Phathi Sibanda is the latest postgraduate student at FABI to complete a PhD degree in 2017. She marked the occasion by delivering her prestige seminar in front of her family, friends and colleagues on 22 March. This was followed by a successful defence of her PhD thesis in an oral exam with Dr Frederique van Gijsegem from the Department of Plant Health and Environment at the French National Institute for Agricultural Research, France, and Prof. Fanus Venter of the Department of Microbiology and Plant Pathology at the University of Pretoria as external examiners.

Phathi completed her research project under the supervision of Prof. Teresa Coutinho, Prof. Lucy Moleleki and Dr. Divine Shyntum. She summarised her research findings in her presentation titled “Functional analysis of quorum sensing in Pantoea ananatis LMG 2665T”. Pantoea ananatis is a bacterium that causes disease symptoms in economically important food crops such as maize, sorghum and pineapple as well as Eucalyptus.

Phathi discussed the quorum sensing systems of the bacterium, a process of cell-to-cell communication that involves the production, detection and response to autoinducers that is also important for understanding multi-gene expression. Quorum sensing helps prevent the expression of pathogenicity factors until bacterial cell densities are high enough for a successful infection. The study will deepen understanding about host-pathogen interactions and help in the development of measures to control infection and disease caused by the bacterium.





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Human ZR, Crous CJ, Roets F, Venter SN, Wingfield MJ, de Beer ZW. (2017) Biodiversity and ecology of flower-associated actinomycetes in different flowering stages of Protea repens. Antonie van Leeuwenhoek 10.1007/s10482-017-0942-3
McTaggart AR, Beasley DR, Wingfield MJ, Wood AR, Pretorius ZA, Drenth A, Shivas RG, Roux J. (2017) A dynamic, web-based resource to identify rust fungi (Pucciniales) in southern Africa. MycoKeys 26:77-83. 10.3897/mycokeys.26.14602
De Maayer P, Aliyu H, Vikram S, Blom J, Duffy B, Cowan DA, Smits THM, Venter SN, Coutinho TA. (2017) Phylogenomic, pan-genomic, pathogenomic and evolutionary genomic insights into the agronomically relevant enterobacteria Pantoea ananatis and Pantoea stewartii. Frontiers in Microbiology 8(1755) 10.3389/fmicb.2017.01755
Jami F, Wingfield MJ, Gryzenhout M, Slippers B. (2017) Diversity of tree-infecting Botryosphaeriales on native and non-native trees in South Africa and Namibia. Australasian Plant Pathology 10.1007/s13313-017-0516-x
Stewart JE, Ross-Davis AL, Graҫa RN, Alfenas AC, Peever TL, Hanna JW, Uchida JY, Hauff RD, Kadooka CY, Kim MS, Cannon PG, Namba S, Simeto S, Pérez CA, Rayamajhi MB, Lodge DJ, Arguedas M, Medel-Ortiz R, López-Ramirez MA, Tennant P, Glen M, Machado PS, McTaggart AR, Carnegie AJ, Klopfenstein NB, Cleary M. (2017) Genetic diversity of the myrtle rust pathogen (Austropuccinia psidii) in the Americas and Hawaii: Global implications for invasive threat assessments. Forest Pathology 10.1111/efp.12378