A new partnership was recently been launched between the Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute (FABI) at the University of Pretoria and Milk South Africa (Milk SA) to investigate Sporidesmin-Induced Liver Disease (SILD) in dairy cattle in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa. The disease is commonly referred to as facial eczema, but it in fact is not a skin disease, rather a liver disease caused by the mycotoxin sporidesmin produced by the fungus Pseudopithomyces chartarum. Dairy farmers in the Eastern Cape coast are well aware of facial eczema but there is very little known regarding ,its prevalence or economic impact.

The partnership to study this important problem was officially launched on 8 May in Pretoria with a contract signing ceremony involving Dr Heinz Meissner (Research and Development Programme Leader of MilkSA), Dr Neriman Yilmaz and Prof. Bernard Slippers from FABI. Other attendees included Nico Fouché (CEO of Milk SA), Proff. Cobus Visagie and Mike Wingfield, and Jenna-Lee Price, a PhD candidate working on the project.

The broad aim of the project will be to gain a better understanding of the fungi associated with SILD, the role that they and their metabolites play in inducing the disease, as well as to find alternative control measures.