Dr Robert Backer

Postdoctoral Fellow


Biochemistry, Genetics and Microbiology
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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. Our work has already identified interesting differences between partially resistant and susceptible rootstock cultivars. It is our hope that understanding the role of NPR1 and related pathways in avocado will assist in the development of novel P. cinnamomi control strategies.

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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. 10.1371/journal.pone.0254645 PDF
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. 10.3389/fpls.2021.636339
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. 10.3389/fpls.2019.00102
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. 10.3389/fpls.2015.00300