Dr. Ngugi Mathew Piero

Biotechnology Students

PhD Students

PhD ( Biotechnology )
Areas of Interest: Medical Biotechnology, Dug Discovery, Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

Project Title: Anthelmintic and Antioxidant properties of Dichloromethane extracts of Maytenus senegalensis and Dalbergia melanoxylon

Project Summary

The study focuses on establishing the bio-active compounds present in Maytenus senegalensis and Dalbergia melanoxylon extracts, their in vivo anthelmintic and in vitro antioxidant activities as well as their in vivo safety.

PhD ( Biotechnology )
Areas of Interest: Phytotherapeutics, Biochemistry, Medical Biotechnology & Medicinal Chemistry

Project Title: Exercise Endurance Capacity of Extracts of Urtica massaica and Mondia whitei

Project Summary

The study focuses on potential of aqueous and dichloromethane extracts of Urtica massaica and Mondia whitei to enhance exercise endurance capacity in mice. Further, the nature and quantities of bioactive phytochemicals of the studied extracts is under study. In vivo antioxidant effects as well as toxicological profiles of the extracts will also be explored.

Celestine Anyango Ochola
PhD ( Biotechnology )
Areas of Interest: Drought tolerance mechanisms, gene expression, Molecular breeding

Project Title: Morpho-physiological, Biochemical and Molecular Dissection of Brachiaria brizantha (A.Rich) Stapf for Drought Tolerance

Project Summary

Drought is a major abiotic stress factor limiting the production and productivity of Brachiaria grass (Brachiaria brizantha) in Kenya. The study aims to characterize the morpho-physiological, biochemical and molecular basis of drought tolerance in Kenyan Brachiaria brizantha accessions. This could establish an essential foundation for development of molecular markers for drought tolerance and breeding programmes in B. brizantha.

PhD ( Biotechnology )
Areas of Interest: Medical Biotechnology, Neurodegenerative disorders and Phytomedicine

Project Title: Anti-Rheumatoid Arthritis Potential and Mechanism of Action of Methanolic Extracts of Combretum molle and Rhamnus prinoides in Wistar Rats

Project Summary

The study is designed to bio-screen for the anti-rheumatoid arthritis potential and mechanism of action including toxicity in vivo and quantitative phytochemical analysis of methanolic extracts of C. molle and R. prinoides in development of alternative anti-rheumatic agents with fewer side effects, affordable and accessible.

PhD ( Biotechnology )
Areas of Interest: Genetics of invasive plant species; Bioprospecting of plants for their medicinal (pharmaceutical) values

Project Title: Genetic Diversity, Medicinal Activities and Phytochemical Profiles of Parthenium hysterophorus Linn in Kenya”.

Project Summary

This research entails determining the genetic relatedness of Parthenium hysterophorus Linn from different regions in Kenya.It also focuses on bioscreening different populations of this plant species for their in vitro and in vivo medicinal properties viz., antiplasmodial, antimalarial, antioxidant and cytotoxic effects. Phytochemicals present in P. hysterophorus L. will also be evaluated.

PhD ( Biotechnology )
Areas of Interest: My general interest is in genomics, biochemical and bioinformatic approaches applied to the study of infectious diseases. Specifically, I am interested in the biochemistry of the malaria parasite as a way of exposing critical biological molecules and pathways that can be exploited for interventions.

Project Title: Dissecting the Molecular Mechanisms of Antimalarial drug; Amodiaquine Resistance in the Malaria Parasites Plasmodium berghei and Plasmodium falciparum

Project Summary

Drug resistance in malaria remains a bottleneck in elimination of disease. To date, the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum has evolved mechanisms for evasion of drug action to all available antimalarial drugs. My research focuses on understanding of mechanism of amodiaquine resistance using P.berghei as a surrogate model of P. falciparum.

Loise Ngithi Ngari
PhD ( Biotechnology )
Areas of Interest: Population Genetics

Project Title: Phytochemical profiling,Genetic Characterization and gene expression of Artemisia annua L Genotypes in Kenya.

Project Summary

Artemisia annua L. also known as sweet wormwood,sweetannieor Qinghao in Chinese language,  belongs to the  family asteraceae of  the genus  artemisia. The active substance in the plant is artemisinin.Artemisinin has proved to be effective in the onslaught against the highly adaptable malaria parasite, which has already become resistant to many other drugs. Due to significant variations in the chemical components and health-promoting effects under different geographical conditions, further study of the changes of the contents of bioactive components in different genotypes,genetic characterization and gene expression could provide more comprehensive and scientific evidence for the efficient utilization of Artemisia annua.

