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The bacterial genomics and host pathogen interactions group is based at the University of Pretoria Department of Microbiology and Plant Pathology under the leadership of Dr Lucy Moleleki. Potato is an economically important crop plant contributing significantly to the South African economy. Pests and pathogens contribute significantly to annual production losses. Currently, the research group focuses on the Soft Rot Enterobacteriaceae and Root Knot Nematodes (Meloidogyne spp) of potatoes. To increase productivity, accurate identification of these pathogens is essential hence one of the focus areas of the research is molecular identification of potato pathogens. Pathogens overcome host defences by interfering with various host surveillance system. Hence, we endeavour to use genomics and transcriptomics to identify bacterial virulence factors as well as elucidate host defence mechanisms being targeted by these virulence factors.

Completed and Current project

Root Knot Nematodes

We recently completed a survery of root knot nematode species infecting potato plants in different growing regions across South Africa. In this survey the genetic diversity of the different Meloidogyne spp was profiled. Future studies will focus on understanding interactions of Meloidogyne spp and other potato pathogens as well as host plant potato.

Soft Rot Pathogens

We are currently using a variety of functional and comparative genomic tools to study the interaction of Pectobacterium spp in host plant potato during colonisation in a susceptible vs resistant host.

Group Leader: Dr Lucy Moleleki

New Publications

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Gorshkov V, Kwenda S, Petrova O, Osipova E, Gogolev Y, Moleleki LN. (2017) Global Gene Expression Analysis of Cross-Protected Phenotype of Pectobacterium atrosepticum. PLoS ONE 12(1) 10.1371/journal.pone.0169536
Weller-Stuart T, Toth I, De Maayer P, Coutinho T. (2017) Swimming and twitching motility are essential for attachment and virulence of Pantoea ananatis in onion seedlings. Molecular Plant Pathology 10.1111/mpp.12432
Kwenda S, Motlolometsi TV, Birch PRJ, Moleleki LN. (2016) RNA-seq profiling reveals defense responses in a tolerant potato cultivar to stem infection by Pectobacterium carotovorum ssp. brasiliense. Frontiers in Plant Science 7(1905) 10.3389/fpls.2016.01905
Kwenda S, Birch PRJ, Moleleki LN. (2016) Genome-wide identification of potato long intergenic noncoding RNAs responsive to Pectobacterium carotovorum subspecies brasiliense infection. BMC Genomics 17(614) 10.1186/s12864-016-2967-9
Sibanda S, Theron J, Shyntum DY, Moleleki LN, Coutinho TA. (2016) Characterization of two LuxI/R homologs in Pantoea ananatis LMG 2665 T. Canadian Journal of Microbiology 62(11):893-903. 10.1139/cjm-2016-0143
Moleleki LN, Pretorius RG, Tanui CK, Mosina G, Theron J. (2016) A quorum sensing‐defective mutant of Pectobacterium carotovorum subsp. brasiliense 1692 is attenuated in virulence and unable to occlude xylem tissue of susceptible potato plant stems. Molecular Plant Pathology 10.1111/mpp.12372
Kwenda S, Gorshkov V, Ramesh AM, Naidoo S, Rubagotti E, Birch PRJ, Moleleki LN. (2016) Discovery and profiling of small RNAs responsive to stress conditions in the plant pathogen Pectobacterium atrosepticum. BMC Genomics 17(1) 10.1186/s12864-016-2376-0
Onkendi EM, Ramesh AM, Kwenda S, Naidoo S, Moleleki LN. (2016) Draft Genome Sequence of a Virulent Pectobacterium carotovorum subsp. brasiliense Isolate Causing Soft Rot of Cucumber. Genome Announcements 4(1) 10.1128/genomeA.01530-15 PDF
Ronishree Magwanda, Lizahn Zwart, Nicolaas A. van der Merwe, Lucy Moleleki, Dave Kenneth Berger, Alexander A. Myburg, Sanushka Naidoo. (2016) Localization and Transcriptional Responses of Chrysoporthe austroafricana in Eucalyptus grandis Identify Putative Pathogenicity Factors. Front. Microbiol. 10.3389/fmicb.2016.01953
Mongae A, Moleleki L. (2015) The effect of β-aminobutyric acid (BABA) on root knot nematode and soft rot pathogen disease complexes in Solanum tuberosum plants. European Journal of Plant Pathology 142(1):117-124. 10.1007/s10658-015-0596-9
Shyntum D, Theron J, Moleleki L, Toth I, Venter SN, Coutinho TA. (2014) Pantoea ananatis utilizes a type VI secretion system for pathogenesis and bacterial competition. Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions 10.1094/MPMI-07-14-0219-R
De Maayer P, Chan WY, Rubagotti E, Venter SN, Toth IK, Birch PR, Coutinho TA. (2014) Analysis of the Pantoea ananatis pan-genome reveals factors underlying its ability to colonize and interact with plant, insect and vertebrate hosts. BMC Genomics 15:404. 10.1186/1471-2164-15-404 PDF
Onkendi EM, Moleleki LN. (2014) Characterization of Pectobacterium carotovorum subsp. carotovorum and brasiliense from diseased potatoes in Kenya. European Journal of Plant Pathology 139:557-566. 10.1007/s10658-014-0411-z
Shyntum DY, Venter SN, Moleleki LN, Toth I, Coutinho TA. (2014) Comparative genomics of type VI secretion systems in strains of Pantoea ananatis from different environments. BMC Genomics 15:163. 10.1186/1471-2164-15-163
Onkendi EM, Kariuki GM, Marais M, Moleleki LN. (2014) Threat of root-knot nematodes (Meloidogyne spp.) in Africa: a review. Plant Pathology 63(4):727-737. 10.1111/ppa.12202
Petrova O, Gorshkov V, Daminova A, Ageeva M, Moleleki LN, Gogolev Y. (2014) Stress response in Pectobacterium atrosepticum SCRI1043 under starvation conditions: adaptive reactions at a low population density. Research Microbiology 165(2):119-127. 10.1016/j.resmic.2013.11.004
Onkendi EM, Maluleke N, Moleleki LN. (2013) First report of Pectobacterium carotovorum subsp. brasiliense causing soft rot and blackleg diseases of potatoes in Kenya. Plant Disease 98(5):684. 10.1094/PDIS-09-13-0988-PDN
Kubheka GC, Coutinho T, Moleleki N, Moleleki LN. (2013) Colonisation patterns of a mCherry-tagged Pectobacterium carotovorum subsp. brasiliense in potato. Phytopathology 103(12):1269-1279. 10.1094/PHYTO-02-13-0049-R
Onkendi EM, Moleleki LN. (2013) Genetic diversity of root-knot nematodes (Meloidogyne spp.) in potatoes from South Africa. Plant Pathology 62 :1184–1192. 10.1111/ppa.12035
Amy Charkowski, Sylvie Reverchon, Pablo Rodr´ıguez Palenzuela, Michael San Francisco, Ian Toth, Shinji Tsuyumu, Jacquie van der Waals, Jan van der Wolf, Fr´ed´erique Van Gijsegem, Ching-Hong Yang, Nicole Perna, Andrew Pitman, Minna Pirhonen, Carlos Blanco, Guy Condemine, Dominique Expert, Thierry Franza, Christopher Hayes, Nicole Hugouvieux-Cotte-Pattat, Emilia L´ opez Solanilla, David Low, Lucy Moleleki, Iris Yedidia. (2012) The role of secretion systems and small molecules in soft rot Enterobacteriaceae pathogenicity. Annual Review of Phyotopathology 50:425-49. 10.1146/annurev-phyto-081211-173013