Ms Mary Ranketse
Most commercial macadamia cultivars are hybrids derived from two species, M. integrifolia and M. tetraphylla. One cultivar however is a tri-hybrid comprising of M. integrifolia, M. tetraphylla and M. ternifolia. Macadamia cultivars grown in South Africa originate from Australia and Hawaii, however, selection has led to genetically diverse cultivars within South Africa.
My PhD study focuses on understanding the population dynamics of South African cultivars using microsatellite markers and whole genome resequencing. We also aim to perform De novo assembly of Macadamia tetraphylla and Beaumont cultivar genomes and transcriptomes using a hybrid sequencing approach. The study has potential applications in genetic fingerprinting, purity testing and germplasm protection. Furthermore, this study aims to identify candidate functional genetic markers underlying agronomic traits for use in marker-assisted breeding programmes.