PhD ( Biotechnology )
Areas of Interest: Classical and Molecular Genetics, Molecular Biology, Plant Genetics and Breeding

Project Title: Screening and Breeding of selected inbreds maize line for Tolerance to MLND in Kenya

Project Summary

Breeding for tolerance is only way of dealing with new virus (MLN), screening to evaluate the rsponses of selected inbreds lines and their single crosses will lead to more desirable tolerant hybrids. Those hybrids that are tolerant are crossed with susceptible in 6 by 6 alpha latice design. The screening is done both at green house and two sites, two season at hotspot regions for MLND. Survey to determine level awareness and control methods will also be done. The dissemination of information will be done to advocate for actions against MLND among farmers in hot spot regions and other areas.

Wycliffe Luasi
PhD ( Biotechnology )
Areas of Interest: Plant Biotechnology and Molecular Biology.

Project Title: Bioengineering blast resistance in finger millet through targeted mutagenesis of ethylene response factor transcription factor gene.

Project Summary

Various studies have shown that expression of ethylene response transcription factor gene suppresses expression of defence genes and resistance against Manaportheoryzae, a fungal pathogen that cause blast disease.My research focuses on improving resistance of finger millet against blast disease by introducing frameshift mutations in ethylene response transcription factor gene through site-specific mutagenesis.

PhD ( Biotechnology )
Areas of Interest: Phytomedicine and Biopesticides

Project Title: Phytochemical Profiles and Bioefficacy of Selected Organic Leaf Extracts of Tithonia diversifoliaand Vernonia lasiopus against Sitophilus zeamais

Project Summary

The study focuses on the determination of phytochemical profiles of selected organic leaf extracts of T.diversifolia and V.lasiopus and their use as alternative and/ or complementary agent against Sitophilus Zeamais. It explores the toxicity, repellency, oviposition detterence, F1 progeny emergence inhibition and antifeedant effects ofthe extracts on  weevils.Further, the study sought to determine the extracts mode of actionthrough their effects on AChE.

PhD ( Biotechnology )
Areas of Interest: Molecular Biology, Genetic Engineering, Biotechnology

Project Title: Genetic transformation of farmer preferred riceusing xvsap1-xvald1 transgenes for drought tolerance

Project Summary

Rice (Oryza sativa L.) forms 23% of daily caloric intake for 3.5 billion people worldwide. However, its production is constrained by drought, which is execrated by climate change. This study will utilize Agrobacterium-mediated genetic engineering protocol to transfer xvsap1-xvald1 transgenes to selected rice genotypes. In the short-term, this project will lead to development of drought tolerant rice genotypes that will provide farmers with a better alternative, hence, improving their livelihoods and eventually contributing to food security in Kenya.

Jane Mbithe Muinde
PhD ( Biotechnology )
Areas of Interest: Biotechnology, Forensics.

Project Title: Determination of Allele Frequencies for the Kenyan Population using Globalfiler® and Yfiler® plus Markers for Advanced Forensics

Project Summary

This study focuses on determining autosomal and Y STR allele frequency variation across the Kenyan language groups in order to provide reference data and to assess population structure. This will be done by analysing 21 autosomal STRs in the GlobalFiler multiplex and 27 YSTR markers in Yfiler Plus, in a sample of 510 indigenous Kenyan males.

Susan Nyawira Kimuni
PhD ( Biotechnology )
Areas of Interest: Pharmacology and Drug development, Complementary and Alternative medicine.

Project Title: Phytochemical profile, antinociceptive, antiinflammatory, antipyretic and toxicity effects of methanolic extracts of Cissampelos parreira Linn, Lantana camara Linn and Ocimum gratissimum African basil

Project Summary

Cissampelos parreira Linn, Lantana camara Linn and Ocimum gratissimum African basil plant material are used in traditional medicine in some communities around the world in the control of pain, inflammation and fever. This study seeks to determine the anti-inflammatory, antinociceptive and antipyretic effects of methanolic leaf extracts of C. parreira (L.), Lantana camara (L.) and O. gratissimum (A.) in animal models. The study will also analyze the phytochemical and safety profiles of the three plant extracts.

Masters Students

Masters ( Biotechnology )
Areas of Interest: Medical Biotechnology and Natural Product Research

Project Title: Ameliorative Potential of Cleome gynandraExtracts Against Lead andMercury Induced Toxicity in Mice Models.

Project Summary

The study focuses on the potential of an important medicinal plant exract (Cleome gynandra) in to ameliorate Lead and Mercury-induced toxicity in mice models. Quantitative phytochemical profile of the extract is also being determined and its antioxidant potential is also under study.

Masters ( Biotechnology )
Areas of Interest: Molecular diversity, myco-biocontrol of insect pests

Project Title: Molecular Identification and Effective Management of Thaumatotibia leucotreta using Beauveria bassiana from Persea americana in Murang’a County

Project Summary

The study focuses on investigating genetic characterization and the efficacy test of Beauveria bassiana in management of Thaumatotibia leucotreta in the laboratory

Masters ( Biotechnology )
Areas of Interest: Microbial Biotechnology, Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Project Title: In vitro Antimicrobial and Antioxidant Activities of Extracts of SennaSingueana (Dlile), GrewiaTembensis(Fresesn) and XerophytaSpekei(Baker).

