Page 96 - University of Pretoria RESEARCH REVIEW 2016
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PLANT PRODUCTION and food security
Grey Leaf Spot (GLS) disease in maize, caused by the fungal pathogen Cercospora zeina, can have a serious effect on maize production, often affecting small-holder farmers in South Africa, Africa and further afield.
     Dave Berger and Zander Myburg
Resistance to the fungal pathogen is thought to be a complex trait mediated by many genetic factors and biological processes. The research team of Professor Dave Berger, together with Dr Nanette Christie
and Professor Zander Myburg, applied a systems genetics approach to unravelling gene expression networks and genetic drivers of responses to GLS infection in maize leaves.
In collaboration with industry partner PANNAR SEED Pty Ltd, the team profiled the expression of 19 000 genes in GLS-infected leaves of 100 resistant and susceptible maize lines. This analysis, reported in
a leading plant science journal (Christie et al. The
Plant Journal), revealed exactly which genes and molecular processes were involved in susceptibility and resistance to this important fungal disease. The work lays a sound basis for the future engineering or breeding of new maize lines that will be resistant to the GLS disease.
The work forms part of the research portfolio
of the Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute (FABI) and Genomics Research Institute (GRI), and was supported by the major computing infrastructure in the Centre for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology (CBCB), directed by Dr Fourie Joubert.
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