Applications of Plant Molecular Biology.

Topics: Plant traits are coded for by genes, Genetically modified crops in agriculture.


Responses of plants to biotic stress


Methods for Crop Genetic Modification

Application of Model Plants to Crop Biotechnology

Functional Genomics and Plant Transcriptomes




Dr. Maretha O'Kennedy, CSIR Biosciences, explaining "biolistics", a method for plant transformation using particle bombardment



Third year undergraduate class members visiting the laboratories at CSIR Biosciences


Postgraduate (Honours)


An important component of the Honours degree in the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences in the RESEARCH PROJECT (50 credits out of 160 required). The choice of which Honours course to do is usually based on the courses offered plus choice of supervisor to do the Research Project.

Honours students interested in carrying out their Research Project in the "Molecular Plant-Pathogen Interactions" group under supervision of Prof. Dave Berger have three options:

Laboratory-based Honours projects:

  • Option 1: Honours (Plant Science, specializing in Plant Physiology and Biotechnology).

    For more information on this Department of Plant Science course and to apply please go to this page

  • Option 2: Honours (Biotechnology, specializing in Plant Biotechnology)

    This is an interdepartmental course (Plant Science, Genetics, Biochemistry, Microbiology and Plant Pathology) focused on molecular Biotechnology and includes exposure to issues related to commercialization of biotechnological inventions. For a description of the course please click here.

    To apply please contact Lucille Hermann


Bioinformatics-based Honours projects:

For more information about the Bioinformatics Honours Degree at UP and how to apply please consult the Bioinformatics and Computational Biology Unit webpage Students interested in either of these three options for Honours should contact Prof Berger by email in September of their final Undergraduate year for information on Research Projects in the MPPI lab for their Honours year.



New Publications

Viljoen E, Odeny DA, Coetzee MPA, Berger DK, Rees DJG. (2018) Application of Chloroplast Phylogenomics to Resolve Species Relationships Within the Plant Genus Amaranthus. Journal of Molecular Evolution 86(3-4):216-239. 10.1007/s00239-018-9837-9
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