Researcher Profiles

Comprehensive Database of all UZ leading Research and Innovation endeavors

Prof. Idah Sithole Niang


PhD in Biochemistry (Michigan State University, 1988)

Academic Appointments:


Research Interests:

Genetic improvement of cowpea, and on bacterial metagenomics
Biotechnology and Biosafety

Faculty: Science
Department: Biotechnology and Biochemistry
Research Category: Bioscience

Professor Idah Sithole-Niang is a Professor in the Department of Biochemistry, University of Zimbabwe, which she joined in 1992. She obtained a PhD in Biochemistry from Michigan State University where she specialized in molecular virology working with chicken and turkey herpesviruses developing subunit vaccines. Following her doctoral studies she pursued a post doctoral fellowship working on the genetics of photosynthesis in cyanobacteria. She teaches molecular biology to science and medical students. She conducts research on the genetic improvement of cowpea, and on bacterial metagenomics. She maintains a very keen interest on Biotechnology and Biosafety issues and has written authoritative articles on both subjects.

Phone: +263 242 303211

1. Murdock, L., Sithole-Niang, I. & Higgins, T. J. V. (2013). Transforming the cowpea, an African orphan staple crop grown predominantly by women. In D. Bennett and C. Jennings (Eds.), Successful Agricultural Innovation in Emerging Economies: New Genetic Technologies for Global Food Production (pp. 221-232). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
2. Mundembe, R., R.A Allison and I. Sithole-Niang. 2011. Genetic Engineering for resistance to viruses. Ed. Hugo A. Barrera-Saldaña: In Genetic Engineering - Basics, New Applications and Responsibilities. Intech Press, Rijeka, pp121-144. ISBN 978-953-308-81-5.
3. Mundembe, R., A. Matibiri and I. Sithole-Niang. 2009. Transgenic plants expressing the Cowpea aphid borne mosaic potyvirus coat protein gene predominantly convey the delayed symptom development phenotype. African Journal of Biotechnology Vol. 8 (12) 2682-2690.
4. Murdock, L.L., Coulibaly, O., Higgins, T.J.V., Huesing, J.E., Ishiyaku, M and Sithole-Niang, I. 2008. Cowpea. Edited by Chittaranjan Kole and Timothy C. Hall. Compendium of Transgenic Crop Plants: Transgenic Legume Grains and Forages. Blackwell Publishing, Oxford, pp23-56. ISBN 978-1-405-16924-0
5. Mlotshwa, S., J. Verver, I. Sithole-Niang, K., Gopinath, J. Carette, Ab van Kammen and J. Wellink. 2002. Subcellular Location of the Helper Component-Proteinase of Cowpea Aphid-Borne Mosaic Virus. Virus Genes 25 (2) 207-216.
6. Mlotshwa, S., I. Sithole-Niang, Ab van Kammen and J. Wellink. 2002. Cloning and sequence of the helper-component proteinase of a Zimbabwe isolate of cowpea aphid-borne mosaic virus. Archives of Virology 147: 1043-1052.
7. Mlotshwa, S., J. Verver, I. Sithole-Niang, M. Prins, Ab van Kammen and J. Wellink. 2002. Transgenic Plants Expressing HC-Pro Show Enhanced Virus Sensitivity While Silencing of the Transgene Results in Resistance. Virus Genes 25 (1) 45-57.
8. Sithole-Niang, I, T. Nyathi, D. P. Maxwell and T. Candresse. 1996. Sequence of the 3’ terminal region of a Zimbabwean isolate of cowpea aphid-borne mosaic virus (CABMV). Archives of Virology 141: 935-943.
9. Smart, L.B., N.R. Bowlby, S.L. Anderson, I. Sithole, and L. McIntosh. 1994. Genetic manipulation of the cyanobacterium Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803: Development of strains lacking PSI for the analysis of mutations in PSII. Plant Physiology 104:349-354.
10. Debus, R.J., B.A. Barry, I. Sithole, G.T. Babcock, and L. McIntosh. 1988. Directed mutagenesis indicates that the donor to P680+ in Photosystem II is tyr-161 of the D1 polypeptide. Biochemistry 27:9071-9074.

Patented Work:

Grants & Funding (current and Past projects):

1. Bioprospecting for anti-HIV molecules in wild plants of Zimbabwe
2. Integrated legume improvement project
3. Molecular Biology Training Kit
4. Cowpea project

Awards & Achievements:

1. World Academy of Sciences Fellow, 2018
2. Outstanding Graduate Woman of the Year Award,
3. Michigan State University, 1988, the First William Brown Fellowship, 1990,
4. The Rockefeller Biotechnology Career Fellowship, 1992.

Consultancy and advisory work (current and past):

Supervision information (MPhil, DPhil, etc.):

Professional membership, Committees, Boards:

1. Technical Advisor for sub-Saharan Africa on the Program for Biosafety Systems
2. Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of the AATF.
3. Ambassador of the International Society for Microbial Ecology,
4. Member of the Zimbabwe Academy of Sciences,
5. Vice- Chairperson of the Research Council of Zimbabwe,
6. Fellow of the Salzburg Seminars, Co-coordinator of the Network for the Genetic Improvement for Africa,
7. Board Chair of Science House for African Youth (SHAY)
8. Advisory board member, ELEVATE

External Profile Links (Google Scholar, ResearchGate, LinkedIn, other social media links):

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