Programa Ciência Aberta - Bioenergia
Book: Global Bioethanol
Evolution, Risks, and Uncertainties
Book: Sugarcane Bioenergy for Sustainable Development
Expanding Production in Latin America and Africa
Policy Brief Sustainable Bioenergy
Latin America and Africa

Curriculum Vitae: 2003-2008 (Abridged)

Derek Alexander Watt

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BSc Hons (1982) MSc (1986) HDipEd (1981) (Witwatersrand) PhD (1992) (Natal)

Current Position

South African Sugarcane Research Institute

Variety Improvement Programme Manager (2006 to Present)

Senior Scientist: Biotechnology (1998 to Present)

University of KwaZulu-Natal

Honorary Senior Lecturer: School of Biological and Conservation Sciences (2003 to Present)

Postgraduate Student Supervision (2003-2008)


Year of Graduation


In Progress

· EH Albertse (PhD, registration pending) University of Cape Town

· R Jacob (MSc, registration pending) University of KwaZulu-Natal (Westville Campus)

· B Small (MSc, Year 1) University of KwaZulu-Natal (Westville Campus)

· CM Phyfer (MSc, Year 2) University of KwaZulu-Natal (Westville Campus)

· AT Sabela (MSc, Year 2) University of KwaZulu-Natal (Westville Campus)

· L Martin (née Perry) (MSc, Year 3 Part-Time; Submitted) University of KwaZulu-Natal (Pietermaritzburg Campus)


· AJ McCormick (PhD) University of KwaZulu-Natal (Howard College Campus)


· M Mukherjee (MSc) University of KwaZulu-Natal (Howard College Campus)


· AJ McCormick (MSc) University of Stellenbosch

Current Research


Research Theme

Funding source

· Post-harvest biology of sugarcane.

· Molecular physiology of source-sink relationships in sugarcane.

· Manipulation through transgenesis of regulatory enzymes of sucrose metabolism in sugarcane.

· Physiology and molecular biology of silicon uptake by sugarcane.


SASRI, UKZN/Lifelab4, NRF5



1 South African Sugarcane Research Institute

2 National Research Foundation, South Africa

3 NRF Free-Standing MSc Bursary: Lauren Anne Martin (née Perry)

4 University of KwaZulu-Natal/Lifelab National Genomics Platform

5 NRF Grantholder’s (Prof MD Cramer, UCT) PhD Bursary: Alistair James McCormick

6 THRIP contribution to collaboration between SASRI and the Institute of Plant Biotechnology

(Stellenbosch University)

7 NRF Free-Standing MSc Bursary: Clare Mari Phyfer




Team Members

Sugar sensing and signaling-mediated regulation of photosynthesis in sugarcane (2008 –


Project Manager and Principal Investigator

Dr BAM Potier, Dr DL Sweby, Ms R Jacob (Molecular Biologists: SASRI), Mrs GM Meyer (Biotechnologist), Dr Marna van der Merwe (Post-Doctoral Fellow: IPB1), EH Albertse (Biochemist: SASRI), Prof MD Cramer (Plant Physiologist: UCT2)

Detecting Deterioration with an E-nose: Establishing the Ground Truth for Instrument Training and Calibration (2008 – 2011)

Student Supervisor and Principal Investigator

Dr RS Rutherford (Project Manager; Student Co-Supervisor), Bashan Naidoo3 (Student Co-Supervisor), Brendon Small (MSc Student)

Analysis of transgenic sugarcane lines designed to test perturbed sucrose metabolism. (2007 – 2010)

Project Manager and post-doctoral fellow mentor

Prof J Kossmann (Director: IPB), Dr B Huckett (Research Manager: SASRI), Dr S Snyman (Biotechnologist), Dr N Swart (Post-Doctoral Fellow: IPB), Ms A Spracklen (MSc Student).

