Sanushka Naidoo

I am the programme leader of the Eucalyptus and Pine Pathogen Interactions (EPPI) Group at FABI, University of Pretoria. We aim to understand the host responses to invading pathogens with a further view to improve defence responses in such forest trees. My ongoing research is dedicated to uncovering the defence arsenal in Eucalyptus and pine based on the study of the host defensome (or defence transcriptome). We study the interaction between Eucalyptus with the insect pest, Leptocybe invasa, Eucalyptus with the oomycete pathogen, Phytophthora cinnamomi, Eucalyptus with Chrysoporthe austroafricana and Pinus patula with Fusarium circinatum. These pathosystems provide the biological platform to address key questions such as: 1. What is the molecular basis of tolerance and susceptibility? 2. What are the signature defence responses to different types of pests and pathogens?, 3. What are the convergent defence responses in the host? and 4. Which regulatory sequences and defence genes could be targeted for enhancing defence in Eucalyptus or pine?

Jean Mollett

I am currently a Senior Lecturer in the School of Molecular and Cell Biology at Wits University. I obtained my BSc (1986); Hons BSc (1987) and MSc (1989) at Stellenbosch University; and my PhD, at Wits University (2013).
I have been at Wits since 1995. I am involved in and passionate about teaching undergraduate and postgraduate courses in various Genetics topics. I have supervised Honours (20), Masters (5) and PhD (1) research projects involving plant genetic engineering and microsatellite DNA markers for genetic mapping. My lab focusses on building capacity in the field of research involving genetic divergence and hybridization in bird and plant species to inform conservation in southern Africa. Our long term goal is to set up methodologies and techniques to strengthen research and research capacity into the genetics of speciation and into the role of anthropogenic driven changes to the environment, such as climate and land-use change, which can alter bird, plant and insect distributions, their breeding success and survival which has implications in an ecological context.

As my other research interests have been around teaching and learning innovations, I have also done research into investigating worldview differences concerning biotechnology, and how they contribute to epistemological barriers in teaching and learning in two SADC institutions, i.e. Wits University and the University of Namibia.

Dr Steven Hussey

My research focuses on understanding the roles of transcription factors, epigenetics and chromatin structure in the regulation of wood development. My research group has used functional genomics and protein-DNA assays to decipher the regulatory functions of a number of secondary cell wall-related transcription factor genes in Arabidopsis and Eucalyptus. This work includes deciphering the biological roles of secondary cell wall-regulating transcription factors such as SND2, identifying the gene targets and dynamics of their activation by Eucalyptus master regulators of secondary wall formation in fibres and vessels, uncovering the associations of activating and repressive histone modifications during wood formation, determining the accessible chromatin landscape of developing secondary xylem, and designing and producing several hundred synthetic Eucalyptus transcription factors and promoter constructs linked to wood formation as standardized parts for modular assembly methods in synthetic biology.

Irene Barnes

I am an Associate Professor in the Department of Biochemistry, Genetics and Microbiology and a research leader in the Tree Protection Cooperative Program (TPCP) and the Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute (FABI), University of Pretoria. My research focuses mainly on the taxonomy, phylogenetics and population biology of fungal pathogens that infect forest trees. This work includes determining the biodiversity of fungi in plantations and describing new fungal species, tracing the infection pathways of some of the most serious forest pathogens through population genetic studies, and investigating pathogenicity and host specificity factors through comparative genomics. Fungi of particular interest in my group include the pine needle pathogens Dothistroma and Lecanosticta, and the vascular wilt and root rot pathogens in Ceratocystis.

Ncité Lima Da Camara

Ncité Da Camara is a Ph.D. candidate in Molecular Biology (Bioinformatics) in the Division of Molecular Biology and Human Genetics of the Department of Biomedical Sciences at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Science of Stellenbosch University. She completed a BSc degree in Biodiversity and Ecology, as well as a BSc Honours degree and a Master’s degree in Molecular Biology (Bioinformatics) at Stellenbosch University. She is experienced in bioinformatics and wet bench laboratory work. Ncité is a member of the South African Genetics Society executive student council and part of the South African Society for Bioinformatics Newsletter Editorial Team, as well as actively involved in many community outreach projects. She is passionate about learning as well as sharing knowledge. Her current research aims are to develop, evaluate, and implement an analytical pipeline for the analysis of multiplex immunoassay data.



My main research interest is in Animal Genetics, with particular focus on population genetics/genomics and molecular breeding of marine organisms of economic importance to South Africa and applications in conservation and aquaculture. Current projects include research on abalone, scallop and kob . As part of my other academic duties, I also teach undergraduate modules in introductory genetics and biotechnology, as well as a postgraduate module in genetic data analysis.


PhD in Human Molecular Genetics. My study is on HIV and how the host genetic make-up makes on susceptible or resistance to HIV. 


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