Mr Matt Laubscher
Biochemistry, Genetics and Microbiology
I am currently in the first year of my PhD, doing research on transcriptional regulation of secondary cell wall (SCW) formation in Eucalyptus. I enrolled at the University of Pretoria in 2010 for a BSc degree in Human Physiology, Genetics and Psychology. In 2013 I completed my Bsc (Hons) degree in Genetics. My honours project was done under the supervision of Prof Zander Myburg in the Forest Molecular Genetics programme. I conducted Yeast two-hybrid screens on candidate transcription factors that form part of the transcriptional regulatory network of SCW formation in Eucalyptus in order to identify possible protein-protein interactions within this regulatory network. Transcription factor families in this study included candidates from the MYB family, a class two KNOX family gene, KNAT7, and members of the plant-specific family of transcription factors, namely the NAC family. This research has aided in expanding the known protein-protein interaction network of SCW biosynthesis.
My MSc research focused on the involvement of two key Eucalyptus transcription factors in secondary cell wall (SCW) regulation. We overexpressed these two transcription factors (TFs) in Arabidopsis leaf mesophyll protoplasts. Through RNA-sequencing we have confirmed that these TFs play an important role in SCW formation as important genes were up-regulated through overexpression of these TFs. Key genes, such as Cellulose synthases and other important TFs were also up-regulated by these TFs, strengthening the hypothesis of their involvement in SCW regulation. This work aided in our understanding of how the SCW is formed in the economically important tree species Eucalyptus.
In my PhD I will further explore the function of important Eucalyptus SCW candidates and how they interact with one another so that we may better understand the process of SCW regulation and wood formation in this commercially important tree species.