Project Summary

This study focuses on determining the antimicrobial and antioxidant activities of Senna Singueana (Dlile), GrewiaTembensis(Fresesn) and XerophytaSpekei(Baker)extracts as well as their quantitative phytochemical compositions.

Masters ( Biotechnology )
Areas of Interest: Biotechnology in Drug development, Bioremediation, Bioenergy production.

Project Title: Antibacterial, Antioxidant and Phytochemical Profiling of Aqueous Extracts of Eriobotrya Japonicalindl

Project Summary

Treatment of microbial infectionswhich causes remarkable global morbidity and mortality with numerous hospitalizations and over 41 percent of the global disease burden in terms of Disability-Adjusted Life Years (DALYS) is hampered by emergence of multidrug resistant pathogens. With bacterial infections, ROS are produced by host phagocytes leading to oxidative stress. This study, therefore, evaluates the in vitro antimicrobial activity of aqueous leaf, stem bark and roots extracts of Eriobotrya japonica against Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus aureus and Bacillus subtilis. The study will further determine the antioxidant potential and phytochemical composition of the plant extract.

Masters ( Biotechnology )
Areas of Interest: Genetic diversity and its implications in crop improvement, molecular and morphological characterization, molecular breeding.

Project Title: Genetic and Morphological Characterization of Pigeon pea (CajanuscajanL) using Simple Sequence Repeat(SSR) Markers

Project Summary

Breeding for drought tolerance in crops is widely used in Africa and this research is aimed at promoting traditional drought tolerant crops like pigeon pea(Cajanuscajan). The research determines the diversity among pegion pea genotypes grown in Kenya using morphological and simple sequence repeat markers.

Masters ( Biotechnology )
Areas of Interest: Biotechnology in Pest management,Bio-pesticides, Drug development

Project Title: Bio-efficacy of Zingiberofficinaleand Capsicum frutescentExtracts Against Callosobruchus maculatus.

Project Summary

Legumes production is highly restricted by insect pests,  both in the field and in the stores causing major postharvest losses. The major pest is an internal-feeding cowpea weevil, Callosobruchus maculatus. This in vivo study aims to evaluate the efficacy of organic extracts of Zingiber officinale (ginger) and Capsicum frutescent (pepper) against,Callosobruchus maculatus.

Masters ( Biotechnology )
Areas of Interest: Molecular biology, oncology, molecular genetics.

Project Title: Effects of targeted organ specific knockdown of MRP1 on lipid, carbohydrate levels and on feeding patterns In Drosophila Melanogaster.

Project Summary

The multi-resistance protein ABCC1/ MRP1 transporter proteins are known to control the passage of several important metabolic substances and drugs in the body.Moreover, they are the most dominant link with multidrug resistance (MDR) and antibacterial resistance mechanisms in the body. This study seeks to determine the effects of silencing MRP1 in Drosophila Melanogaster,evaluating the critical roles MRP1 plays in cell biology that are independent of its function as a drug efflux pump.

Rose Mweru Muruo
Masters ( Biotechnology )
Areas of Interest: Plant response to environmental signals, cereal genetics, agricultural biotechnology.

Project Title: Performance and nutritional assessment of transgenic maize under drought stress in Kenya.

Project Summary

Drought stress is a prime abiotic constraint to agricultural productivity. Development of drought tolerant varieties via agrobacterium mediated transformation of staple food crops is key to overcoming food insecurity. The study investigates the stability of Psark::ipt gene in tropical Zea mays L., its nutritional profile as well as performance under drought stress for possible advancement to field trials.

Masters ( Biotechnology )
Areas of Interest: Plant Biotechnology and Molecular Biology.

Project Title: Effects of silencing cytochrome P450 genes (CYP7D1/D2) on Cyanogenic Glycoside synthesis and Nutrition in Generations of Transgenic cassava (Manihot esculenta Crantz).

Project Summary

Cassava is among the world’s most important food crop. However, it accumulates toxic cyanogenic glycosides in its roots, stems and leaves which causes chronic illnesses and even death. Cassava with low levels of cyanogenic glycosides have been successfully generated through RNAi. However, it has not been determined whether this down regulation will be stable in its’ subsequent vegetative cycles of propagation. This study seeks to evaluate the effects of silencing cytochrome P450 genes in the synthesis of cyanogenic glycosides in the first vegetative cycle of propagation as well as assess any variation in nutritional composition between the transgenic and its’ non-transgenic counterparts.

Eunice Wothaya Muthee
Masters ( Biotechnology )
Areas of Interest: Medical Biotechnology

Project Title: In vivo anti-inflammatory activities of dichloromethane and methanolic extracts of Ficus sycomorus in mice model

Project Summary

The study focuses on the quantitative phytochemical profiles and to determine the in vivo anti-inflammatory activities of methanolic and dichloromethane extracts of Ficus sycomorus as alternative medicine in management of inflammation.