Ms Melissa Joubert

PhD student


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Primary Supervisor
Velushka Swart
Velushka Swart

Co Supervisor
Noelani van den Berg

I am a doctoral candidate in the field of Microbiology, and I have been a member of FABI since 2016. I am currently part of the Hans Merensky Chair in Avocado Research (previously the Avocado Research Programme), studying under the supervision of Dr. Velushka Swart and Professor Noëlani van den Berg.

I received my Master's degree in Microbiology in 2020, as a member of the same research group. My MSc. thesis was entitled "Identification and manual annotation of RxLR effector genes in Phytophthora cinnamomi". This research project was focused on identifying candidate RxLR effector genes from the P. cinnamomi genome, and specifically analysed those genes which were expressed during avocado infection. The results of this study highlighted several candidate RxLRs with putative virulence roles during infection of a susceptible avocado rootstock, paving the way for further research into these notable molecular weapons used by P. cinnamomi.

Currently I am working on my PhD. project entitled "Investigating molecular mechanisms for disease caused by avocado sunblotch viroid (ASBVd)". This study aims to determine putative molecular mechanisms used by ASBVd to infect avocado trees. We are looking into ways that the viroid causes symptoms (and ultimately, disease) in avocado fruiting cultivars by investigating host responses to ASBVd infection.

Conference Presentations

  • Joubert M., van den Berg N., Theron J., Swart V. Avocado sunblotch viroid: the smallest avocado pathogen causing big changes in host gene expression. Poster presentation at the 12th International Congress of Plant Pathology; 20-25 August 2023, Lyon, France.

  • Joubert, M., van den Berg, N., Theron, J., and Swart, V. "Unravelling infection by Avocado Sunblotch Viroid". Poster presentation at the 52nd Congress of the Southern African Society for Plant Pathology; 1-3 August 2022, Pretoria, South Africa.

  • Joubert, M., and Van den Berg, N. "Discovery of Phytophthora cinnamomi RxLR effector genes expressed during Avocado infection". Poster presentation at the 51st Congress of the Southern African Society for Plant Pathology; 21-23 January 2019, Langebaan, South Africa.

  • Backer, R., Joubert, M., and Van den Berg, N. "Developing a novel pathosystem for the molecular study of Phytophthora cinnamomi using Nicotiana benthamiana". Poster presentation at the 4th Joint Congress of the South African Society for Bioinformatics and the South African Genetics Society; 20-23 September 2016, Durban, South Africa.

Export to RIS
Joubert M, van den Berg N, Theron J, Swart V. (2024) Global transcriptomic analysis in avocado nursery trees reveals differential gene expression during asymptomatic infection by avocado sunblotch viroid (ASBVd). Virus Research 339:199263. 10.1016/j.virusres.2023.199263. PDF
Joubert M, van den Berg N, Theron J, Swart V. (2022) Transcriptomics Advancement in the Complex Response of Plants to Viroid Infection. International Journal of Molecular Sciences 23(7677) 10.3390/ijms23147677 PDF
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