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As reported extensively in the news media recently, South African farmers have had to contend this season with a new pest - the Fall Armyworm (FAW). This insect prefers maize but is a generalist feeder on many crops and is resistant to pyrethroid insecticides. Emergency responses by agricultural authorities and role players have mitigated the threat. However the pest has already reached most provinces in the country.  FABI’s Molecular Plant-Pathogen Interactions (MPPI) research group added value to their ongoing survey of fungal diseases in small-holder maize farms in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape Provinces by disseminating information about FAW to provincial agricultural extension officers and small-holder farmers.  The MPPI student group of David Nsibo, Zimbili Mlunjwa, Tumisang Mokgobu, Carol-Ann Segal and Rotondwa Nemuhuyuni put together a pictorial information sheet on how to identify the FAW, and translated it into Zulu and Xhosa.  Laminated printouts were shared and discussed with farmers and extension officers in both provinces. The team kept an eye out for FAW but only found it at one site (in KwaZulu-Natal).

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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