FABI would like to congratulate the 25 FABIans that graduated at the University of Pretoria’s Autumn Graduation ceremony on 2 May. FABI was especially proud to have seven of the nine PhD graduates from this institute. Two MSc students were capped along with 16 postgraduate students associated with FABI who were conferred their Honours degrees. 5

Listed below are the PhD graduates and the titles of their dissertations as well as the Honours students with projects in FABI over the past year. (* degrees awarded with distinction).


Dr Birhan Abate

Molecular characterization and evaluation of entomopathogenic nematodes in South African forestry plantations.

Supervisor: Dr BP Hurley

Co-supervisors: Prof. B Slippers, Prof. MJ Wingfield

Dr Mesfin Gossa

Ecology and diversity of introduced Pissodes (Coleoptera: Curculionidae) in South Africa.

Supervisor: Dr BP Hurley

Co-supervisors: Dr JR Garnas, Prof. B Slippers

Dr Stanford Kwenda

Transcriptome profiling of potato plant stems challenged with Pectobacterium carotovorum subsp. brasiliense and elucidation of the role of small RNAs in Pectobacterium survival mechanisms.

Supervisor: Prof. LN Moleleki

Co-supervisors: Prof. PRJ Birch

Dr Jacqueline Meyer

RNA sequencing of maize reveals metabolic processes, candidate defence genes and SNP markers associated with grey leaf spot disease resistance.

Supervisor: Prof. DK Berger

Co-supervisors: Dr SL Murray (University of Cape Town)

Dr Eston Mutito

Invasion history of Thaumastocoris peregrinus and development of a biological control agent.

Supervisor: Prof. B Slippers

Co-supervisors: Dr JR Garnas, Prof. MJ Wingfield, Dr BP Hurley

Dr Alex Osorio

Diseases of mangrove trees in South Africa.

Supervisor: Prof. J Roux

Co-supervisors: Prof. MJ Wingfield, Prof. ZW de Beer

Dr Priyen Pillay

Characterisation of VP1 protein sensitivity against proteases and identification of agroinfiltration-induced proteases in Nicotiana benthamiana leaves.

Supervisor: Prof. KJ Kunert

Co-supervisors: Dr BJ Vorster



Gustav Pretorius

Towards an understanding of quorum sensing in Pectobacterium carotovorum subsp. brasiliense.

Supervisor: Prof. LN Moleleki

Co-supervisors: Prof. J. Theron

Ncobile Kunene

Mating-type gene analysis of Cercospora zeina in commercial and small-holder maize farms in South Africa.

Supervisor: Prof. DK Berger

Co-supervisors: Dr SM Phillips


BSc Honours students affiliated with FABI

Nadine Botha

Claudio de Nuzzo

Herman Els

Shannon Flemington*

Alessandro Gricia

Melissa Joubert*

Dineo Mailula

Sophie Makua

Puseletso Manyaka

Nikki Miguel*

Seamus Morgan

Debra Phaswana

Talia Pillay*

Julanie Stapelberg

Salome van Hoepen

Bradley Vincent    

New Publications

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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