During the past week, Prof. David Sillam-Dussès from France visited FABI to do some field work as part of a collaborative research project. The project was initiated last year between the University of Pretoria, the Laboratoire d'Ethologie Expérimentale et Comparée (University of Paris) and the Institute of Ecology and Environmental Sciences (IEES) in Paris. Collaborators on the project are Profs Sillam-Dussès, Wilhelm de Beer, and Mireille Vasseur-Cognet.

The focus of this particular project is to determine the basis of the extended longevity of fungus-growing termite queens and kings. It has been suggested that these insects are among the longest living insects on earth, with estimated life spans of up to 50 years, with some sources claiming that the queens can even become 80 years old. During the past week more termites and their culitivated fungus were collected for the project. The project forms part of a greater collaboration between the University of Pretoria, and several reserach groups in the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, the USA and France.

Photos: Profs Sillma-Dusses and De Beer, together with Alec Mtuyedwa, collecting termites and their fungal symbionts. (Credits: W. de Beer)

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Linnakoski R, Forbes KM, Wingfield MJ, Pulkkinen P, Asiegbu FO. (2017) Testing projected climate change conditions on the Endoconidiophora polonica / Norway spruce pathosystem shows fungal strain specific effects. Frontiers in Plant Science 8:883. 10.3389/fpls.2017.00883 PDF
Crous CJ, Burgess TI, Le Roux JJ, Richardson DM, Slippers B, Wingfield MJ. (2017) Ecological disequilibrium drives insect pest and pathogen accumulation in non-native trees. AoB Plants 9:plw081. 10.1093/aobpla/plw081
Swart V, Crampton BG, Ridenour J, Bluhm BH, Olivier NA, Meyer JJM, Berger DK. (2017) Complementation of CTB7 in the maize pathogen Cercospora zeina overcomes the lack of in vitro cercosporin production. Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions First Look Online 10.1094/MPMI-03-17-0054-R
Wingfield MJ, Slippers B, Wingfield BD, Barnes I. (2017) The unified framework for biological invasions: a forest fungal pathogen perspective. Biological Invasions 10.1007/s10530-017-1450-0
Tanui CK, Shyntum DY, Priem SL, Theron J, Moleleki LN. (2017) Influence of the ferric uptake regulator (Fur) protein on pathogenicity in Pectobacterium carotovorum subsp. brasiliense. Plos One 5(12) 10.1371/journal.pone.0177647