Mr Philani Dlamini
Agricultural Research Council
Mr Philani Justice Dlamini completed his MSc Plant Science at the University of Zululand, Empangeni. His MSc was an inter-disciplinary study, which utilized mutation breeding to induce mutations in sugarcane callus using ethyl methanesulfonate. Six mutant lines were selected in his study and the biochemical and physiological responses of the selected lines were further characterised. These included analysis of the cell wall remodelling, proline accumulation, hydrogen peroxide activity and protein analysis under osmotic stress. Philani has also completed several short courses including, Inspection and Quarantine of Agricultural products that was organized by the AQSIQ, People’s Republic of China and Drones for Agriculture course organized by the Wageningen University & Research, Netherland.
Philani has further completed two internship training with Sensako PTY and the Agricultural Research Council, respectively. In Sensako PTY, Philani gained experience in developing conventional breeding trials to improved yield, biotic and abiotic stress tolerance in wheat cultivars. Conducting plant pathology trials to test the susceptibility of newly developed wheat hybrids to different pathogens. At the ARC, he has gained experience in plant gDNA extraction, running polymerase chain reaction (PCR), optimizing tissue culture protocols in banana and micropropagation of Ornithogalum and grapevine. He has further gained experience in using various bioinformatics programs such as CLC Genomics workbench, Benchling and CRISPR guide design. Some of the work he has conducted so far includes identifying allelic variation in target banana genes using RNA Seq data, design of CRISPR/Cas9 guide RNA targeting these genes and construction of CRISPR/Cas9 T-DNA vectors to knockout the target genes.
His PhD research work focuses on studying the involvement of Kinesin 5 related protein (KRP5), Kinesin-5 like (KL5) and kinesin motor domain-containing protein (KIFC3) in facilitating the Banana bunchy top virus (BBTV) in the banana plant. A transcriptomic study conducted at the ARC laboratories using RNA-Seq suggested the involvement of these kinesis genes in banana-BBTV interactions. CRISPR/Cas9 will be utilized to knockout candidate BBTV susceptibility genes in banana to functionally characterise their role in banana-BBTV interactions. Multiple susceptibility genes whose knockout leads to BBTV resistance will be knocked out in a single line in a pyramiding approach to produce durable BBTV resistance. Philani is under the supervision of Dr Thabiso Motaung (University of Pretoria), in collaboration with the Agricultural Research Council, Plant Protection Research Institute, under the guidance of Dr Tendekai Mahlanza and Inge Gazendam (Agricultural Research Council, Vegetable Industrial and Medicinal Plants).