Congratulations to all the FABI graduates that were capped at the University of Pretoria’s Autumn graduation in May. Five doctoral and 20 M.Sc. were conferred on the FABIans while 20 B.Sc. Hons graduates who completed their research projects were also capped. FABI congratulates all the graduates on their remarkable achievements!

Listed below are the graduates with their thesis and dissertation titles:


Dr Juanita Avontuur

Thesis: Genome-based systematics of Bradyrhizobium and its species

Supervisor: Prof. ET Steenkamp

Co-supervisors: Prof. MPA Coetzee, Prof. SN Venter

External co-supervisor: Prof. TM Stepkowski (Warsaw University of Life Sciences, Poland)

Dr Julia Candotti

Thesis: Haplogenome analysis and genetic dissection of growth and wood property

traits in Eucalyptus urophylla x E. grandis hybrids

Supervisor: Prof. AA Myburg

Co-supervisors: Prof. E Mizrachi, Prof. S Naidoo, Prof. T Duong

Dr Nam Pham

Thesis: Discovery of the cause and relevance of a serious new Eucalyptus foliar disease in Indonesia

Supervisor: Prof. MJ Wingfield

Co-supervisors: Prof. I Barnes, Prof. BD Wingfield

Dr Lazarus Takawira

Thesis: Inferring secondary cell wall-related R2R3-MYB transcription factor gene

targets in Eucalyptus grandis using DNA affinity purification sequencing

Supervisor: Dr SG Hussey

Co-supervisors: Prof. E Mizrachi, Prof. AA Myburg

Dr Marthin Tarigan

Thesis: Emerging pathogens of Eucalyptus and Acacia plantation forestry in Indonesia

Supervisor: Prof MJ Wingfield

Co-supervisor: Prof I Barnes


MSc (* with distinction)

Derick Claassens

Dissertation: Diversity of diazotrophic bacteria associated with Eucalyptus and Acacia trees

Supervisor: Prof. ET Steenkamp

Co-supervisor: Prof. SN Venter

Ruby Ebbeling*

Dissertation: Precision phenotyping of pines for resistance against Fusarium circinatum

Supervisor: Prof. S Naidoo

Co-supervisor: Dr EA Visser

Lihan Esterhuizen*

Dissertation   Detection of Phytophthora root rot in Eucalyptus trees using hyperspectral leaf reflectance

Supervisor: Prof. A Hammerbacher

Co-supervisors: Prof. B Slippers, Dr T Bose, Dr AS Bosman

Bianca Hough*

Dissertation: Genomic characterisation of mycoviruses associated with members of


Supervisor: Dr DA Read

Co-supervisor: Prof. BD Wingfield

Marisca Hough

Dissertation: Comparing a pathogenicity effector gene family from two Cercospora species by Agroinfiltration into tobacco

Supervisor: Prof. DK Berger

Luke Kim

Dissertation: CRISPR gene editing of glucuronoxylan methyltransferase genes in Populus tremula x albahybrids to alter xylan properties for woody biomass processing

Supervisor: Prof. AA Myburg

Co-supervisors: Prof. E Mizrachi, Dr VJ Maloney

Daniella Krämer*

Dissertation: Characterization of hybridization events between three closely related species of Ceratocystis

Supervisor: Dr PM Wilken

Co-supervisors: Prof. ET Steenkamp, Prof. BD Wingfield

Lindokuhle Masimula

Dissertation: Characterization of selected rhizobia as potential inoculants for crop legumes in South Africa

Supervisor: Dr EK Muema

Co-supervisors: Prof. ET Steenkamp, Prof. SN Venter, Dr CW Krynauw

Kayla Midgley*

Dissertation: Identification and expression analysis of Phytophthora cinnamomi CRN effector genes during infection of Persea americana (Mill.)

Supervisor: Dr V Swart

Co-supervisor: Prof. N van den Berg

Monique Muller*

Dissertation: Population genetic analysis and evolutionary history of the pine needle

pathogen, Dothistroma pini

Supervisor: Prof. I Barnes

Co-supervisor: Prof. MJ Wingfield

Tiphany Nkomo

Dissertation: Exploring the mycorrhizal interactions and deciphering the fungal diversity associated with orchid hybrids from the genus Epidendrum

Supervisor: Prof. A Hammerbacher

Co-supervisors: Prof. BD Wingfield, Dr T Bose

Jostina Rakoma

Dissertation: Structure of the mating-type locus in ambrosial and asexual Ceratocystidaceae species

Supervisor: Dr PM Wilken

Co-supervisor: Prof. BD Wingfield

Claire Randolph*

Dissertation: A population genetics study of Fusarium euwallaceae in South Africa

Supervisor: Prof. I Barnes

Co-supervisor: Dr T Paap

Lebone Sebapu

Dissertation: Novel markers for inference of species boundaries in Ceratocystis fimbriata sensu lato

Supervisor: Prof. A Duong

Co-supervisor: Prof. BD Wingfield

Preston Shaw*

Dissertation: Alternative splicing in the fungal plant pathogens Ceratocystis fimbriata and C. eucalypticola

Supervisor: Dr A Duong

Co-supervisors: Prof. B Slippers, Prof. BD Wingfield

Elmarie van der Merwe*

Dissertation: Development of CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing tools for the insect pest Sirex noctilio

Supervisor: Dr G Dittrich-Schröder

Co-supervisor: Prof. B Slippers

Jan van der Westhuizen


Supervisor: Prof. J Vorster

Co-supervisor: Prof. K Kunert

Alida van Dijk*

Dissertation: Development of CRISPR-Cas systems for genome and transcriptome editing in Fusarium circinatum

Supervisor: Prof. ET Steenkamp

Co-supervisors: Prof. BD Wingfield, Dr AM Wilson

Alishia van Heerden*

Dissertation: Characterisation of the melanin biosynthesis gene cluster and its application in species identification

Supervisor: Dr PM Wilken

Co-supervisors: Prof. MJ Wingfield, Prof. BD Wingfield

Melandré van Lill*

Dissertation: Prediction of key phenotypes of Mesorhizobium based on genome sequences

Supervisor: Prof. SN Venter

Co-supervisor: Prof. ET Steenkamp

External co-supervisor: Dr CW Krynauw (The James Hutton Institute, United Kingdom)

Sumari Venter

Dissertation: Differential gene expression linked to parasitic and mycetophagous forms of Deladenus siricidicola in culture

Supervisor: Prof. B Slippers

Co-supervisor: Ms A Postma



Adam Bazerbachi

Simone Bence

Matthew Bennet

Jessica Berry

Marcelle Booysen

Simoné Bornman

Jana Botes

Jessica Coetzee

Sapphire de Zoete

Vicki Hurwitz

Michelle Kretzschmar

Anthea le Roux

Tshwanelo Mashimbye

Goitseona Modisane

Phenyo Mokgadi

Sophie Nyoni

Grant Terblanche

Ipeleng Pooa

Tanya Pretorius

Bernice Small

Faan Smit

James Smith

Alexander Sotiralis

Hanneke van Loggerenberg