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The Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute (FABI) and Southern African Macadamia Growers’ Association (SAMAC) have established a collaborative research partnership, the Macadamia Protection Programme (MaPP). This programme will address the threats posed by pests and diseases to Macadamia farming in South Africa. The new partnership was officially launched on 22 February with a ceremonial signing of a certificate by SAMAC Chairman, Walter Giuricich, Dean of the University of Pretoria's Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, Prof. Jean Lubuma and FABI Director Prof. Mike Wingfield.

South Africa is the second biggest macadamia nut producer in the world and the industry is regarded as the fastest growing tree-crop industry in the country. This industry is, however, threatened by a number of pests and diseases that can cause significant economic losses. In addition, the continuous build-up of resistance towards commercially available pesticides and chemicals is of concern to growers.

In order to ensure the long-term sustainability of the macadamia industry, growers need to move towards alternative control and management strategies.

The overall focus of the MaPP, under the leadership of Dr Gerda Fourie, will be to assist in the development of commercially viable biological control options, as well as alternative management strategies. More specifically, this research programme will focus on the development of biologically relevant information on important pests and pathogens of macadamias in order to improve integrated pest management systems. The programme will also aim to contribute to the development of biological control agents and natural products, as well as to conduct research that assists in the selection of resistant or tolerant cultivars.

The newly established Macadamia Protection Programme will also collaborate with existing research Groups within FABI including the Tree Protection Co-Operative Programme (TPCP), DST-NRF Centre of Excellence in Tree Health Biotechnology (CTHB) and the Fruit Tree Biotechnology Programme (FTBP).  This will provide substantial synergy for all of these Programmes focused broadly on promoting TREE HEALTH.    

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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