Ms Tshepiso Motlolometsi
Microbiology and Plant Pathology
I am currently pursuing a Master of Science in Microbiology (MSc Microbiology) as part of the Bacterial Genomics and Plant Pathogen Interactions research group, under the supervision of Prof. LN Moleleki. My research project focuses on the role of cyclic dimeric guanosine monophosphate (c-di-GMP) in the regulation of the transition between a sessile and planktonic lifestyle particularly in Pectobacterium carotovorum subsp. brasiliensis (Pcb). This pathogen is known to cause blackleg in potato stem and soft rot in the tuber. As a result, it is important to analyse the impact that the secondary messenger, c-di-GMP, has in Pcb pathogenicity, given that this bacteria has a great effect on potato crop yield in the South African farming industry.
C-di-GMP has been identified as a secondary messenger in 85% of all bacteria and controls the switch between biofilm formation and motility, virulence of animal and plant pathogens progression through the cell cycle and other cellular functions. Through this research the candidate genes encoding the proteins responsible for the production and degradation of c-di-GMP, particularly in Pcb will be elucidated. In addition to this the research project is aimed at identifying c-di-GMP receptors resulting in pathogenesis, the expression profiles of the candidate genes encoding these receptor proteins and the outputs relating to these will be closely monitored. Furthermore the project aims to compare the functional domain sequences in Pcb to those present in other soft rot bacteria such as the Dickeya species.