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MSc student

Department

Genetics
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Primary Supervisor
Sanushka Naidoo

Co Supervisor
Dr. Nanette Christie


After completing my BSc Honors Genetics Degree in 2014, I joined EPPI, the Eucalyptus and Pine Pathogen Interactions team, within the Forestry and Molecular Genetics (FMG) research group. At the beginning of 2015, I started my MSc Bioinformatics degree, where I have the role of performing comparative studies between three plant pathogen/pest interactions. These three, well established, pathosystems involve the interaction between Eucalyptus spp. and  Chrysoporthe austroafricana (cause of stem cankers), Leptocybe invasa (a gall wasp) and Phytophthora cinnamomi (cause of root rot and stem cankers). Gene and transcript datasets have been produced for these three interactions and I will be adding them to the growing repertoire of data we host on the Eucalyptus Genome Intergrative Explorer (EucGenIE: www.eucgenie.org). I am also responsible for the development of several research tools for EucGenIE which will involve clustering analysis for genes and transcripts, functional annotation via tools such as GSEA/PSEA (Gene/Pathway Set Enrichment Analysis). I will perform a functional analysis, by first defining gene and pathway function and then finding the overrepresented functions within the clusters produced.  Novel insights will be generated for Eucalyptus defence for the first time, by using comparative analysis to ascertain the common and unique defense responses to an insect pest, an oomycete and a fungal pathogen. This project will contribute to our knowledge of why certain genotypes are resistant and others are susceptible to pathogen and pest attack. Which defence genes and transcripts are in common amoung the pathosystems and could be a potential target for added resistance and defence using biotechnology applications?