Mr Sikelela Buthelezi
Biochemistry, Genetics and Microbiology
I am currently doing PhD in Genetic at the university of Pretoria under the supervision of Dr Markus Wilken. My study focuses on Genetics and genomics of South African isolates of the agricultural pathogen Sclerotinia sclerotiorum.
Our project aims to establish a South African-specific genomic resource for studies on S. sclerotiorum. The availability of a high-quality draft genome from a South African isolate of the species will prove invaluable for expanding our current understanding of the pathogen in a local context. It would allow us to design genetic markers catered specifically to the South African population and target suitable regions for developing diagnostic tools, while at the same time providing insight into the evolutionary history of the pathogen in the country. With the genome information, we will also be able to study the reproductive strategy used by South African populations of the pathogen. Insights gained from these studies will not only add to the growing debate around the population genetics structure of the fungus, but also contribute meaningfully in efforts aimed at combating this important pathogen in the field.
Twenty undergraduate students will gain hands-on scientific research experience as mentees in the CTHB Mentorship Programme.