Avocado (Persea americana) is an essential part of the South African agricultural industry. Most avocado orchards are located in Limpopo and Mpumalanga. Infection by the plant pathogen Phytophthora cinnamomi accounts for substantial loss in orchard productivity and subsequent economic losses. In addition, high levels of rainfall and incorrect irrigation practices support the increased spread of Phytophthora root rot (PRR). However, the use of tolerant rootstocks such as Dusa®, greatly improves orchard productivity.

Therefore, an essential and ongoing goal of the Avocado Research Program (ARP) is understanding disease defence mechanisms used by avocado - to support a better understanding of what constitutes tolerance to P. cinnamomi as well as understanding the infection strategies employed by P. cinnamomi to cause disease in avocado. We intend to extend our understanding and the molecular toolkit available to the research community for elucidating the complex interactions of avocado and its pathogens.





ARP Team Members

Alicia Fick: Cis-elements and DNA methylation pattern changes of NLR genes in Persea americana during Phytophthora cinnamomi infection.

Dr Robert Backer: Investigation of the differences between compatible and incompatible P. americana (Mill.) - Phytophthora cinnamomi interactions over time: A study focused on 0.12 ZAR-dependent signalling and related pathways.

Aaron Harvey: The complex architecture of the avocado callose synthase genes and their role in the defence response against Phytophthora cinnamomi.




New Publications

Joubert M, van den Berg N, Theron J, Swart V. (2024) Global transcriptomic analysis in avocado nursery trees reveals differential gene expression during asymptomatic infection by avocado sunblotch viroid (ASBVd). Virus Research 339:199263. 10.1016/j.virusres.2023.199263. PDF
Anbu SP, Swart V, van den Berg N. (2023) Unmasking the invaders: NLR-mal function in plant defense. Frontiers in Plant Science 14:1307294. 10.3389/fpls.2023.1307294 PDF
Backer R, Naidoo S, van den Berg N. (2023) The expression of the NPR1-dependent defense response pathway genes in Persea americana (Mill.) following infection with Phytophthora cinnamomi. BMC Plant Biology 23(1):548. 10.1186/s12870-023-04541-z PDF
Kooverjee BB, Soma P, van der Nest MA, Scholtz MM, Neser FWC. (2023) Copy Number Variation Discovery in South African Nguni-Sired and Bonsmara-Sired Crossbred Cattle. Animals 13(15):2513. 10.3390/ani13152513
Dzomba EF, Van der Nest MA, Mthembu JNT, Soma P, Snyman MA, Chimonyo M, Muchadeyi FC. (2023) Selection signature analysis and genome-wide divergence of South African Merino breeds from their founders. Frontiers in Genetics 13:932272. 10.3389/fgene.2022.932272