Ms Brittany Mitchell

MSc student


Biochemistry, Genetics and Microbiology
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My postgraduate career as a scientist began when I obtained my BSc degree in Medical Sciences at the University of Pretoria in 2012. I then joined FABI as a genetics honours student in 2013 working under Dr. Noelani van den Berg and Mr Waheed Mohammed. My honours project was my first encounter with the vastly complex avocado-Phytophthora cinnamomi interaction and was aimed at examining the regulation PR gene expression in avocado rootstocks during the initial infection stages when infected with Phytophthora cinnamomi Rands. 

After gaining an appreciation for the intricacy of the avocado defence system against this ubiquitous pathogen, I enrolled for my masters degree in Genetics in 2014. My project focuses on elucidating the key differences between tolerant and susceptible avocado rootstocks when infected with P. cinnamomi. The project is divided into two parts, the first looking at early infection morphology, progression and pathogen quantification using Scanning Electron Microscopy and qPCR while the second will entail a wide-scale molecular analysis of differential gene expression using a microarray. This project aims to shed light on the complex avocado-P. cinnamomi interaction that will be beneficial in future screening of rootstocks as well as the establishment of more effective control strategies.  I aim to complete my MSc by December 2015.