FABI was honoured to receive a visit by the renowned forest pathologist and invasion biologist Prof. Alberto Santini from the Institute for Sustainable Plant Protection, in the National Research Council of Italy located in the city of Florence. He is also the former PhD advisor of FABI Postdoctoral Fellow, Dr Duccio Migliorini.

Dr Santini was on a visit to the country to attend an International Plant Sentinel Workshop and establish a reciprocal programme between South Africa and Italy. This international initiative uses sentinel plants or plantations to detect, in advance, new pests and pathogens entering countries. 

He also presented a special seminar at FABI entitled “Dutch elm disease in Italy, studies on its possible management”. This devastating disease of elm trees is caused by four Ophiostoma species. Dr Santini’s work has focused on ways of saving these iconic trees through breeding for resistance and biological control of the pathogen.