Ms Katlego Masike
Plant diseases are a major limiting factor in agricultural practices worldwide, causing significant crop losses thus affecting global food security and economic stability. About 70% of these diseases are caused by plant pathogenic fungi (PPF), including Cercospora species. In an attempt to manage these PPF, numerous strategies have been implemented however more efficient strategies are yet to be established. My MSc research focuses on investigating Host Induced Gene Silencing (HIGS) as a tool to manage Cercospora species such as Cercospora zeina, a causal pathogen of one of the most yield-limiting diseases, grey leaf spot (GLS) disease. This is a maize disease which causes over 65% annual yield losses in developing countries. As a proof of concept, model N. tabacum and N. benthamiana plants were used to investigate the control of necrophytic Cercospora nicotianae.
I completed My BSc (Hons) in Biotechnology, at the University of Pretoria, under the Biotechnology department collaborating with the phyto-medicine department. My research focused on the establishment of a tissue culture protocol specific to three Erythroxylum species indigenous to Southern Africa. These 3 tree species are closely related to the cocaine producing E. coca plant. Cocaine is a local anesthetic, analgesic and central nervous stimulant, previously used in eye and nasal surgical procedures however it is notorious for its addictive and destructive properties. My study focused on elucidating the presence of the cocaine bio-synthetic pathway & cocaine precursor compounds that exhibit the same medical properties without the addictive properties as well as establishing a propagation protocol for each plant.
I completed my BSc in Biotechnology Management at Person Institute of Higher Education in Midrand. This was a double major degree, majoring in Plant Genetics and Business management.
I am extremely interested in youth development programs. This allows me to use my Business
management qualifications while empowering the youth. I am particularly involved in an “out of the
classroom learning” program where the youth are equipped with skills outside the scope of their
particular degree studies and expertise. I intend on furthering this interest and qualifications with a
Masters in Business Leadership.