Mr Johnathan Bredenkamp
Microbiology and Plant Pathology
My research is concerned with the important pathogen of pine, Fusarium circinatum, and the processes underpinning its biology. This pathogen, which was first discovered in the 1940s in the United States of America, has become increasingly problematic in South African nurseries and plantation establishments since its introduction there in the early 1990s. However, recent research on F. circinatum has led to the availability of various genetic resources, including genetic linkage maps, full genome sequences and phylogenetic analyses. This provides researchers with the ideal opportunity to study the genetic basis of important processes in F. circinatum, such as pathogenicity, mating, growth and morphology.
In this study, I will be using the above-mentioned resources along with a well established and efficient transformation system to functionally analyse the two sex pheromone receptor genes found in F. circinatum. This will include creating mutants and compliments for the aforementioned genes, and studying their characteristics. Interesting new research has revealed that the function of these sex pheromone receptors in Fusarium may be more diverse than initially thought, and may even play a role in pathogenicity. This study may then shed light, not only on the function of F. circinatum's sex pheromone receptor, but also on its mechanisms of pathogenicity.