Phathi Sibanda is the latest postgraduate student at FABI to complete a PhD degree in 2017. She marked the occasion by delivering her prestige seminar in front of her family, friends and colleagues on 22 March. This was followed by a successful defence of her PhD thesis in an oral exam with Dr Frederique van Gijsegem from the Department of Plant Health and Environment at the French National Institute for Agricultural Research, France, and Prof. Fanus Venter of the Department of Microbiology and Plant Pathology at the University of Pretoria as external examiners.

Phathi completed her research project under the supervision of Prof. Teresa Coutinho, Prof. Lucy Moleleki and Dr. Divine Shyntum. She summarised her research findings in her presentation titled “Functional analysis of quorum sensing in Pantoea ananatis LMG 2665T”. Pantoea ananatis is a bacterium that causes disease symptoms in economically important food crops such as maize, sorghum and pineapple as well as Eucalyptus.

Phathi discussed the quorum sensing systems of the bacterium, a process of cell-to-cell communication that involves the production, detection and response to autoinducers that is also important for understanding multi-gene expression. Quorum sensing helps prevent the expression of pathogenicity factors until bacterial cell densities are high enough for a successful infection. The study will deepen understanding about host-pathogen interactions and help in the development of measures to control infection and disease caused by the bacterium.





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Marincowitz S, Duong TA, Heiniger U, Wingfield BD, Wingfield MJ, De Beer ZW. (2017) A new Leptographium species from the roots of declining Pinus sylvestris in Switzerland. Forest Pathology 10.1111/efp.12346
Faulkner KT, Hurley BP, Robertson MP, Rouget M, Wilson JRU. (2017) The balance of trade in alien species between South Africa and the rest of Africa. Bothalia 47 10.4102/abc.v47i2.2157
Van der Linde JA, Wingfield MJ, Crous CJ, Six DL, Roux J. (2017) Landscape degradation may contribute to large-scale die-offs of Euphorbia ingens in South Africa. South African Journal of Botany 111:144-152. 10.1016/j.sajb.2017.03.022 PDF
Kenis M, Hurley BP, Hajek A, Cock MJW. (2017) Classical biological control of insect pests of trees: facts and figures. Biological Invasions 10.1007/s10530-017-1414-4
Van der Linde JA, Six DL, Wingfield MJ, Roux J. (2017) Fungi and insects associated with Euphorbia ingens die-off in South Africa. Southern Forests 10.2989/20702620.2016.1263004 PDF