The Forest Molecular Genetics (FMG) Programme, headed by Prof Zander Myburg, is based at the University of Pretoria's Department of Genetics and is affiliated with the Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute (FABI). Our research focuses on the genetic control of wood development in fast-growing plantation trees, primarily Eucalyptus and tropical pines grown in South Africa. We utilise a number of research and technology platforms, namely: tree genomics; high-throughput DNA marker analysis; functional genetics; as well as wood pheno­typing. We work in close collaboration with South African forestry companies, such as Sappi and Mondi, to develop capacity and resources for the application of tree biotechnology in operational tree improvement programmes. This research is supported by grants from the National Research Foundation (NRF), the Tech­nology and Human capacity for Industry Programme (THRIP) and the Department of Science and Technology (DST) of South Africa.

Current projects include:

  1. Population Genomics - Genomic mapping of growth and wood quality traits in Eucalyptus hybrids, genome-wide SNP marker discovery and genotyping in Eucalyptus, and system genetics analysis of cellulose and xylan biosynthesis in Eucalyptus;
  2. Functional Genomics - Carbohydrate active enzyme (CAZyme) genes involved in wood formation in Eucalyptus, and transcriptome-wide prediction of xylem proteome variation in Eucalyptus;
  3. Functional Genetics - Functional analysis of secondary cell wall (SCW) transcriptional network in Eucalyptus, and functional genetics of the SCW related proteins of unknown function.


