Ms Zinhle Annah-Gloria Nxumalo
Biochemistry, Genetics and Microbiology
I graduated from Witwatersrand University with a bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences and a Higher Diploma in Computer Science. Thereafter, I obtained my BSc. Honors in Crop Sciences at the University of Pretoria, my research project focused on the microbiome of mango fruits from production to consumption. This study was aimed at bridging the knowledge gap on the composition (surface and stem-end) of mango microbiome and how its dynamics are affected during the pre- and post-harvest stages of production and how this influences the occurrence of pathogens on the fruit. I am currently conducting research for a MSc. degree in Microbiology.
My MSc research focuses on "the diversity and evolution of terpene synthase genes in Ascomycetes". Terpene synthase (TPS) genes encode for terpene synthase enzymes, which are key enzymes for the biosynthesis of the largest and most structurally diverse class metabolites of natural compounds called terpene ( C10 mono-, C15 sesqui-, C20 di-, C25 sester-, C30 tri-, and mixed terpene groups) which are of varying lengths. Furthermore, these compounds play a number of significant roles in defence, development and communication pathways of fungi, bacteria, plants and animals. However majority of studies have focused on TPS genes from plants, and very limited studies on those in fungi and thereby creating a huge knowledge gap. Therefore, the aim of the project is to identify terpene synthase genes in Ascomycota genera. Then determine the evolution of the different TPS genes in Ascomycetes, to understand how the genes have evolved. In the end determine if there is any correlation between the lifestyle of the species and the TPS genes they harbor.