Dr Siphathele Sibanda
Microbiology and Plant Pathology
My research aim is to investigate the significance of bacterial communication (quorum sensing) in Pantoea ananatis, a Gram negative phytopathogenic bacterium. Pantoea ananatis is a ubiquitous bacterium that belongs to the family Gamma Proteobacteriaceae. This bacterial species is represented by pathogenic and non-pathogenic strains depending on the host. Pathogenic strains of P. ananatis cause diseases in economically important crops including, corn, rice, sorghum, honeydew melons, pineapples, onions and Eucalyptus. There are three quorum sensing systems in P. ananatis, two luxI/R systems (the EanI/R and the RhlI/R) and the luxS. My PhD focuses on characterisation of quorum sensing systems in P. ananatis. In addition the quorum sensing regulon of the EanI/R system will be identified through RNA sequencing. This study can help enrich available knowledge on the role of quorum sensing in host pathogen interaction and hence help in the formulation of control measures for bacterial infections and diseases.