Prof Alexander (Zander) Myburg is researcher and a member of the lecturing staff of the Department of Genetics at the University of Pretoria, South Africa. He obtained his PhD in Genetics and Forestry at the North Carolina State University in the USA in 2001. He joined UP as a lecturer in 2001 and is currently an associate professor. He directs the Wood and Fibre Molecular Genetics Programme, a joint research and development venture between the University of Pretoria, Sappi Forest Products and Mondi Business Paper South Africa. He is also the coordinator of the International Eucalyptus Genome Network (EUCAGEN). Prof Myburg was recently awarded the prestigious National Research Foundation (NRF) President’s Award, for outstanding young researchers. Prof Myburg’s research group are also lead participants in the US Department of Energy (DOE) funded Eucalyptus Genome Project. As a contribution to this project, they have recently used next-generation DNA sequencing technology to produce the first transcriptome sequence (more than 18,800 expressed genes) of a fast-growing Eucalyptus plantation tree in South Africa (http://eucspresso.bi.up.ac.za/).
Prof Myburg’s research programme (Forest Molecular Genetics, FMG) focuses on on the molecular genetics and genomics of wood formation (xylogenesis) in fast-growing plantation tree species. This process is fundamental to carbon fixation in woody plants and to the pulp and paper manufacturing processes of our industrial partners, Sappi and Mondi. His research is also focussed on addressing important scientific questions such as the genetic control of carbon allocation into cellulose, hemi-cellulose and lignin, the major biopolymers in wood fibre.
As part of his ongoing work on the molecular genetics of xylem development in Eucalyptus trees, his research group id using a range of molecular biology and genomics technologies for (A) Gene discovery and functional genetics research (e.g. nextgen-transcriptome sequencing, microarray analysis, gene cloning, vector construction and plant transformation), (B) Population genomics research (genome and transcriptome mapping), and (C) the Development of molecular breeding tools (e.g. DArT, SSR and SNP markers) for the genetic improvement of trees.
Prof Myburg is part of several active international collaborations one being; acollaboration with Prof. Shawn Mansfield at the University of British Columbia (Vancouver, Canada) to study the molecular biology of carbon allocation in fibre cell walls. Prof Myburg also actively involved in the Eucalyptus Genome Project and has in the past three years worked with the local Bioinformatics and Computational Biology Unit (Prof. Fourie Joubert) to develop bioinformatics capacity for high-throughput genomics. Most of the research activities in the FMG programme are funded as part of a joint research venture of the University of Pretoria, Sappi and Mondi. d
Prof Zander Myburg, Tel: +27 12 420 4945, Fax: +27 12 420 3947