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Postdoctoral Fellow

Department

Plant Sciences
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Research Profiles

I am a Post-Doctoral Researcher in Prof. Dave Berger’s Molecular Plant Pathogen Interactions (MPPI) group since June 2012 and am currently working on a project entitled “Genomics of Quantitative Disease Resistance in African Maize Varieties”.  My role involves high resolution genetic mapping using high density SNP markers coupled with gene expression profiling to explore the molecular basis of quantitative resistance to a fungal foliar pathogen in germplasm adapted to African conditions.
Furthermore, I am also involved in other aspects of the project by performing SSR and SNP marker screens to assist in a backcross breeding programme overseen by our industry partner, PANNAR SEED Pty (Ltd).

I hold a PhD in Molecular and Cell Biology from the University of Cape Town under supervision of Assoc. Prof. Katherine Denby which focussed on the defence-related mechanisms of a disease resistance mutant (cir1) in Arabidopsis thaliana.  Prior to that I studied at the Institute for Wine Biotechnology, Stellenbosch University where I obtained a MSc Agric (cum laude) supervised by Prof. Melané Vivier.  My MSc Agric project investigated Saccharomyces cerevisiae chitinase, encoded by the CTS1-2 gene, as an antifungal and biocontrol agent.  I completed a BSc Agric degree majoring in Biochemistry and Microbiology at Stellenbosch University.

Previous to this position, I worked as a Research Associate at Imperial College London in the National Heart and Lung Institute where my project involved an RNAi screen to identify GTPases and actin regulators involved in uptake of Mycobacterium bovis BCG by human macrophages.

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Publication
Berger DK, Carstens M, Korsman JN, Middleton F, Kloppers FJ, Tongoona P, Myburg AA. (2014) Mapping QTL conferring resistance in maize to gray leaf spot disease caused by Cercospora zeina. BMC Genetics 15:60. 10.1186/1471-2156-15-60
Carstens M, McCrindle TK, Adams N, Diener A, Guzha DT, Murray SL, Parker JE, Denby KJ, Ingle RA. (2014) Increased Resistance to Biotrophic Pathogens in the Arabidopsis Constitutive Induced Resistance 1 Mutant Is EDS1 and PAD4-Dependent and Modulated by Environmental Temperature. PLoS ONE 9:e109853. 10.1371/journal.pone.0109853
Nola S, Daigaku R, Smolarczyk K, Carstens M, Martin-Martin B, Longmore G, Bailly M, Braga VMM. (2011) Ajuba is required for Rac activation and maintenance of E-cadherin adhesion. The Journal of Cell Biology 195(5):855-871. PDF
Ingle RA, Carstens M, Denby KJ. (2006) PAMP recognition and the plant–pathogen arms race. BioEssays 28(9):880-889. PDF
Carstens M, Vivier MA, Pretorius IS. (2003) The Saccharomyces cerevisiae chitinase, encoded by the CTS1-2 gene, confers antifungal activity against Botrytis cinerea to transgenic tobacco. Transgenic Research 12(4):497-508. PDF
Carstens M, Vivier MA, Van Rensburg P, Pretorius IS. (2003) Overexpression, secretion and antifungal activity of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae chitinase. Annals of Microbiology 53:15-28.