Ms Brigitte Langenhoven
My research interests are in understanding plant-pathogen interactions in African farming systems. One of the major factors negatively influencing crop production in Africa is destructive fungal diseases that only contribute to the increasing food scarcity in African nations. General disease management strategies include fungicides, resistant hybrids, and tillage practices. But these are not cost effective for small-holder farmers in Africa. There is therefore a need to gain more insight into the molecular processes underlying plant-pathogen interactions to ultimately develop sustainable management strategies. In this regard I recently completed my MSc which focussed on the identification and in planta expression analysis of three effector genes in Cercospora zeina, a maize foliar pathogen causing grey leaf spot in maize in South Africa. My PhD study builds on this knowledge and aims to unravel the Exserohilum turcicum-sorghum pathosystem. The project will apply genome sequencing of a sorghum-E. turcicum strain as well as in planta transcriptome profiling of E. turcicum to identify genes involved in causing disease in sorghum. At the same time, we hope to also identify and characterise sorghum genes involved in resistance to E. turcicum.