Two FABI PhD graduates, Drs Draginja Pavlic-Zupanc and Wubetu Bihon have been appointed Extraordinary Lecturers at the University of Pretoria. Dr Pavlic-Zupanc is a senior researcher and project leader at the Agricultural Research Council-Plant Protection Research (ARC-PPR), while Dr Bihon is a researcher in mycology at the ARC-Roodeplaat Vegetable and Ornamental Plants Institute (VOPI) whose focus is on plant pathogenic fungi on vegetables.

Their appointment as extraordinary lecturers sees them working together again with some of their former supervisors at FABI, Professors Bernard Slippers, Mike Wingfield, and Jolanda Roux on a three-year project. The two are involved in a research project funded jointly by the National Research Foundation (NRF) in South Africa and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC). Dr Pavlic-Zupanc leads the project and as the principal investigator will work with Dr Bihon, FABI researchers, Dr Ying Zhanga and her team from Beijing Forest University in China.

The aim of the project is to survey the distribution and diversity of Botryosphaeriaceae, which causes cankers on forest and fruit trees, in woody plants in China and South Africa. The project will contribute barcoding datasets of Botryosphaeriaceae to the International Barcode of Life project, MycoBank and GenBank for easy access to data as well as the accurate and quick identification of these pathogens. The two researchers look forward to strengthening their ties with FABI again, the future research collaborations and getting involved in post-graduate student training.