Congratulations to Rachel Mkandawire on successfully completing her PhD. Rachel presented her Prestige Seminar “Diversity of Fusarium Link and mite species associated with malformed Syzygium cordatum Hochst. Ex Krauss (Water berry) inflorescences” on 15 May Introducing Rachel, Dr Gerda Fourie praised Rachel for her perseverance in completing her degree in spite of obstacles and describing it as an ‘incredible journey’ with Rachel being determine to push through and finish her degree. Rachel’s supervisors were: Dr Gerda Fourie, Prof. Emma Steenkamp, Prof. Mike Wingfield and Dr Neriman Yilmaz. Her examiners were Prof. Sandra Lamprecht from the Agricultural Research Council and Prof. Ludwig Pfenning from Universidade Federal de Lavras in Brazil while Prof. Martin Coetzee was the internal examiner.

Floral malformations are abnormalities that occur in floral inflorescences and are associated with environmental factors, insect pests, and various micro-organisms. Even though floral malformations occur commonly and are well known, knowledge regarding their causes is limited. Rachel’s study looked at the causes of floral malformations in Water berry, an economically important native tree species and summarizes information regarding the biotic and abiotic factors that are associated with floral malformations.