Sirex noctilio, also known as the European woodwasp, is one of the major pests on pine trees. The woodwasp has spread into many countries of the southern hemisphere and was first detected in South Africa in 1994. This introduction has resulted in the establishment of the Sirex research program of the TPCP, which has grown to be one of the largest research projects in FABI. The global impact of this pest has stimulated a broad network of collaborations, especially around biological control programs. An important focus of this research internationally is on the primary biological control agent, the nematode Deladenus siricidicola. The nematode is native to Eurasia, but has been used extensively in the Southern Hemisphere for biological control. To compare the genetic diversity of Deladenus siricidicola between native and non-native areas, Katrin Fitza, a PhD student in FABI, visited the laboratory of Dr. Maria J. Lombardero from the Lugo campus of the University of Santiago de Compostela in Spain, to collect nematode samples. Dr. Lombardero works on forest health and population dynamics of forest insects. The samples collected where brought back to South Africa and will form part of a larger collection that is studied to understand the global diversity of the nematode.

Besides the interesting research and lab work Katrin also had the opportunity to learn about the Spanish kitchen, see the UNESCO heritage sight, the Roman wall in Lugo surrounding the old city centre, as well as the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela, the designation of the St. James's Trail.