Fabians in the Forest Molecular Genetics Programme (FMG), Prof. Zander Myburg, Drs. Sanushka Naidoo and Steven Hussey, and MSc student Matt Laubscher presented their research at the 11th International Plant Molecular Biology (IPMB) Meeting held at the spectacular location of the Iguazu Falls in Brazil, from 25-30 October 2015. This premier meeting of plant molecular biologists attracted over 1,000 participants from around the world and featured diverse sessions ranging from genomics to epigenomics, biotic and abiotic interactions to climate change, molecular breeding to plant synthetic biology. Recent breakthroughs and resources for plant biologists were showcased. The visiting Fabians engaged in networking sessions with leaders in different aspects of plant molecular biology, initiating new collaborations.


The following FABI research was presented:

  • Hussey, S. G. and Myburg, A. A. "Gene expression regulation and duplication is associated with H3K4me3 and H3K27me3 histone modifications during wood development in Eucalyptus grandis". Session: Epigenetic Reprogramming during Development.
  • Laubscher, M., Mizrachi, E., Myburg, A. A. and Hussey, S. G. "Functional analysis of Eucalyptus grandis secondary cell wall transcriptional regulators EgrNAC26 and EgrNAC61". Session: Plant Cell Wall Development and Architecture.
  • Myburg, A. A, Christie, N., Wierzbicki, M., Mbanjo, G., Calvert, M., Pinard, D., Verbeke, L., Tschlaplinkski, T. J., Tuskan, G. A., Mansfield, S. D., Marchal, K., Van de Peer, Y. and Mizrachi, E. "Beyond the Eucalyptus genome: systems genetic reveals novel woody plant growth". Session: Plant Technologies.
  • Naidoo, S., du Toit Y., Christie, N. and Myburg, A. A. "Comparative transcriptomics of Eucalyptus grandis clones under various biotic stress challenges disclose common elements of defence". Session: Biotic Stress Interactions.

Prior to the meeting, the FMG delegation visited the laboratory and greenhouse facilities of the biotechnology company FuturaGene in Itapetininga, Brazil, where they were hosted by Esteban Gonzalez, Sara El Kadri and Othon Abrahão of FuturaGene. Brazil has recently approved the first Eucalyptus GMO tree (a growth enhancing gene construct of Futuragene in an E. grandis x E. urophylla hybrid background) for commercial use.