Principal investigator Collaborators Staff Postdoctoral researchers Graduate students Visiting researchers Alumni

Christina Straub

B.rer.nat., M.Sc.


physical: Building 16.10 // The Station Crescent // Oteha Rohe
tel: +64 9 4140800 ext 43811 // email: c.straub(at)


After obtaining my Bachelor’s degree in Physiology and Cell Biology, I did my Master’s studies in Zoology and Molecular Biology at the University of Salzburg (Austria) working on population genetics of Fire Salamanders (Salamandra salamandra). The reason why I wanted to conduct this study was the interesting fact that there are two known Fire Salamander populations within the urbanized area of the city of Salzburg, which are geographically isolated from nearby populations. I used a number of microsatellites and sequencing of part of cytB (mtDNA) to detect any impact of human-made barriers (urbanized area, highways) or natural barriers (river) on gene flow of this long-lived species of amphibians.


I am working on the plant pathogen Pseudomonas syringae pv. actinidiae (or for short Psa), which is the causal agent of bacterial canker on kiwifruit. For the first part of my PhD I am looking into the phylogenetic relationship, diversity and genetic structure of Pseudomonas syringae found on the surface of kiwifruit leaves of Psa infected and non-infected orchards of the two main cultivars grown here in NZ: Hayward (Actinidia deliciosa, green variety) and Hort16A (A. chinensis, the delicious golden kiwifruit with the little knob.)

I collected my leaf samples in kiwifruit orchards around Auckland over the growing season 2013/2014. After establishing a leaf washing technique, I have now isolated a collection of around 380 P. syringae strains and I am in the process of sequencing these on a set of four housekeeping genes for MLST analysis. The data from this study will give me insight into the diversity of P. syringae associated with kiwifruit leaves and I will measure the effect of evolutionary forces acting on the genetic structure of Pseudomonas syringae.


Straub C, Pichlmüller F, Helfer V (2014) Population genetics of Fire salamanders in a Pre-Alpine urbanized area (Salzburg, Austria), accepted in Salamandra.

Pichlmüller F, Straub C, Helfer V (2013) Skin swabbing of amphibian larvae yields sufficient DNA for efficient sequencing and reliable microsatellite genotyping, Amphibia-Reptilia 34: 517-523

McCann HC, Rikkerink EH, Bertels F, Fiers M, Lu A, Rees-George J, Andersen MT, Gleave AP, Haubold B, Wohlers MW, Guttman DS, Wang PW, Straub C, Vanneste JL, Rainey PB, Templeton MD (2013) Genomic Analysis of the Kiwifruit Pathogen Pseudomonas syringae pv. actinidiae Provides Insight into the Origins of an Emergent Plant Disease. PLoS Pathog 9(7): e1003503.

Christina Straub