Prof. M.S. Smit
Academic Departmental Head
Department of Microbial, Biochemical and Food Biotechnology
University of the Free State
PhDs in Organic Chemistry and Microbiology made me ideally suited for a research career in Biocatalysis. When I started my independent research career in 1994, I identified cytochrome P450 monooxygenases (CYPs) as very challenging catalysts that I could spend a career on and today most of my research still centres around P450s. From 1993 until 2005 my research focused on the application of yeasts for the production of organic chemicals via P450 catalysed bioconversions. Since 2006 I also began to consider bacteria as biocatalysts and I began to study 3-D structures of the enzymes involved in more detail, because it became my responsibility within the Paraffin Activation Programme of c*change to compare yeast and bacterial systems for alkane hydroxylation and to understand on a molecular level the enzymes catalyzing these reactions. My research also developed from discovery of new biocatalysts to a stage where we are attempting to develop through metabolic or protein engineering whole cell biocatalysts that can accumulate specific products or enzymes that have specific properties. We have also started using enzymes in cell free extracts and as purified proteins. Applications that currently interest me are terminal hydroxylation of alkanes and, biocatalytic production of aroma compounds. This research is funded by the NRF, the UFS, the DST-NRF Centre of Excellence in Catalysis, the Biocatalysis Initiative of DST and TIA.
1991 – 1993
Ph.D. ( Microbiology), University of the Free State Dissertation: The turnover of exogenous arachidonic acid by the yeast Dipodascopsis uninucleata
1983 – 1986
Ph.D.(Organic Chemistry), Rand Afrikaans University (now University of Johannesburg) Dissertation: The chemistry of vinylnitrosonium ions
M.Sc.(Organic Chemistry)(cum laude), Rand Afrikaans University (now University of Johannesburg)
B.Sc.Hons. (Chemistry)(cum laude), Rand Afrikaans University (now University of Johannesburg)
1977 to 1979
B.Sc. (Chemistry and Mathematics )(cum laude), Rand Afrikaans University (now University of Johannesburg)
Jan 1994 – present
Department of Microbial, Biochemical and Food Biotechnology, University of the Free State, South Africa
1994 – 1998
Senior Lecturer in Microbiology
1998 – 2001
Associate Professor in Microbiology
2002 – present
Professor in Microbiology
2015 – present
Academic Departmental Head
October 2003 – March 2004 (Sabbatical leave): Appointed by the CNRS as a research associate in the laboratory of Dr. J.-M. Nicaud in the “Lab. Génétique des Microorganismes” of the “Institute national agronomique Paris-Grignon”, France.
July 1988 – Nov. 1989
Post doctoral researcher with Prof. D. Ferreira, Chemistry Department, UFS
June 1987 – May 1988
Post doctoral researcher with Dr. D.H. Williams, University Chemical Laboratory, Cambridge University, England.
Ricklefs, E., Girhard, M., Koschorreck, K., Smit, M.S., Urlacher, V.B. (2015)
Two-step one-pot synthesis of pinoresinol from eugenol in an enzymatic cascade.
ChemCatChem 7: 1857 – 1864. doi: 10.1002/cctc.201500182
Pennec, a., Hollmann, F., Smit, M.S., Opperman, D.J. (2015)
One-pot conversion of cycloalkanes to lactones.
ChemCatChem 7: 236 – 239. doi: 10.1002/cctc.201402835
Pennec, A., Jacobs, C.L., Opperman, D.J., Smit, M.S. (2015)
Revisiting cytochrome P450 mediated oxyfunctionalization of linear and cyclic alkanes.
Advanced Synthesis and Catalysis 357: 118 – 130 doi: 10.1002/adsc.201400410
FERRONI, F.M., SMIT, M.S., OPPERMAN, D.J. (2014)
Functional divergence between closely related Baeyer-Villiger monooxygenases from Aspergillus flavus. Journal of Molecular Catalysis B : Enzymatic 107:47–54. doi: 10.1016/j.molcatb.2014.05.015
THERON, C.W., LABUSCHAGNÉ, M., GUDIMINCHI, R.K. ALBERTYN, J., SMIT, M.S. (2014)
A broad-range yeast expression system reveals Arxula adeninivorans expressing a fungal self-sufficient cytochrome P450 monooxygenase as an excellent whole-cell biocatalyst.
FEMS Yeast Research 14: 556-566, DOI: 10.1111/1567-1364.12142
OLAOFE, O.A., FENNER, C.J., GUDIMINCHI, R.K., SMIT, M.S., HARRISON, S.T.L. (2013)
The influence of microbial physiology on biocatalyst activity and efficiency in the terminal hydroxylation of n-octane using Escherichia coli expressing the alkane hydroxylase
CYP153A6 Microbial Cell Factories 12:8
GIRHARD, M., TIEVES, F., WEBER, E., SMIT, M.S., URLACHER, V.B. (2013)
Cytochrome P450 reductase from Candida apicola: versatile redox partner for bacterial P450s, Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
97:1625–1635, DOI: 10.1007/s00253-012-4026-z IF(2010) =
GUDIMINCHI, R.K., RANDALL, C., OPPERMAN, D.J., OLAOFE, O.A., HARRISON, S.T.L., ALBERTYN, J., SMIT, M.S., (2012)
Whole-cell hydroxylation of n-octane by Escherichia coli strains expressing the CYP153A6 operon Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
96:1507–1516 DOI: 10.1007/s00253-012-3984-5
POHL, C.H., SMIT, M.S. ALBERTYN, J. (2011);
Rhodotorula bloemfonteinensis sp. nov., Rhodotorula eucalyptica sp. nov., Rhodotorula orientis sp. nov. and Rhodotorula pini sp. nov., yeasts isolated from monoterpene-rich environments
International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology, 61; 2320–2327
Gudiminchi, R.K., Smit, M.S. (2011)
Identification and characterization of 4-hexylbenzoic acid and 4-nonyloxybenzoic acid as substrates of CYP102A1Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology, 90, 117-126