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

Thabiso E Motaung, Emma T Steenkamp. (2021) Extracellular Vesicles in Teasing Apart Complex Plant-Microbiota Links: Implications for Microbiome-Based Biotechnology. mSystems 6(4):e00734-21. 10.1128/mSystems.00734-21.
Jane Chepsergon, Thabiso E. Motaung, Lucy Novungayo Moleleki. (2021) “Core” RxLR effectors in phytopathogenic oomycetes: A promising way to breeding for durable resistance in plants?. Virulence 12(1):1921-1935. 10.1080/21505594.2021.1948277
Collins Kipngetich Tanui, Divine Yutefar Shyntum, Precious K. Sedibane, Daniel Bellieny-Rabelo, Lucy N. Moleleki. (2021) Pectobacterium brasiliense 1692 chemotactic responses and the role of methyl-accepting chemotactic proteins in ecological fitness. 12 10.3389/fpls.2021.650894 PDF
Motaung TE, Peremore C, Wingfield BD, Steenkamp ET. (2020) Plant-associated fungal biofilms – knowns and unknowns. FEMS Microbiology Ecology 10.1093/femsec/fiaa224
Teresia N. Macharia, Daniel Bellieny-Rabelo, Lucy N. Moleleki. (2020) Transcriptome Profiling of Potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) Responses to Root-Knot Nematode (Meloidogyne javanica) Infestation during A Compatible Interaction. 10.3390/microorganisms8091443