The Forest Molecular Genetics (FMG) Programme, headed by Prof Zander Myburg, is based at the University of Pretoria's Department of Genetics and is affiliated with the Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute (FABI). Our research focuses on the genetic control of wood development in fast-growing plantation trees, primarily Eucalyptus and tropical pines grown in South Africa. We utilise a number of research and technology platforms, namely: tree genomics; high-throughput DNA marker analysis; functional genetics; as well as wood pheno­typing. We work in close collaboration with South African forestry companies, such as Sappi and Mondi, to develop capacity and resources for the application of tree biotechnology in operational tree improvement programmes. This research is supported by grants from the National Research Foundation (NRF), the Tech­nology and Human capacity for Industry Programme (THRIP) and the Department of Science and Technology (DST) of South Africa.

Current projects include:

  1. Population Genomics - Genomic mapping of growth and wood quality traits in Eucalyptus hybrids, genome-wide SNP marker discovery and genotyping in Eucalyptus, and system genetics analysis of cellulose and xylan biosynthesis in Eucalyptus;
  2. Functional Genomics - Carbohydrate active enzyme (CAZyme) genes involved in wood formation in Eucalyptus, and transcriptome-wide prediction of xylem proteome variation in Eucalyptus;
  3. Functional Genetics - Functional analysis of secondary cell wall (SCW) transcriptional network in Eucalyptus, and functional genetics of the SCW related proteins of unknown function.


FMG Brochure 2015 Edition


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Hussey SG, Loots MT, van der Merwe K, Mizrachi E, Myburg AA. (2017) Integrated analysis and transcript abundance modelling of H3K4me3 and H3K27me3 in developing secondary xylem. Scientific Reports 7:3370. 10.1038/s41598-017-03665-1
Vivas M, Kemler M, Mphahlele MM, Wingfield MJ, Slippers B. (2017) Maternal effects on phenotype, resistance and the structuring of fungal communities in Eucalyptus grandis. Environmental and Experimental Botany 140:120-127. 10.1016/j.envexpbot.2017.06.002
Van de Peer Y, Mizrachi E, Marchal K. (2017) The evolutionary significance of polyploidy. Nature Reviews Genetics 18:411-424. 10.1038/nrg.2017.26
Mizrachi E, Verbeke L, Christie N, Fierro AC, Mansfield SD, Davis MF, Gjersing E, Tuskan GA, Van Montagu M, Van de Peer Y, Marchal K, Myburg AA. (2017) Network-based integration of systems genetics data reveals pathways associated with lignocellulosic biomass accumulation and processing. PNAS 10.1073/pnas.1620119114 PDF
Christie N, Myburg AA, Joubert F, Murray SL, Carstens M, Lin Y-C, Meyer J, Crampton BG, Christensen SA, Ntuli JF, Wighard SS, Van de Peer Y, Berger DK. (2017) Systems genetics reveals a transcriptional network associated with susceptibility in the maize-gray leaf spot pathosystem. The Plant Journal 89(4):746-763. 10.1111/tpj.13419