Water and health microbiology research facility

The water and health microbiology research facility is key for research on the presence of microorganisms in water and how they impact human health. The aim of the research is to define, understand, control, predict, mitigate and plan for risks associated with pathogenic water-borne microorganisms. Research on the beneficial use of microbes in bioremediation and in the optimisation of ecosystem services is also carried out. The facility includes a number of laboratories that house specialised equipment.

Microbiology and parasitology laboratory
This laboratory serves as a central hub where most core research functions in this domain are carried out. General microbiological analysis (isolation, growth and detection) is carried out here. Water samples are mostly concentrated by filtration and analysed by a number of suitable methods. The laboratory is one of a few accredited by the South African National Accreditation System for the detection and enumeration of protozoan parasites (Giardia and Cryptosporidium) in drinking water.

Microscopy room
Light and fluorescence microscopy is performed in this laboratory, allowing for the visualisation and enumeration of certain bacterial and protozoan organisms. 

Preparation room (Molecular techniques)
This ‘DNA- and RNA-free’ room is used during preparation for molecular techniques that are highly sensitive to contamination, for instance, polymerase chain reaction.

Virus concentration laboratory
Viruses are significantly smaller than other groups of micro-organisms and require ultra-filtration under positive pressure, as opposed to filtration performed with negative (suction) pressure. Samples are also kept at low temperatures while being filtered to prevent the degradation of viral RNA.

Glassware wash and sterilisation room, cold storage rooms and cryo-storage room.

For more information contact:
Liesl Hill
Email: lhill@csir.co.za


Contact Person

Wouter Le Roux

Technical Specifications

Key Concept

Microbiology is the study of microscopic organisms. These organisms can be unicellular (single celled), multicellular (multiple cells) or acellular (not contained within a cell). Microbiology encompasses numerous sub-disciplines, including virology (study of viruses), mycology (study of fungi), parasitology (study of non-bacterial and non-viral parasites) and bacteriology (study of bacteria).