The bacterial genomics and host pathogen interactions group is based at the University of Pretoria Department of Microbiology and Plant Pathology under the leadership of Dr Lucy Moleleki. Potato is an economically important crop plant contributing significantly to the South African economy. Pests and pathogens contribute significantly to annual production losses. Currently, the research group focuses on the Soft Rot Enterobacteriaceae and Root Knot Nematodes (Meloidogyne spp) of potatoes. To increase productivity, accurate identification of these pathogens is essential hence one of the focus areas of the research is molecular identification of potato pathogens. Pathogens overcome host defences by interfering with various host surveillance system. Hence, we endeavour to use genomics and transcriptomics to identify bacterial virulence factors as well as elucidate host defence mechanisms being targeted by these virulence factors.

Completed and Current project

Root Knot Nematodes

We recently completed a survery of root knot nematode species infecting potato plants in different growing regions across South Africa. In this survey the genetic diversity of the different Meloidogyne spp was profiled. Future studies will focus on understanding interactions of Meloidogyne spp and other potato pathogens as well as host plant potato.

Soft Rot Pathogens

We are currently using a variety of functional and comparative genomic tools to study the interaction of Pectobacterium spp in host plant potato during colonisation in a susceptible vs resistant host.

Group Leader: Dr Lucy Moleleki

New Publications

Shin G, Schacterle JK, Shyntum DY, Moleleki LN, Coutinho T, Sundin GW. (2019) Functional characterization of a global virulence regulator Hfq and identification of Hfq-dependent sRNAs in the plant pathogen Pantoea ananatis. Frontiers in Microbiology 10:1-19. 10.3389/fmicb.2019.02075
Shutt VM, Shin G, van der Waals JE, Goszczynska T, Coutinho T. (2018) Characterization of Ralstonia strains infecting tomato plants in South Africa. Crop Protection 112:56-62. 10.1016/j.cropro.2018.05.013
Siphathele Sibanda, Stanford Kwenda, Collins K. Tanui, Divine Shyntum, Teresa Coutinho, Lucy Moleleki. (2018) Transcriptome profiling reveals the EanI/R quorum sensing regulon in Pantoea ananatis LMG 2665T. Genes 9(3):148. 10.3390/genes9030148
Siphathele Sibanda, Lucy Moleleki, Divine Shyntum, Teresa Coutinho. 2018. Quorum Sensing in Gram-Negative Plant Pathogenic Bacteria. In: Advances in Plant Pathology. Intechopen., London SE1 9SG, United Kingdom, pp 67-89.
Tanui CK, Shyntum DY, Priem SL, Theron J, Moleleki LN. (2017) Influence of the ferric uptake regulator (Fur) protein on pathogenicity in Pectobacterium carotovorum subsp. brasiliense. Plos One 5(12) 10.1371/journal.pone.0177647