Ms Daniella van der Walt



Biochemistry, Genetics and Microbiology
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I am currently working as an intern for Prof. Mike Wingfield and Dr Seonju Marincowitz after recently completing my MSc in Genetics titled: "Characterization of hybridization events between three closely related species of Ceratocystis."

Hybridization, crucial for evolution and genome adaptation, is particularly significant in understanding plant pathogen emergence, potentially leading to highly destructive species surpassing parental strains. Self-fertile species in the family Ceratocystis were used as a model for fungal hybridization where a novel protocol to discern self-fertilization from outcrossing was developed. Evidence of biparental mitochondrial inheritance was noted, suggesting avenues for future research. Analysis of hybrid genomes revealed segregation distortion and genome mosaicism in hybrid genomes, contributing to understanding fungal hybridization dynamics. This work was supervised by Dr. Markus Wilken, Prof Emma Steenkamp and Prof Brenda Wingfield.

I did my Honours degree in Microbiology under the supervision of Dr Markus Wilken and I worked on the genetics behind the sexual reproductive strategy observed in the filamentous ascomycete, Thielaviopsis cerberus. This homothallic fungus was found to undergo unidirectional mating-type switching when the mating-type locus was characterised and analysed.

The work I am currently doing for Mike and Seonju is on the identification of fungal isolates within the Ophiostomatales group through Sanger sequencing. I use DNA extraction and Sanger sequencing to accurately characterize these fungi that come from different parts of the world.


FABI opens its doors for undergraduate students to “meet the scientists”

The CTHB Outreach Team at FABI hosted “Meet the scientists” information sessions for undergraduate students at the University of Pretoria on 26 and 27 February.

CTHB welcomes 20 students into its Mentorship Programme

Twenty undergraduate students will gain hands-on scientific research experience as mentees in the CTHB Mentorship Programme.

Data Jamboree at FABI

The Tree Protection Co-operative Programme (TPCP) in FABI hosted a “Data Jamboree” on 7 February that saw 44 students in the research programme spend the day capturing historical data from the disease clinic.

Tree Planting goes on despite wet conditions

Forty eight students from the Tree Protection Co-operative Programme (TPCP) in FABI braved cool, wet and muddy conditions on the morning of 24 January to replant 1,500 seedlings into potting bags.

FABIans celebrate the end of a fruitful year at the Institute’s year-end function and awards ceremony

FABI Director Prof. Guests included Vice-Principal for Research and Postgraduate Education at UP Prof. In his address, Prof. Dr Irene Barnes presented a number of awards on the night, with the premium award, FABIan of the Year going to PhD student Stephanie van Wyk. In the new category, Best Postdoctoral Fellow, two awards were given to Dr Marc Bouwer and Dr Victoria Maloney. For their creativity,Prof. Prof.

Export to RIS
van der Walt D, Steenkamp ET, Wingfield BD, Wilken PM. (2023) Evidence of Biparental Mitochondrial Inheritance from Self-Fertile Crosses between Closely Related Species of Ceratocystis. Journal of Fungi 9(6):686. 10.3390/jof9060686 PDF
Krämer D, Lane FA, Steenkamp ET, Wingfield BD, Wilken PM. (2021) Unidirectional mating-type switching confers self-fertility to Thielaviopsis cerberus, the only homothallic species in the genus. Fungal Biology 10.1016/j.funbio.2020.12.007