Dr Melissa Simpson

Postdoctoral Fellow


Biochemistry, Genetics and Microbiology
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I first started in FABI as a mentorship student in my second year of BSc. My mentor was a MSc student at the time, Markus Wilken, who was working on mating-type genes in Ophiostoma quercus. This was my first exposure to research. I then did my BSc Honours degree in FABI, working on the MAT1-1-1 gene of Ophiostoma quercus.

I started my MSc degree in 2010 working under the supervision of Prof Brenda Wingfield, Prof Mike Wingfield, Dr Martin Coetzee and Dr Markus Wilken. For my MSc degree I  looked at the microsatellite distribution and abundance in the genome sequence of the plant pathogen Ceratocystis fimbriata. I then chose 10 markers within gene regions to test on other species in the C. fimbriata sensu lato species complex in order to better differentiate between the cryptic species.

After completing my MSc degree, I carried on with a PhD. My focus is on the mating system of C. fimbriata. This ascomycete is homothallic (self-fertile) and can sexually reproduce by itself. Three MAT genes have previously been identified at the MAT1 locus in C. fimbriata; MAT1-1-1, MAT1-2-1, and MAT1-1-2. Sometimes the MAT1-2-1 gene is irreversibly deleted and a self-sterile isolate is produced as a result.  This phenomenon is termed unidirectional mating-type switching.

Export to RIS
Simpson MC, Wilken PM, Coetzee MPA, Wingfield MJ, Wingfield BD. (2013) Analysis of microsatellite markers in the genome of the plant pathogen Ceratocystis fimbriata. Fungal Biology 117(7-8):545-555. 10.1016/j.funbio.2013.06.004 PDF
Wingfield BD, Steenkamp ET, Santana QC, Coetzee MPA, Bam S, Barnes I, Beukes CW, Chane W-Y, de Vos L, Fourie G, Friend M, Gordon TR, Herron DA, Holt C, Korf I, Kvas M, Martin SH, Mlonyeni XO, Naidoo K, Phasha MM, Postma A, Reva O, Roos H, Simpson M, Slinski S, Slippers B, Sutherland R, van der Merwe NA, van der Nest MA, Venter SNV, Wilken PM, Yandell M, Zipfel R, Wingfield MJ. (2012) First fungal genome sequence from Africa: a preliminary analysis. South African Journal of Science 108:104-122. 10.4102/sajs.v108i1/2.537 PDF