ojwach*, Ajit Kumar, Taurai Mutanda, and Samson Mukaratirwa

Fructosyltransferase and Inulinase Production by Indigenous Coprophilous Fungi for the Biocatalytic Conversion of Sucrose and Inulin into Oligosaccharides.

Journal of Biocatalysis and Agricultural Biotechnology (2020) 

DOI: org/10.1016/j.bcab.2020.101867

 

PhD Project Murrell lab: The Microbiology of Climate Active Gases

Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas with ~30 times more global warming potential than carbon dioxide and with a more rapidly rising atmospheric concentration. It has a high global warming potential due to a strong molar absorption coefficient. There is a large gap (~125 million tons/year) between predictions and measured methane atmospheric concentrations. Natural wetlands are the single largest contributor (~40% of global methane emissions) to the total methane budget (~224 million tons/year). As the concentrations in the atmosphere increased due to uncontrolled anthropogenic methane production, it has become more long-lived and causes damages by creating an imbalance between methane emissions and removals. However, we know little about the substrates and the microbes producing the substantial amount of methane in wetland sediments.

Another understudied route to produce methene is by microbial degradation of Dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP) and dimethylsulfide DMS. DMSP is one of the Earth’s most abundant organosulfur compounds. It is an anti-stress compound with key roles in global nutrient and sulfur cycling, signalling and climate. One of its degradation products, dimethylsulfide (DMS), is also very abundant and considered as a 'climate-cooling gas'. DMS degradation in anoxic sediments leads to the formation of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. Therefore, it is essential to understand the cycling of DMSP, DMS and methane production in anoxic sediments to better understand how microbial metabolism affects the climate in this environment. This PhD aims to elucidate pathways of DMSP/MT/DMS-dependent methane generation and environmental controls over these microbial pathways in anoxic saline and freshwater wetland sediments and to determine the significance of this microbial metabolism in the production of methane in these environments. This project has potential to aid prediction of how much methane will be emitted from wetlands via DMSP/DMS degradation, thus providing robust data to improve climate models and better mitigate the impacts of climate change.

 

Techniques to be used: DNA-SIP, DNA/RNA extraction, PCR, RT-qPCR, high throughput sequence analysis, gas chromatography, LC and LC/MS

Contact Details

School of Environmental Sciences,
University of East Anglia,
Norwich Research Park
Norwich, NR4 7TJ, UK

 

j.ojwach@uea.ac.uk

+44 (0) 7378552172

Jeff Ojwach Photo 2022.jpg