Sakkie Pretorius


  • 11687 Citations
  • 52 h-Index
1983 …2020
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Personal profile


Professor Sakkie Pretorius is internationally recognised as a pioneer in molecular microbiology, biotechnology and translating research outcomes into innovative industry applications. He joined Macquarie University in 2013 and in 2014 his passion for academic excellence and research drove the creation of the University's strategic research framework, World-leading research; World-changing impact. The framework will shape Macquarie's research priorities over the next decade and build upon the Our University: A Framing of Futures project.

Originally from South Africa, Professor Pretorius studied agriculture at the University of the Free State from 1977 until 1986, when he was awarded a PhD for his work on physical, genetic and biochemical characteristics of yeast. He was appointed Professor of Microbiology at Stellenbosch University in 1993, where he later became the founding director of South Africa's Institute for Wine Biotechnology.

By identifying some of the unique characteristics of South African wine production during his ten-year tenure he was part of the team involved in the refooting of the technology of wine production in South Africa. Professor Pretorius' role in this team enabled the burgeoning South African wine industry to grow its production and market presence significantly and attract global recognition for the quality of wines from the region.

Passionate about authentic leadership, prior to taking up his role at Macquarie, Professor Pretorius held the role of Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice-President: Research and Innovation at the University of South Australia. Prior to this he was the Managing Director and CEO of the Australian Wine Research Institute.

In 2014 Professor Pretorius was able to leverage his extensive expertise in wine yeast genetics to help bring the Yeast 2.0 project to Macquarie University. The ground breaking project involves creating the world's first-ever synthetic complex organism and will open the door to both more robust synthetic biology research at Macquarie as well as applications including more eco-friendly biofuel production and better targeted medication.

Professor Pretorius' reputation for excellence extends to the US and Europe, where he has held a series of prestigious part-time and honorary positions. He conducted molecular yeast genetics at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Gottingen, Germany and the Katholike Universiteit in Belgium.

He has published on a range of subjects in more than 200 peer-reviewed research papers (current Scopus h-index of 51 and 69 in Google Scholar), and in addition to being regularly invited to present at conferences, many as keynote speaker, Professor Pretorius has won more than $100 million in funding and filed six patents. He is ranked in the top 1 percent of researchers for Agricultural Sciences and Plant & Animal Science, and is ranked 328th in the world for citations per paper in Agricultural Sciences (Source: Essential Science Indicators: 28 January 2016).

Almost 30 of his papers are in the top 10 percent of the most cited research in Biotechnology & Applied Microbiology, Microbiology, Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, Food & Science Technology, Genetics & Heredity and Mycology (Source: InCites 2016)

Education/Academic qualification

University of The Free State


University of The Free State


University of the Orange Free State


University of The Free State


External positions

Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Land & Food Systems (Food, Nutrition & Health), University of British Columbia

2012 → …

Adjunct Professor, School of Agriculture, Food and Wine, The University of Adelaide


Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice President: Research and Innovation, University of South Australia


Managing Director, Australian Wine Research Institute


Director of Research, Australian Wine Research Institute


Affiliate Professor, School of Agriculture, Food and Wine, The University of Adelaide


Adjunct Professor, Business School, University of South Australia


Honorary Professor, Institute for Wine Biotechnology, University of Stellenbosch


Head of Department of Microbiology, The University of Stellenbosch


Part-time Professor, Department of Food Science and Microbiology (8 weeks per year), Katholieke Universiteit Leuven


Visiting Professor (2 months), Katholieke Universiteit Leuven


Director, Institute for Wine Biotechnology and Professor in Microbiology and Wine Biotechnology , The University of Stellenbosch


Visiting Professor (10 months) as an Alexander von Humboldt Fellow, Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry (Karl Friedrich Bonhoeffer Institute)


Professor, Department of Microbiology, The University of Stellenbosch


Associate Professor, Department of Microbiology, The University of Stellenbosch


Postdoctoral fellow (3 months per year), Albert Einstein College of Medicine


Senior Lecturer, Department of Microbiology, The University of Stellenbosch


Senior Lecturer, Department of Microbiology, University of The Free State


Lecturer, Department of Microbiology, University of The Free State


Junior Lecturer, Department of Microbiology, The University of the Free State


Fingerprint Dive into the research topics where Sakkie Pretorius is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • 6 Similar Profiles
Saccharomyces cerevisiae Medicine & Life Sciences
Wine Medicine & Life Sciences
Yeasts Medicine & Life Sciences
Yeast Chemical Compounds
Fermentation Medicine & Life Sciences
Genes Medicine & Life Sciences
wines Agriculture & Biology
Glucan 1,4-alpha-Glucosidase Medicine & Life Sciences

Network Recent external collaboration on country level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots.

Projects 2014 2020

Research Outputs 1983 2019

Building a global alliance of biofoundries

Hillson, N. J., Caddick, M., Cai, Y., Carrasco, J. A., Chang, M. W., Curach, N. C., Bell, D. J., Le Feuvre, R., Friedman, D. C., Fu, X., Gold, N. D., Herrgård, M. J., Holowko, M. B., Johnson, J. R., Johnson, R. A., Keasling, J. D., Kitney, R. I., Kondo, A., Liu, C., Martin, V. J. J. & 16 othersMenolascina, F., Ogino, C., Patron, N. J., Pavan, M., Poh, C. L., Pretorius, I. S., Rosser, S. J., Scrutton, N. S., Storch, M., Tekotte, H., Travnik, E., Vickers, C. E., Yew, W. S., Yuan, Y., Zhao, H. & Freemont, P. S., 9 May 2019, In : Nature Communications. 10, 10, p. 1-4 4 p., 2040.

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/opinionResearchpeer-review

Open Access
Open Access
Propionic acid
Saccharomyces cerevisiae

Applications of yeast synthetic biology geared towards the production of biopharmaceuticals

Walker, R. S. K. & Pretorius, I. S., Jul 2018, In : Genes. 9, 7, p. 1-22 22 p., 340.

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleResearchpeer-review

Open Access
Synthetic Biology
Metabolic Networks and Pathways

Population sequencing reveals clonal diversity and ancestral inbreeding in the grapevine cultivar Chardonnay

Roach, M. J., Johnson, D. L., Bohlmann, J., van Vuuren, H. J. J., Jones, S. J. M., Pretorius, I. S., Schmidt, S. A. & Borneman, A. R., 20 Nov 2018, In : PLoS Genetics. 14, 11, p. 1-24 24 p., e1007807.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Open Access

Systems-based approaches enable identification of gene targets which improve the flavour profile of low-ethanol wine yeast strains

Varela, C., Schmidt, S. A., Borneman, A. R., Pang, C. N. I., Krömerx, J. O., Khan, A., Song, X., Hodson, M. P., Solomon, M., Mayr, C. M., Hines, W., Pretorius, I. S., Baker, M. S., Roessner, U., Mercurio, M., Henschke, P. A., Wilkins, M. R. & Chambers, P. J., 1 Sep 2018, In : Metabolic Engineering. 49, p. 178-191 14 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Press / Media

Geoscience really rocks

Isak Pretorius


1 media contribution

Press/Media: Research

SCI:How to stop Brett spoiling the wine

Isak Pretorius


1 media contribution

Press/Media: Research

Golden Chance for Students

Isak Pretorius


1 media contribution

Press/Media: Research