FABI celebrated the capping of five PhD and 14 MSc graduates at the University of Pretoria’s Spring Graduation on 8 September. Congratulations to all the graduates on this achievement and we wish them well in their future endeavors. Listed below is a list of the graduates conferred degrees and the titles of their dissertation.


Jane Chepsergon

Thesis: Identification and functional characterization of short linear motifs (SLiMs) of Phytophthora parasitica var nicotianae “Core” RxLR effector proteins.

Supervisor: Prof L.N. Moleleki

Brigitte Langenhoven

Thesis: Insights into northern leaf blight disease: investigating the Exserohilum turcicum-Sorghum bicolor interaction.

Supervisor: Dr B.G. Crampton

External co-supervisor: Dr S.L. Murray (Centre for Proteomic and Genomic Research)

Lorraine Mhoswa

Thesis: Genome-wide association study in Eucalyptus grandis for resistance to Leptocybe invasa.

Supervisor: Prof. S. Naidoo

Co-supervisors: Prof. A.A Myburg, Prof. B. Slippers

Mmoledi Mphahlele

Thesis: Genomic breeding for accelerated improvement of growth, wood properties and plant defence in Eucalyptus grandis.

Supervisor: Prof. A.A. Myburg

External co-supervisors: Prof. G.R. Hodge (North Carolina State University, United States of America), Prof. F. Isik (North Carolina State University, United States of America)

Vongai Paradza

Thesis: Development of effective biopesticides against Greenhouse whitefly, Trialeurodes vaporariorum Westwood (Hemiptera: Aleyrodidae) in tomato and French bean .

Supervisor: Prof. A.A. Yusuf

External co-supervisors: Dr K.S. Akutse (International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology, Kenya), Dr F.M. Khamis (International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology, Kenya)


Desiree Biya

Dissertation: Diversity of fumonisin-producing Aspergillus and Fusarium species in maize collected in South Africa.

Supervisor: Prof. L.N. Moleleki

External co-supervisors: Dr E. Ncube (Agricultural Research Council), Dr M. Truter (Agricultural Research Council)

Hamish Craze

Dissertation: The use of deep learning for identification of grey leaf spot in maize with mixed diseases under field conditions.

Supervisor: Prof. D.K. Berger

Co-supervisors: Prof. F. Joubert, Prof. N. Pillay

Stefan Ferreira

Dissertation: The role of transketolase and transaldolase in carbon partitioning to lignin in Arabidopsis thaliana.

Supervisor: Prof. E. Mizrachi

Co-supervisors: Prof. A.A. Myburg, Dr V.J. Maloney

Leandri Klynsmith (with Distinction)

Dissertation: Functional characterisation of Sirex noctilio chemosensation genes.

Supervisor: Prof. B. Slippers

Co-supervisors: Dr J.D. Allison, Dr T.A. Duong, Ms. A Postma Smidt

Christopher Liakos (with Distinction)

Dissertation: Bacterial microbiome of healthy and diseased storage onion bulbs from Washington State, USA.

Supervisors: Prof. T.A. Coutinho

Co-supervisors: Prof. J.E. van der Waals, Dr P.H. Bixirao Neto Marinho Lebre

Mabodiba Maake (with Distinction)

Dissertation: Diversity of Bradyrhizobium and Mesorhizobium strains associated with root nodules of indigenous South African legumes.

Supervisor: Prof. S.N. Venter

Co-supervisor: Prof E.T. Steenkamp

Aaron Maringa (with Distinction)

Dissertation: Investigating the adhesion of encysted zoospores of the oomycete Phytophthora cinnamomi during the early infection of avocado.

Supervisor: Prof. N. van den Berg

Co-supervisor: Dr V. Swart

Celiwe Nxumalo

Dissertation: Functional characterization of Phytophthora parasitica PpRxLR1 and PpRxLR6 effectors in Nicotiana benthamiana.

Supervisor: Prof. L.N. Moleleki

Trystan Nadasen (with Distinction)

Dissertation: Transient expression of two Cercospora zeina fungal effectors in Nicotiana benthamiana.

Supervisor: Prof. D.K. Berger

Co-supervisor: Prof. I. Hein

Cindy Ramokgano

Dissertation: Diversity of endophytic fungi associated with branches of Berchemia discolor in the Limpopo province of South Africa.

Supervisor: Prof. M.P.A. Coetzee

Co-supervisor: Prof. E.T. Steenkamp

Cassandra Schoeman (with Distinction)

Dissertation: The Encephalartos natalensis-cyanobacterial coralloid root partnership for nitrogen acquisition.

Supervisor: Prof E Mizrachi

Co-supervisors: Prof TP Makhalanyane, Dr D Roodt

Medha Sood (with Distinction)

Dissertation: Structure-function relationship between plastid morphology and carbon partitioning during secondary cell wall synthesis in Arabidopsis thaliana.

Supervisor: Prof. E. Mizrachi

Co-supervisors: Prof. V. van Staden, Dr V.J. Maloney, Dr D.S. Pinard

Zorada Swart (with Disctinction)

Dissertation: Characterisation of Deladenus siricidicola genes potentially involved in parasitism and host immunomodulation.

Supervisor: Prof. B. Slippers

Co-supervisors: Prof. B.D. Wingfield, Dr T.A. Duong, Ms. A. Postma Smidt

Lenteli van Zyl (with distinction)

Dissertation: Production of defensive metabolites by Pinus patula x Pinus tecunumanii hybrids in response to Fusarium circinatum infection.

Supervisor: Prof. A. Hammerbacher

Co-supervisors: Prof. E.T. Steenkamp, Dr F.F. Fru