Sunday 31 January 2016


Dr. John P. Moore
Senior Researcher in Grapevine Biochemistry and Biotechnology

Institute for Wine Biotechnology
Department of Viticulture and Oenology
Stellenbosch University, South Africa



I completed my studies at the University of Cape Town where I obtained undergraduate degrees in Biochemistry and a doctorate in Molecular and Cell Biology. My PhD thesis entitled The role of polyphenols and the cell wall in relation to the desiccation tolerance of the resurrection plant Myrothamnus flabellifolia (Welw.) was performed under the principal supervision of the late Associate Professor Wolf Brandt. Through this research work, while under the co-supervision of Professor Jill Farrant, I developed a keen interest in the desiccation and drought tolerance mechanisms of plants. In addition, I became very interested in the chemistry of plant polyphenols and the biochemistry of plant cell walls. During my PhD I spent research periods at the University of Rouen in France where I developed expertise in the biochemistry and microscopy of plant cell walls under the supervision of Professor Azeddine Driouich. After obtaining my doctorate I worked as a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. My research focused on the mechanisms of phenolic coupling, using isotope-based metabolic methods, within the walls of suspension cultured maize (Zea mays) cells in the laboratory of Professor Stephen Fry. Towards the end of 2007 I joined the academic staff of the Institute for Wine Biotechnology (IWBT) at Stellenbosch University where I was appointed as a researcher, and subsequently promoted to senior researcher.


My research focus is on plant cell walls and plant polyphenols. I am interested in Grapevine Molecular Physiology and Biochemistry, Plant Glycobiology and Wine Chemistry. The overarching goals are to improve the scientific understanding around the areas of disease resistance, fruit quality and abiotic stress (i.e. drought) tolerance of Vitis vinifera (grapevine) cultivars. Current research includes unravelling the in vitro, in vivo and in planta interactions between endopolygalacturonases, polygalacturonase inhibitory proteins (PGIPs) and the cell wall of Vitis vinifera in response to fungal pathogen infection. Pathogens studied include Botrytis cinerea, a fungus responsible for both grey and noble rot in grapevine. Areas of interest include grape berry ripening and water deficit from the perspective of the plant cell wall. Current research concerns the role of carbohydrate active enzymes in grape berry deconstruction during winemaking. A further strand of research undertaken involves investigating the role of mannoproteins in relation to growth and fermentation phenotypes of wine yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae). The approach taken is multi-disciplinary in nature involving techniques from a range of fields (i.e. molecular biology, chemistry, biochemistry (enzymology), microscopy, immunocytochemistry and spectroscopy). Research funders include the National Research Foundation (South Africa), Stellenbosch University, Winetech (Wine Industry Network of Expertise and Technology), SATI (South African Table Grape Industry), contract research (e.g. BIO-Laffort, Bordeaux, France), The Royal Society (London, United Kingdom) and the South African Government THRIP (Technology and Human Resources in Industry Programme).