Ms Sithembile Kunene

PhD student


Plant and Soil Sciences
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Research Profiles

Primary Supervisor
Thabiso Motaung

Co Supervisor
Emma Steenkamp

I completed my BSc honours in agronomy at the University of Zululand and MSc in Crop Science at the University of KwaZulu Natal. I am a PhD candidate in plant biotechnology under the supervision of Dr Thabiso Motaung.

My research focuses on characterization of extracellular vesicles (EVs) from the genus Pinus. EVs have emerged as a potential class of functional molecules in recent years, sparking new applications as therapeutic carriers released by cells from all kingdoms of life. The overarching theme of my project is to explore the unappreciated carrier effects of these vesicles in pine species grown in South Africa (e.g., P. patula, P. radiate, and pine hybrids) that assist the transfer of bioactive plant-beneficial compounds including antivirulence proteins, secondary metabolites, and nucleic acids, to targeted cells. Therefore, this research will significantly improve our existing understanding of pine biology in its various interactive states as they relate to its natural and or nursery contexts. A range of bioactive compounds that are found in the lumen of Pinus EVs will be revealed and their role in mediating interaction between species in Pinus assessed using Fusarium circinatum as a model pine fungal pathogen. 


Characterization of extracellular vesicles (EVs) from Pinus species


Students attend the 33rd SANSOR Congress

Several FABI students attended the recent 33rd SANSOR Congress in Cape Town.

Export to RIS
Kunene S, Steenkamp E, Motaung T. (2023) Isolation of extracellular vesicles from pine (Pinus sp.) leaves and roots. RsearchSquare 00(00):00-00. 10.21203/
Sithembile Kunene, Alfred Oduor Odindo, Abe Shegro Gerrano, Takudzwa Mandizvo. (2022) Screening Bambara Groundnut (Vigna subterranea L. Verdc) Genotypes for Drought Tolerance at the Germination Stage under Simulated Drought Conditions. Plants 11(24):3562. 10.3390/plants11243562