Home > People > Staff > Academic > Suhail Rafudeen
Academic Staff

Suhail Rafudeen | Plant Stress Group

Research | Publications | Collaborations | Lab members

Dr Suhail Rafudeen | Telephone: +27 21 650 3263 | Facsimile: +27 21 650 1861

My main research aim is to understand the molecular mechanisms of abiotic and biotic stress responses in plants and biotechnological improvement of crop plants important to Africa.
With respect to abiotic stress, my main focus is plant response to drought using indigenous desiccation tolerant resurrection plants as model systems. Resurrection plants, such as such as Xerophyta viscosa and Eragrostis nindensis can tolerate extreme water loss (greater than 90%) which makes them ideal systems to study drought stress tolerance. I link this research to cereal crops such as maize and E. tef which are important food crops in Africa. I use the proteomic approach complemented with molecular biology to explore and investigate the changes in the proteome or of specific genes in the resurrection and crop plants, respectively, in response to drought. Genes and promoter elements isolated from such plants are then used to improve drought tolerance of cereal crops of agronomic importance via plant transformation technology.

I have an interest in plant biotic stress responses to plant viruses and fungal pathogens. I have recently initiated research into Fusarium verticillioides infection of maize which results in Fusarium ear rot disease. It is considered to be one of the most serious fungal pathogens affecting S. African maize farmers. We have completed an RNA-seq study of Fusarium infection of an African maize line with the aim of finding genes and promoter elements that can be used to improve maize defense against this disease. We have also examined genetic diversity and distribution of Aspergillus flavus isolates in different Kenyan counties with the aim of finding the reasons for the frequent cases of aflatotoxin poisoning in certain counties. This has been coupled with finding a biocontrol strategy to limit toxigenic A. flavus infection.

Selected publications
  1. Alfred Mitema; Sheila Okoth; Mohamed Suhail Rafudeen. (2018) Vegetative compatibility and phenotypic characterization as a means of determining genetic diversity of Aspergillus flavus isolates. Fungal Biology
  2. Kamies, R.; Farrant, J.M.; Tadele, Z.;Cannarozzi, G. and Rafudeen, M.S. (2017) A Proteomic Approach to Investigate the Drought Response in the Orphan Crop Eragrostis tef. Proteomes 5(4)
  3. Freedom Tshabuse; Jill M. Farrant; Lydie Humbert; Deborah Moura; Dominique Rainteau; Christophe Espinasse; Abdelghani Idrissi; Franck Merlier; Sébastien Acket; Mohamad S. Rafudeen; Brigitte Thomasset and Eric Ruelland. (2017) Glycerolipid analysis during desiccation and recovery of the resurrection plant Xerophyta humilis (Bak) Dur and Schinz. Journal Plant, Cell and Environment
  4. Benny Lemaire, Samson Chimphango, Charles Stirton, Suhail Rafudeen, Olivier Honnay, Erik Smets, Wen-Ming Chen, Janet Sprent, Euan James, and Muthama Muasya. (2016). Biogeographical patterns of legume-nodulating Burkholderia: from African Fynbos to continental scales. Appl & Environmental Microbiol. AEM00591-16R1
  5. Govender Kershini, Thomson Jennifer A., Mundree Sagadevan, ElSayed Abdelaleim Ismail, Rafudeen Mohammed Suhail (2016) Molecular and biochemical characterisation of a novel type II peroxiredoxin (XvPrx2) from the resurrection plant Xerophyta viscosa. Functional Plant Biology
  6. Naidoo R.K., Rafudeen M.S. & Coyne V.E. (2016) Investigation of the Gracilaria gracilis (Gracilariales, Rhodophyta) proteome response to nitrogen limitation. Journal of Phycology.
  7. Farrant J.M., Cooper K., Hilgart A., Abdalla K.O., Bentley J., Thomson J.A., Dace H.J., Peton N., Mundree S.G. & Rafudeen M.S. (2015) A molecular physiological review of vegetative desiccation tolerance in the resurrection plant Xerophyta viscosa (Baker). Planta, 242, 407-426.
  8. Assefa, K., Cannarozzi, G., Girma, D., Kamies, R., Chanyalew, S., Plaza-Wüthrich, S., Blosch, R., Rindisbacher, A., Rafudeen, S., Tadele, Z. (2015). Genetic diversity in tef [Eragrostis tef (Zucc.) Trotter]. Frontiers in Plant Science6: 177.
  9. ElSayed A, Rafudeen M.S, Golldack D. (2014) Physiological aspects of raffinose family oligosaccharides (RFOs) in plants: Protection against abiotic stress. Plant Biology. 16 (1):1-8
  10. Abdelaleim Ismail ElSayed, Moncef Boulila & Mohamad Suhail Rafudeen.(2013) Investigation into the Expression of Sucrose Transporters and Sucrose Phosphate Synthase mRNA in Different Plant Species. Agric Res. 2(1):31–42.
  11. Agrawal, G. K., Sarkar, A., Righetti, P. G., Pedreschi, R., Carpentier, S., Wang, T., Barkla, B. J., Kohli, A., Ndimba, B. K., Bykova, N. V., Rampitsch, C., Zolla, L., Rafudeen, M. S., Cramer, R., Bindschedler, L. V., Tsakirpaloglou, N., Ndimba, R. J., Farrant, J. M., Renaut, J., Job, D., Kikuchi, S. & Rakwal, R. (2013) A decade of plant proteomics and mass spectrometry: Translation of technical advancements to food security and safety issues. Mass spectrometry reviews.

Prof Jill Farrant (MCB), Dr Shane Murray (CPGR), Dr Anwar Jardine (Chemistry, UCT)

Lab members

Ali Kiyaei - PhD | The PR10 protein is believed to play a role in plant adaptation to extreme environmental stresses. Despite its apparent role in plant defense responses, its exact biological functions are still unknown. Molecular studies on the isolated PR10 from Xerophyta viscosa would further our understanding on this PR Protein family.

Hawwa Gabier - PhD | I am analysing the Maize and Xerophyta viscosa phosphoproteomes and transcriptomes in response to dehydration stress. The understanding of how Maize and Xerophyta viscosa signalling pathways are regulated in response to dehydration will provide us with information on how to improve abiotic stress tolerance in crop plants.

Naadirah Moola - MSc 

Alfred Mitema - PhD | Aflatoxins are toxic secondary metabolites produced by the filamentous fungi Aspergillus species. My research focuses on the isolation and characterization of aflatoxin biosynthetic genes and on the study of biocontrol strategies for aflatoxin mitigation. I use A. flavus strains isolated from maize kernels sampled from different geographical regions in Kenya.