Dr Bianca Reeksting

Postdoctoral Fellow


Biochemistry, Genetics and Microbiology
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Avocado is a commercially important fruit crop, with South Africa contributing significantly to international export. This fruit crop is threatened by numerous biotic and abiotic stresses. Phytophthora root rot, caused by the oomycete Phytophthora cinnamomi, is the greatest biotic threat to avocado worldwide. This pathogen results in the feeder roots of trees becoming brittle and black, leading to branch-dieback and eventual tree death. In addition, PRR is exacerbated under moist soil conditions, with over-irrigation and heavy rainfalls leading to waterlogging. Under these conditions the trees succumb much more quickly to disease, resulting in large losses for industry. In addition, avocado is one of the fruit crops most susceptible to flooding, even in the absence of P. cinnamomi. The focus of my research is to investigate the mechanisms related to the response of avocado to flooding. This is done from both a physiological perspective, studying gas exchange and chlorophyll fluorescence, as well as on a molecular level, using large scale gene expression and proteomics.

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Reeksting B, Olivier N.A, van den Berg N. (2016) Transcriptome responses of an ungrafted Phytophthora root rot tolerant avocado (Persea americana) rootstock to flooding and Phytophthora cinnamomi. BMC Plant Biology 16(205) 10.1186/s12870-016-0893-2
Backer R, Mahomed W, Reeksting B, Engelbrecht J, Ibarra-Laclette E, van den Berg N. (2015) Phylogenetic and expression analysis of the NPR1-like gene family from Persea americana (Mill.). Frontiers in Plant Science 6:300. 10.3389/fpls.2015.00300
Reeksting BJ, Coetzer N, Mahomed W, Engelbrecht J, van den Berg N. (2014) De novo sequencing, assembly, and analysis of the root transcriptome of Persea americana (Mill.) in response to Phytophthora cinnamomi and flooding. PLoS ONE 9(2):e86399. 10.1371/journal.pone.0086399 PDF
Reeksting BJ, Taylor N, van den Berg N. (2014) Flooding and Phytophthora cinnamomi: Effects on photosynthesis and chlorophyll fluorescence in shoots of non-grafted Persea americana (Mill.) rootstocks differing in tolerance to Phytophthora root rot. South African Journal of Botany 95:40-53. 10.1016/j.sajb.2014.08.004 PDF