The 2017 congress of the Southern African Society for Plant Pathology (SASPP) took place last week at Champagne Sports Resort in the Drakensberg. This year the meeting commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Society, and this was celebrated by five past presidents of the Society popping champagne on the first evening. Forty six FABIans, including 36 students, attended the congress.

The meeting was opened by emeritus Prof. Roland Schulze of the Centre for Water Resources Research at UKZN, predicting the impacts of climate change on agriculture and crop pests and disease. The JE Vanderplank Memorial lecture was given by UKZN graduate, Prof. Lindsey du Toit from Washington State University. She explained how continuous engagement between plant pathologists and farmers has led to enhanced production of spinach in the in USA.

Four FABI staff members, Professors Wilhelm de Beer and Gerhard Pietersen, and Drs Martin Coetzee and Irene Barnes, presented on the first day, together with a postdoctoral fellow, Dr Stuart Fraser, and three PhD students, Elrea Appelgryn, Joey Hulbert and Tanay Bose.

FABI presentations on Day 1

O1: Z.W. de Beer, B. Conlon, H. de Fine Licht, D. Aanen, M. Poulsen. Of early explorers, herbaria, and termite mounds: searching for Podaxis on the trails of Linnaeus, Thunberg, Burchell and Doidge.

O4: S. Fraser, A.R. McTaggart, M.J. Wingfield, J. Roux. Infection biology of the rust pathogen Uromycladium acacia.

O5: J.M. Hulbert, J.J. Roux, T.I. Burgess, F. Roets, M.J. Wingfield. Methods for surveying plant pathogens with citizen science.

O7: M.P.A. Coetzee, N.Y. Musasira, J. Roux, F. Roets, M.J. Wingfield. The European root rot pathogen Armillaria mellea: A growing threat to native South African trees and shrubs.

O9: E. Appelgryn, G. Pietersen. Alternative hosts and seed transmissibility of Soybean blotchy mosaic virus.

O10: G. Pietersen. Control of grapevine leafroll disease in white grapevine cultivars.

O12: T. Bose, M.J. Wingfield, J. Roux, S. Olivier-Espejel, T.I. Burgess. Are Natural Forests the Source of Phytophthora species in plantations of non-native trees in South Africa?

O14: I. Barnes, M.J. Wingfield, R.E. Bradshaw. A Forest Pathology community project: The Dothistroma needle blight story.