Ms Teresia Nyambura Macharia
I am currently doing my Masters in Microbiology under the supervision of Prof Lucy Moleleki. My research project focuses on root knot nematodes, Meloidogyne spp which have been identified as most damaging pest of potatoes in South Africa. They cause significant losses in terms of yield reduction and quality resulting to unmarketable tubers. The main option for managing the root knot nematodes has been the use of synthetic nematicides but their usage is now being revoked due to the environmental risks, human health, availability and cost. These significant drawbacks along with raising social awareness on health concerns and ecological hazards of synthetic pesticides have emphasized the need for search of other safer alternative methods. Use of resistant/ tolerant cultivars is one of the alternative approaches that can be used in the control of the Root Knot Nematodes.
Therefore, my MSc research will focus on screening of resistant cultivars against root knot nematodes. Various wild potato and other potato genotypes that have shown resistance to other root knot nematodes species will be evaluated against the tropical root knot nematode species. The commercially grown South Africa potato cultivars will also be screened and ranked for resistance. The study will also focus on differential gene analysis that will aim on understanding the responses of a resistant and susceptible potato cultivar. Identification of either a tolerant or a resistant cultivar to one of the dominant tropical root knot nematode will allow most growers to make well informed decision on which cultivars to grow in their specific regions.