Principal Investigator: Prof Dave Berger

Current team members at UP: Dr Boney Kuriakose, Dr Sonia Phillips , Dr Maryke Carstens, Jeanne Korsman, Nanette Coetzer, Adri Veale, Grieta Mahlangu, Monique Heystek, Thomas Schmidt, Ncobile Kunene, Irene Schoeman.

The project aims to identify genes and molecular markers linked to quantitative resistance to grey leaf spot disease in African maize varieties. The innovation is to combine classical quantitative genetic analysis, genetic mapping and global gene expression profiling. The power of including expression profiling using oligonucleotide microarrays is that it facilitates the identification of genes contributing to QTL for GLS resistance. Candidate genes and/or tightly linked molecular markers will be of enormous value to maize breeders for use in marker assisted selection of resistance traits. This project combines the skills of a number of experts in South Africa, and is one of the first expression QTL projects in the country. Establishing capacity in this technique will enable future work on additional favourable traits in crops for which global gene expression data are available.


Cercospora zeina cultures with emphasis on the conidiophores and conidia


Maize eQTL project team





MeQTL project field trip


Standing L - R: Felix Middelton (PANNAR), Monique Heystek (UP), Thomas Schmidt (UP), Mischa Muller (UP), Dave Berger (UP), Hlandiwe Gumede (UKZN ACCI)

Seated L - R: Shane Murray (CPGR), Bridget Crampton (UP)



  • Korsman J, Meisel B, Kloppers FJ, Crampton BG and Berger DK (2012) Quantitative phenotyping of grey leaf spot disease in maize using real-time PCR. European Journal of Plant Pathology, 133(2) 461-471

  • Coetzer N, Myburg AA & D K Berger (2011) Maize Microarray Annotation Database. Plant Methods 7:31.

  • Meisel B, Korsman J, Kloppers FJ and Berger DK (2009) Cercospora zeina is the causal agent of grey leaf spot disease of maize in southern Africa. European Journal of Plant Pathology, 124 (4) 577-583.


New Publications

Liversage J, Coetzee MPA, Bluhm BH, Berger DK, Crampton BG. (2018) LOVe across kingdoms: Blue light perception vital for growth and development in plant–fungal interactions. Fungal Biology Reviews 10.1016/j.fbr.2017.11.003
Wingfield BD, Berger DK, Steenkamp ET, Lim H-J, Duong TA, Bluhm BH, De Beer ZW, De Vos L, Fourie G, Naidoo K, Olivier NA, Lin Y, Van der Peer Y, Joubert F, Crampton BG, Swart V, Soal N, Tatham C, Van der Nest MA, Van der Merwe NA, Van Wyk S, Wilken PM, Wingfield MJ. (2017) IMA Genome-F 8 Draft genome of Cercospora zeina, Fusarium pininemorale, Hawksworthiomyces lignivorus, Huntiella decipiens and Ophiostoma ips. IMA Fungus 8 (2):385‑396. 10.5598/imafungus.2017.08.02.10
Meyer J, Berger DK, Christensen SA, Murray SL. (2017) RNA-Seq analysis of resistant and susceptible sub-tropical maize lines reveals a role for kauralexins in resistance to grey leaf spot disease, caused by Cercospora zeina. BMC Plant Biology 17:197. 10.1186/s12870-017-1137-9
Amuge T, Berger DK, Katari MS, Myburg AA, Goldman SL, Ferguson ME. (2017) A time series transcriptome analysis of cassava (Manihot esculenta Crantz) varieties challenged with Ugandan cassava brown streak virus. Scientific Reports 7:9747. 10.1038/s41598-017-09617-z
Swart V, Crampton BG, Ridenour JB, Bluhm BH, Olivier NA, Meyer JJM, Berger DK. (2017) Complementation of CTB7 in the maize pathogen Cercospora zeina overcomes the lack of in vitro cercosporin production. Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions 30(9):710-724. 10.1094/MPMI-03-17-0054-R