Investigating and manipulating silicon uptake in sugarcane (2007 – 2010)

Project Manager and Student Supervisor

Dr BAM Potier (Molecular Biologist), Dr SJ Snyman (Biotechnologist), Dr M Keeping (Entomologist), Dr O Mokotedi (Collaborator: UKZN [Westville]4), Mrs R Jacob (Molecular Biologist; MSc Student), Mrs Gwethlyn Meyer (Biotechnologist), Ms C Phyfer (MSc Student)

1 Institute for Plant Biotechnology, University of Stellenbosch

2 Botany Department, University of Cape Town

3 School of Electrical, Electronic and Computer Engineering, University of KwaZulu-Natal (Howard College Campus)

4 School of Biological and Conservation Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal (Westville Campus)

Publications (2003-2008)


Refereed Journal Articles

McCormick AJ, Cramer MD & DA Watt (2008). Culm sucrose accumulation promotes physiological decline of mature leaves in ripening sugarcane. Field Crops Research 108: 250-258.

McCormick AJ, Cramer MD & DA Watt (2008). Differential expression of genes in the leaves of sugarcane in response to sugar accumulation. Tropical Plant Biology 1: 142-148.

McCormick AJ, Cramer MD & DA Watt (2008). Regulation of photosynthesis by sugars in sugarcane leaves. Journal of Plant Physiology 165, 1817-1829.

McCormick AJ, Cramer MD & DA Watt (2008). Changes in photosynthetic rates and gene expression of leaves during a source-sink perturbation in sugarcane. Annals of Botany 101, 89-102.

Snyman SJ, C Baker, Huckett BI, McFarlane SA, van Antwerpen T, Berry S, Omarjee J, Rutherford RS & DA Watt (2008). South African Sugarcane Research Institute: Embracing Biotechnology for Crop Improvement Research (Invited Review). Sugar Tech 10, 1-13.

McCormick AJ, Cramer MD & DA Watt (2006). Sink strength regulates photosynthesis in sugarcane. New Phytologist 171, 759-770.

Mukherjee M, Watt DA & P Berjak (2006). Molecular detection and diagnosis of fungal contaminants of recalcitrant seeds: Quercus robur L. acorns as a model system. Seed Science and Technology 34, 437-449.

Hoefsloot G, Termorshuizen AJ, Watt DA & MD Cramer (2005). The contribution of diazotrophic bacteria to the nitrogen budget of a commercially grown South African sugarcane cultivar. Plant and Soil 277, 85-96.

Watt DA, McCormick AJ, Govender C, Carson DL, Cramer MD, Huckett BI & FC Botha (2005). Increasing the utility of genomics in unravelling sucrose accumulation. Field Crops Research 92: 149-158.

Watt DA (2003). Aluminium-responsive genes in sugarcane: identification and analysis of expression under oxidative stress. Journal of Experimental Botany 54: 1163-1174.

Articles accepted or In Press

McCormick AJ, Watt DA & MD Cramer (2009). Supply and demand: sink regulation of sugar accumulation in sugarcane. Journal of Experimental Botany doi: 10.1093/jxb/em310.

Watt DA & MD Cramer (2009). Post-harvest biology of sugarcane. Sugar Tech (Accepted).

Non-Refereed Publications and Conference Proceedings

McCormick AJ, Cramer MD & DA Watt (2007). Photosynthesis and the regulatory role of sucrose and hexose in sugarcane leaves. Proceedings of the International Society of Sugar Cane Technologists 26: 948-952.

Perry LA, Hunter C & DA Watt (2007). Impact of post-harvest delays and temperature on cane deterioration. Proceedings of the International Society of Sugar Cane Technologists 26: 1026-1030.

McCormick AJ, Cramer MD & DA Watt (2005). Sink Strength affects assimilate distribution and photosynthesis in sugarcane. Proceedings of the South African Sugar Technologists’ Association 79: 514-516.

Watt DA (2005). Do external oxygen levels influence sucrose metabolism in the sugarcane stalk? Proceedings of the South African Sugar Technologists’ Association 79: 518-520.