A group of FABI researchers were recently joined by colleagues from various USA institutions and Stellenbosch University for the fifth in-person meeting of the Bark Beetle Mycobiome network project in South Africa.  This 10-day event, led by Prof. Irene Barnes of FABI and Prof. Jiri Hulcr (University of Florida) commenced in the George area where the team of 17 spent each day collecting bark-beetle specimens in the pristine natural forests of the area, followed by intensive inspection of the collections, including preliminary beetle identifications and isolations for fungi. Work extended into evenings and included several invigorating fireside discussions concerning hot topics related to beetle fungus symbioses, best practices for collections, data management platforms and much, much more. On the sixth day, the group drove down the magnificent South African “Garden Route” to the Cape peninsula, where they continued laboratory work on the specimens and further discussions regarding research outcomes from the project. The team was hosted by Prof. Francois Roets, utilizing the facilities of Stellenbosch University.

The final day of the meeting was spent visiting the world-famous Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden allowing the group opportunities to enjoy elements of the local South African flora and to view a number of FABI tree health projects ongoing in the gardens, presented by Dr Trudy Paap.

Click here to watch a video of "a few sounds and pictures from the verdant greenery that we crawled through" during our Bark Beetle Microbiome Workshop, made by Prof. Jiri Hulcr.