Dr Robert Backer
Biochemistry, Genetics and Microbiology
I first came to FABI in 2012. I am currently registered as a Postdoctoral Fellow under the supervision of Prof. Noëlani van den Berg in the Avocado Research Programme (ARP). The molecular basis of Persea americana (avocado) resistance to Phytophthora cinnamomi is poorly understood, thus my work focuses on the NONEXPRESSOR OF PATHOGENESIS-RELATED GENES 1 (NPR1) gene family in avocado. Since 2020 I have also been responsible for bioinformatics analyses within the ARP – to enrich my work on NPR1 and to aid in student projects – including dual RNA-sequencing analyses and genome sequencing. Our work has already identified interesting differences between partially resistant and susceptible rootstock cultivars - from the perspective of both the pathogen and avocado. It is our hope that by identifying and understanding the molecular pathways in avocado responsible for defence and stress responses that we will assist in the development of novel P. cinnamomi control strategies.
My Journal Articles
|Backer R, Engelbrecht J, van den Berg N. (2022) Differing Responses to Phytophthora cinnamomi Infection in Susceptible and Partially Resistant Persea americana (Mill.) Rootstocks: A Case for the Role of Receptor-Like Kinases and Apoplastic Proteases. Frontiers in Plant Science 13
|Miyambo TM, Backer R, Engelbrecht J, Joubert F, van der Merwe NA, van den Berg N. (2022) The Identification and Characterization of Endopolygalacturonases in a South African Isolate of Phytophthora cinnamomi. Microorganisms 10(1061)
|Fick A, Swart V, Backer R, Bombarely A, Engelbrecht J, van den Berg N. (2022) Partially Resistant Avocado Rootstock Dusa® Shows Prolonged Upregulation of Nucleotide Binding-Leucine Rich Repeat Genes in Response to Phytophthora cinnamomi Infection. Frontiers in Plant Science 13:793644.
|Joubert M, Backer R, Engelbrecht J, Van den Berg N. (2021) Expression of several Phytophthora cinnamomi putative RxLRs provides evidence for virulence roles in avocado. PLoS ONE 16(7):e0254645.
|Van den Berg N, Swart V, Backer R, Fick A, Wienk R, Engelbrecht J, Prabhu S. (2021) Advances in understanding defense mechanisms in Persea americana against Phytophthora cinnamomi. Frontiers in Plant Science 12:123.
|Backer R, Naidoo S, van den Berg N. (2019) The NONEXPRESSOR OF PATHOGENESIS-RELATED GENES 1 (NPR1) and Related Family: Mechanistic Insights in Plant Disease Resistance. Frontiers in Plant Science 10:102.
|Backer R, Mahomed W, Reeksting B, Engelbrecht J, Ibarra-Laclette E, van den Berg N. (2015) Phylogenetic and expression analysis of the NPR1-like gene family from Persea americana (Mill.). Frontiers in Plant Science 6:300.