Ms Luki-Marie Scheepers, a PhD student in the Applied Chemical Ecology research group in FABI, presented her and her co-authors’ work on the Pine Emperor moth, Nudaurelia clarki, at the prestigious Entomological Society of America (ESA) annual meeting ‘Entomology 2020’. Annual conferences like these are usually highly anticipated collaboration and networking events and this year was no different despite it being hosted virtually. The online platform empowered a global audience, from 51 countries, to watch a total of 87 symposia divided into sections including systematics, medical science, ecosystems and physiology. The symposium content was full of variety, ranging from how bumblebees cope with self-created heat, how a fly evades your swat on a neural level and so much more. This conference illustrates the grit and innovation of researchers worldwide to continue networking, collaborating, innovating and working towards a finding answers for real-world problems despite a gripping global restriction on movement.
FABIans celebrated their stellar achievements in 2020 and toasted to new partnerships on 21 November at the first virtual year-end function.
Eight FABI researchers were honoured at the University of Pretoria Academic Achievers Award event on 25 November. Professors Fanus Venter and Dave Berger were both honoured with the Exceptional Academic Achievers Award.
Drs David Nsibo and Mahlane Godfrey Kgatle in the Grain Research Program (GRP) planted the first maize cultivar trials and configured a weather station on 19 November at Rocky Park Farm in Ugie, Eastern Cape.
Mike Wingfield once again included on the 2020 Clarivate Web of Science Highly Cited Researchers list
FABI congratulates Prof. Mike Wingfield, Founding Director of the Institute for being included on the 2020 Clarivate Web of Science Highly Cited Researchers list - the fourth consecutive year he has achieved this status.
Professor Bernard Slippers, Director of FABI and Prof. Mike Wingfield recently visited the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Pretoria to receive a gift of a large number of protective face masks from the newly-appointed Minister Counselor (Science and Technology), Mr Shen Long.
November has been a good month for staff and students at FABI. FABI celebrates the achievements of the following five students who received awards in various categories.
During the week of 9 November, a FABI team including Prof. Mike Wingfield, Prof. Brenda Wingfield, Dr Trudy Paap, Dr Mesfin Gossa and Dr Hiroyuki Suzuki visited botanical gardens in the Western Cape Province.
FABI’s Monday Morning Meeting returned to the auditorium on 16 November after an eight month break, using a newly-installed webcam to host a “hybrid meeting” on the usual Zoom platform.
FABI field extension officer Sandisiwe Jali is profiled in an article “Role models for the future of forestry” in Forestry South Africa’s (FSA) October newsletter.
The end of October saw the first intentional introductions of the parasitoid wasp Quadrastichus mendeli.
FABI scientists present their research at prestigious international plant synthetic biology conference
While a pandemic has brought world travel to a near halt, the international scientific community has shown remarkable resilience in our ability to connect with one another virtually and share research updates at international conferences.
FABI postdoctoral Fellow Dr Godfrey Kgatle chaired a national maize cultivar evaluation trial (MCET) lecture on 3 November. SANSOR and Grain SA are key players in the trials and their relationship with FABI as well as with partners in academia, government and the grain industry culminated in the launch of the Grain Research Programme in August. FABIans have, since 2019, helped to sort and pack seeds for the national maize cultivar evaluation trials.
Arthropod genomics and their applications on plant health explored in the sixth installment of the FABI International Seminar Series
Renowned insect genomics expert Professor Robert Waterhouse presented the sixth lecture in the FABI International Seminar Series on 29 October.
When you think of the southern Cape, you think of the Tsitsikamma: long beaches and the rolling mountains that follow the N2 freeway. In addition to collecting these important logs team members, Prof.
Some of the most impressive, and in fact some of the earliest, clonal eucalypt plantations can be found on the KwaZulu-Natal Coast of South Africa.
The Avocado Research Programme (ARP) in FABI hosted its annual Student Presentation Day on 15 October.
