Prof Rosemary Dorrington

Professor Rosemary Dorrington

BSc Agric (Stell), PhD (UCT)

Prof R Dorrington















As DST/RNF SARChI Professor in Marine Natural Products (MNPs) Research, I lead a large, multidisciplinary research group active across the broad field of marine biodiscovery, including marine biology, microbial ecology, microbial genomics through to marine natural products chemistry and antiviral bioassay development. Our research focus is on the production of bioactive metabolites by marine invertebrates and their associated microbial communities in the context of their environment. My association with the South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity (SAIAB) along with the African Coelacanth Ecosystem Programme research grants provides my research team with unprecedented access to infrastructure including coastal research vessels, field equipment Remotely Operating Vehicle etc. and specialized technical support for collection of benthic biota at depths of up to 400 m along the South African southeast coast. This has resulted in the discovery of new invertebrate species (Parker-Nance et al., 2019) producing novel bioactive MNPs (Kalinski et al., 2019) as well as using metabolomics and microbial genomics to investigate environmental factors that influence secondary metabolite production (Matcher et al., 2017; Waterworth et al., 2017). We are using metagenomics analysis to identify putative biosynthetic pathways for selected MNPs in invertebrate-associated microbiomes. This research is supported by the SAIAB Aquatic Genomics Research Platform (Illumina sequencing). We are collaborating with SAIAB to develop the high-performance computing capacity to support our complete metagenomic data analysis pipeline and data management platform. I have experience in managing large, research projects and currently lead a multi-disciplinary Community of Practice in Marine Science and Marine Spatial Planning.


Research Interests:

  • marine natural product drug discovery

  • functioning of marine ecosystems

  • high-throughput NGS technologies

  • metabolomics of aquatic ecosystems

  • characterization of microbial biodiversity

  • stromatolites and their microbial communities


Academic Qualifications:

1990 – PhD (Microbiology), University of Cape Town

1987 – MSc (Microbiology), University of Cape Town

1983 – BSc Hons (Microbiology), University of Cape Town

1982 – BSC Agric. (Horticulture and Genetics), Stellenbosch University



As Principal Investigator

SAMRC/UK Newton Fund Antibiotic Accelerator Initiative Drug Discovery Partnership Hub (2020 – 2023). “Harnessing Natural Product Diversity to Combat Multidrug Resistance”. R30 million.

DST/NRF SARChI Community of Practice Grant. IUD: 110612 (2020-2022). “PHASE 2 – Marine Spatial Planning for Algoa Bay” Grant Total: R 7 million.

DST/NRF SARChI Grant. IUD: 87583. (2019-2023). “Marine natural products research”. R 10,75 million

As Co-Investigator

UK Global Challenges Research Fund Grant. NERC Reference: NE/S008950/1 (2019-2023). “One Ocean Hub”. Principal Investigator: Prof Elisa Morgera, University of Strathclyde.  Grant Total: GBP 20 million.

Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation grant. IUD: (2018-2021). “How Microbes Use Chemistry to Form Ecosystems in Layered Living Rocks”. Principal Investigator: Prof Kerry McPhail, Oregon State University.  Co-investigators: Prof Pieter Dorestein (UCSD), Dr Jason Kwan (UW-M), Prof Rosemary Dorrington (RU). Grant total: US$ 1,555 million

NRF ACEP grant. IUD (2018-2020). “Deep Forests”. Principal Investigator: Dr Kerry Sink, SANBI. Grant total: R 2,22 million

Infrastructure Funding

NRF National Equipment Programme grants for:

  • Confocal Microscopy Facility (Principal Applicant): R2,3 million (2006, 2008); R3,1 million (2014)

  • GS Junior Pyrosequencing Facility (Principal Applicant): R1,5 million (2011)

Transmission Electron Microscope (Co-Applicant): R4 million (2012)

Research Group

Research Programmes




Contact Information:

Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology, Rhodes University

PO Box 94, Makhanda, South Africa, 6140


Tel: +27 (0) 46 603 8442

Fax: +27 (0) 46 622 3984

Twitter: @DorringtonResGr


Last Modified: Mon, 19 Feb 2024 11:31:12 SAST