FMG Brochure 2015 Edition


New Publications

Hussey SG, Grima-Pettenati J, Myburg AA, Mizrachi E, Brady SM, Yoshikuni Y, Deutsch S. (2019) A standardized synthetic Eucalyptus transcription factor and promoter panel for re-engineering secondary cell wall regulation in biomass and bioenergy crops. ACS Synthetic Biology 10.1021/acssynbio.8b00440
McTaggart AR, Duong TA, Le VQ, Shuey LS, Smidt W, Naidoo S, Wingfield MJ, Wingfield BD. (2018) Chromium sequencing: the doors open for genomics of obligate plant pathogens. BioTechniques 65(5):253-257. 10.2144/btn-2018-0019
Laubscher M, Brown K, Tonfack LB, Myburg AA, Mizrachi E, Hussey SG. (2018) Temporal analysis of Arabidopsis genes activated by Eucalyptus grandis NAC transcription factors associated with xylem fibre and vessel development. Scientific Reports 8:10983. 10.1038/s41598-018-29278-w
Naidoo S, Christie N, Acosta JJ, Mphahlele MM, Payn KG, Myburg AA, Külheim C. (2018) Terpenes associated with resistance against the gall wasp, Leptocybe invasa, in Eucalyptus grandis. Plant, Cell & Environment 41(8):1840-1851. 10.1111/pce.13323
Pinard D, Mizrachi E. (2018) Unsung and understudied: plastids involved in secondary growth. Current Opinion in Plant Biology 42:30-36. 10.1016/j.pbi.2018.01.011
McTaggart AR, Shuey LS, Granados GM, du Plessis E, Fraser S, Barnes I, Naidoo S, Wingfield MJ, Roux J. (2018) Evidence that Austropuccinia psidii may complete its sexual life cycle on Myrtaceae. Plant Pathology 67:729-734. 10.1111/ppa.12763
Lu Q, Shao F, Macmillan C, Wilson IW, van der Merwe K, Hussey SG, Myburg AA, Dong X, Qiu D. (2018) Genomewide analysis of the lateral organ boundaries domain (LBD) gene family in Eucalyptus grandis reveals members that differentially impact secondary growth. Plant Biotechnology Journal 10.1111/pbi.12754
Botha J, Mizrachi E, Myburg AA, Cowan DA. (2018) Carbohydrate active enzyme domains from extreme thermophiles: components of a modular toolbox for lignocellulose degradation. Extremophiles 10.1007/s00792-017-0974-7
Nardini L, Hunt RH, Dahan-Moss YL, Christie N, Christian RN, Coetzee M, Koekemoer LL. (2017) Malaria vectors in the Democratic Republic of the Congo: the mechanisms that confer insecticide resistance in Anopheles gambiae and Anopheles funestus. Malaria Journal 16(1):448. 10.1186/s12936-017-2099-y
Mir BA, Myburg AA, Mizrachi E, Cowan DA. (2017) In planta expression of hyperthermophilic enzymes as a strategy for accelerated lignocellulosic digestion. Scientific Reports 7(1):11462. 10.1038/s41598-017-11026-1
Roodt D, Lohaus R, Sterck L, Swanepoel RL, Van de Peer Y, Mizrachi E. (2017) Evidence for an ancient whole genome duplication in the cycad lineage. PLOS ONE 12(9):e0184454. 10.1371/journal.pone.0184454
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
Nzuki I, Katari MS, Bredeson JV, Masumba E, Kapinga F, Salum K, Mkamilo GS, Shah T, Lyons JB, Rokhsar DS, Rounsley S, Myburg AA, Ferguson ME. (2017) QTL Mapping for Pest and Disease Resistance in Cassava and Coincidence of Some QTL with Introgression Regions Derived from Manihot glaziovii. Frontiers in Plant Science 8(1168) 10.3389/fpls.2017.01168
Masumba EA, Kapinga F, Mkamilo G, Salum K, Kulembeka H, Rounsley S, Bredeson JV, Lyons JB, Rokhsar DS, Kanju E, Katari MS, Myburg AA, van der Merwe NA, Ferguson ME. (2017) QTL associated with resistance to cassava brown streak and cassava mosaic diseases in a bi-parental cross of two Tanzanian farmer varieties, Namikonga and Albert. Theoretical and Applied Genetics 130(10):2069-2090. 10.1007/s00122-017-2943-z
Hussey SG, Loots MT, van der Merwe K, Mizrachi E, Myburg AA. (2017) Integrated analysis and transcript abundance modelling of H3K4me3 and H3K27me3 in developing secondary xylem. Scientific Reports 7:3370. 10.1038/s41598-017-03665-1
Vivas M, Kemler M, Mphahlele MM, Wingfield MJ, Slippers B. (2017) Maternal effects on phenotype, resistance and the structuring of fungal communities in Eucalyptus grandis. Environmental and Experimental Botany 140:120-127. 10.1016/j.envexpbot.2017.06.002
Van de Peer Y, Mizrachi E, Marchal K. (2017) The evolutionary significance of polyploidy. Nature Reviews Genetics 18:411-424. 10.1038/nrg.2017.26
Zwart L, Berger DK, Moleleki LN, Van der Merwe NA, Myburg AA, Naidoo S. (2017) Evidence for salicylic acid signalling and histological changes in the defence response of Eucalyptus grandis to Chrysoporthe austroafricana. Scientific Reports 7:45402. 10.1038/srep45402 PDF
Tobias PA, Christie N, Naidoo S, Guest DI, Külheim C. (2017) Identification of the Eucalyptus grandis chitinase gene family and expression characterization under different biotic stress challenges. Tree Physiology 37(5):565-582. 10.1093/treephys/tpx010
Mizrachi E, Verbeke L, Christie N, Fierro AC, Mansfield SD, Davis MF, Gjersing E, Tuskan GA, Van Montagu M, Van de Peer Y, Marchal K, Myburg AA. (2017) Network-based integration of systems genetics data reveals pathways associated with lignocellulosic biomass accumulation and processing. PNAS 114(5):1195-1200. 10.1073/pnas.1620119114 PDF
Christie N, Myburg AA, Joubert F, Murray SL, Carstens M, Lin Y-C, Meyer J, Crampton BG, Christensen SA, Ntuli JF, Wighard SS, Van de Peer Y, Berger DK. (2017) Systems genetics reveals a transcriptional network associated with susceptibility in the maize-gray leaf spot pathosystem. The Plant Journal 89(4):746-763. 10.1111/tpj.13419
Marsberg A, Kemler M, Jami F, Nagel JH, Postma-Smidt A, Naidoo S, Wingfield MJ, Crous PW, Spatafora J, Hesse CN, Robbertse B, Slippers B. (2017) Botryosphaeria dothidea: A latent pathogen of global importance to woody plant health. Molecular Plant Pathology 18:477–488. 10.1111/mpp.12495
Oates CN, Denby KJ, Myburg AA, Slippers B, Naidoo S. (2016) Insect gallers and their plant hosts: From omics data to systems biology. International Journal of Molecular Sciences 17(11):1891. 10.3390/ijms17111891 PDF
Roux J, Granados GM, Shuey L, Barnes I, Wingfield MJ, McTaggart AR. (2016) A unique genotype of the rust pathogen, Puccinia psidii, on Myrtaceae in South Africa. Australasian Plant Pathology 45:645-652. 10.1007/s13313-016-0447-y
Kanzi AM, Wingfield BD, Steenkamp ET, Naidoo S, Van der Merwe NA. (2016) Intron derived size polymorphism in the mitochondrial genomes of closely related Chrysoporthe species. PLOS ONE 11(6):e0156104. 10.1371/journal.pone.0156104
Oelofse D, Gazendam I, Veale A, Djami-Tchatchou A, Berger D, Dubery I. (2016) Functional characterization of a defense-related class-III chitinase promoter from Lupinus albus, active in legume and monocot tissues. European Journal of Plant Pathology 146(4):923-936. 10.1007/s10658-016-0970-2
McTaggart AR, van der Nest MA, Steenkamp ET, Roux J, Slippers B, Shuey LS, Wingfield MJ, Drenth A. (2016) Fungal Genomics Challenges the Dogma of Name-Based Biosecurity. PLoS Pathogens 12(5):e1005475. 10.1371/journal.ppat.1005475 PDF
Davin N, Edger PP, Hefer CA, Mizrachi E, Schuetz M, Smets E, Myburg AA, Douglas CJ, Schranz ME, Lens F. (2016) Functional network analysis of genes differentially expressed during xylogenesis in soc1ful woody Arabidopsis plants. The Plant Journal 86(5):376-390. 10.1111/tpj.13157
Mewalal R, Mizrachi E, Coetzee B, Mansfield SD, Myburg AA. (2016) The Arabidopsis Domain of Unknown Function 1218 (DUF1218) Containing Proteins, MODIFYING WALL LIGNIN-1 and 2 (At1g31720/MWL-1 and At4g19370/MWL-2) Function Redundantly to Alter Secondary Cell Wall Lignin Content. PLoS ONE 11(3):e0150254. 10.1371/journal.pone.0150254 PDF
Mizrachi E, Myburg AA. (2016) Systems genetics of wood formation. Current Opinion in Plant Biology 30:94-100. 10.1016/j.pbi.2016.02.007