Prof Brett I. Pletschke received his PhD in Biochemistry in 1996 at the University of Port Elizabeth (now Nelson Mandela University) and joined Rhodes University in 2000. Prof Pletschke is currently a Professor of Biochemistry and the previous Head of Biochemistry in the Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology at Rhodes University.
His research interests lie in the fields of enzyme biotechnology and enzymology - and in how we can use enzymes to generate bioproducts (for the African and South African bio-economies in particular). More specifically, he is interested in cellulose- and mannan-degrading enzymes and the production of biofuels and prebiotic manno-oligosaccharides (MOS). He is also interested in seaweed polysaccharides for addressing diabetes, obesity and cancer, and, lastly, in enzymes which can break down non-starch polysaccharides (NSPs) in animal feeds.
He has been a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the European Federation of Biotechnology (EFB), the American Chemical Society (ACS) and the Royal Society of South Africa (RSSA). Prof Pletschke has served as the Vice-President (2008-2010) and President (2010-2012) of the South African Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (SASBMB). In this capacity, he has acted as a voting member for the SASBMB at the International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (IUBMB). He has also contributed several chapters to the UNESCO EOLLS program, which is an integrated on-line compendium of twenty encyclopaedias, which is made freely accessible to disadvantaged individuals and minority groups worldwide.
He has published more than 85 papers in peer-reviewed international journals or books. He has also hosted and supervised several Postdoctoral Fellows, and has successfully supervised and graduated more than 35 (PhD and MSc) students.