Professor Fanus Venter, is a professor in the Department of Biochemistry, Genetics and Microbiology and Deputy Director of the Forestry and Agriculture Biotechnology Institute (FABI). The main focus of his research is bacterial evolution, systematics and diversity. He heads an active research programme in which, through the use of comparative genomics, an attempt is made to understand the functions, biology and evolution of bacteria associated with plants and aquatic environments. His particular interest is in the bacterial systematics of the nitrogen-fixing Paraburkholderia, Bradyrhizobium and Mesorhizobium species isolated from indigenous legumes in South Africa. His group has already described several new species belonging to these genera.