During the week of 5-9 October the members of the Tree Protection Co-operative (TPCP) in FABI conducted the first national monitoring field trip for this year. The survey of these pests, during two seasons per year, aims to evaluate parasitism levels over time, between different Eucalyptus hosts and between different Eucalyptus growing regions of South Africa. The monitoring trips will continue into December, and include Limpopo, central Mpumalanga and lowveld, southern KZN and midlands, and the Eastern Cape.
Relatively regular reports of trees dying in various parts of Gauteng have emerged during the course of the past five years. One of the areas where trees have been reported dying is in the Hennops river valley, where especially white stinkwood (Celtis africana) and karee (Searsia lancea) are most seriously affected.
Congratulations to Prof. Wilhelm de Beer who was awarded this year’s Distinguished Forestry Award by the Southern African Institute of Forestry (SAIF).
During the week of 5 October and three months after these inoculations, Tanay, along with FABIans Josephine Queffelec and Matthew Jackson, harvested this trial with the assistance of Sappi's scientific and non-scientific staff members.
A video interview with FABI founding Director, Professor Mike Wingfield has been published online on the YouTube channel of the National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF). Click here to watch the full video
The fifth presentation in FABI’s popular International Seminar Series was by Prof. Katherine also spoke about the Global Burden of Crop Loss, an initiative she is participating in that is modelled after the Global Burden of Disease initiative in human health, which has transformed health policy research, over the last 25 years through better use of data. Click here to view the Global Burden of Crop Loss presentation.
Congratulations to 20 graduates affiliated with FABI whose degrees were conferred at the University of Pretoria’s virtual Spring Graduation Ceremony on 29 September.
A team of students and interns from theTPCP and CPHB in FABI, took on the mammoth task of packaging a large number maize seed cultivars.
During the week of 21 September, University of Pretoria (UP) Vice Chancellor and Principal, Prof. Tawana Kupe visited York Timbers in Sabie, accompanied by Prof. Bernard Slippers, Prof. Mike Wingfield (FABI) and Prof. Wynand Steyn (UP Department of Civil Engineering).
From the mystical to the culinary, FABIans went on a sensory trip down memory lane and around the world in celebration of their living heritage as South Africa marked National Heritage Day on 24 September.
In the study recently published in Molecular Ecology by Mostert-O’Neill et al., the population structure and patterns of genetic differentiation of E. grandis was determined in terms of neutral and adaptive genetic diversity in 596 individuals sampled from 32 provenances covering the natural species range.
A film team visited FABI on 16 September to record an interview with Prof.
FABI labs are buzzing again with activity, albeit within strict schedules to manage the number of people in the building and to adhere to safety regulations during the COVID-19 lockdown.
Early in 2020, Dr Andi Wilson and her PhD supervisors published a paper in the journal Fungal Genetics and Biology that detailed the knockout of a novel mating gene in Huntiella omanensis using the CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing system. The video represents a new way of communicating research - particularly novel techniques and protocols that are not always fully described in research papers. Excitingly, the video produced for this project is the first JoVE video to have been shot in Africa.
On 3 September, Dr Gerda Fourie, research leader of the Macadamia Protection Programme (MPP) and Prof. Zander Myburg, research leader of the Forest Molecular Genetics (FMG) Programme participated in a live webinar.
The launch of the trans-disciplinary York Timbers Chair in Data-Driven, Wood Structural Engineering for a Sustainable Built Environment and African Bioeconomy is a step closer following the signing of a funding agreement between the University of Pretoria (UP) and York Timbers.
On 2 September, several FABIans that form part of the bark beetle mycobiome research network took part in their 9th virtual meeting.
FABI launched the Remote Sensing of Plant Health satellite laboratory with the University of Ghent in Belgium and the Artificial Intelligence in Farming satellite laboratory with Université de Québec à Montréal in Canada on 7 September.
FABI MSc student Ingrid Marais attended the National Association of Plant Breeders (NAPB) 2020 annual meeting thanks to a South-African Plant Breeders Association (SAPBA) sponsorship.