Dr Marja O'Neill

Postdoctoral Fellow


Biochemistry, Genetics and Microbiology
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FABI, and specifically the Forest Molecular Genetics (FMG) Programme at the University of Pretoria, has been my academic and professional home since 2004. As a member of the FABI Team, I have pursued my main passions in life; to solve complex puzzles and feed my insatiable need for knowledge and understanding. Currently, my interests lie in using genomics to elucidate the genetic architecture underlying genotype-by-environment interactions in forest trees. I am also beginning to explore the role of cytonuclear coordination in intra- and interspecific hybrid compatibility.

I recently completed my doctoral degree. The aim of the PhD project was to describe the population structure and patterns of genetic differentiation in the species-wide range of Eucalyptus grandis, and to compare the genetic diversity of artificially selected elite E. grandis breeding genotypes in South Africa with that of the wild progenitor populations. Also, to decipher the genomic consequences of artificial section of economic traits in exotic, cultivated environments. The project allowed close collaboration with members of the South African Forestry Industry and the establishment of large common garden experiments. These field trials will be used for applied landscape genomics; combining population genomics and ecology to predict genotype-by-site suitability.



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Candotti J, Christie N, Ployet R, Mostert-O’Neill MM, Reynolds SM, Neves LG, Naidoo S, Mizrachi E, Duong TA, Myburg AA. (2023) Haplotype mining panel for genetic dissection and breeding in Eucalyptus. The Plant Journal 113:174-185. 10.1111/tpj.16026
Wienk R, Mostert‑O’Neill M, Abeysekara N, Manosalva P, Freeman B, van den Berg N. (2022) Genetic diversity, population structure and clonal verification in South African avocado cultivars using single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) markers. Tree Genetics and Genomes 18(41) 10.1007/s11295-022-01573-8 PDF
Mostert-O'Neill MM, Reynolds SM, Acosta JJ, Lee DJ, Borevitz JO, Myburg AA. (2020) Genomic evidence of introgression and adaptation in a model subtropical tree species, Eucalyptus grandis. Molecular Ecology 00(00):1-14. 10.1111/mec.15615 PDF
Mphahlele MM, Isik F, Mostert-O'Neill MM, Reynolds SM, Hodge GR, Myburg AA. (2020) Expected benefits of genomic selection for growth and wood quality traits in Eucalyptus grandis. Tree Genetics & Genomes 16(49) 10.1007/s11295-020-01443-1
Mhoswa L, O'Neill M, Makobatjatji MM, Oates CN, Payn KG, Slippers B, Myburg AA, Naidoo S. (2020) A Genome-Wide Association Study for resistance to the insect pest Leptocybe invasa in Eucalyptus grandis reveals genomic regions and positional candidate defence genes. Plant & Cell Physiology (pcaa057) 10.1093/pcp/pcaa057
Brown K, Takawira L, O'Neill M, Mizrachi E, Myburg A, Hussey S. (2019) Identification and functional evaluation of accessible chromatin associated with wood formation in Eucalyptus grandis. New Phytologist 223(4):1937-1951. 10.1111/nph.15897