The Southern African Institute of Forestry (SAIF) celebrated its 50th Birthday at a special dinner function at the Pretoria Botanical Gardens on 16 May. SAIF is an association of forestry practitioners geared towards delivering a professional service to forestry in South Africa. The dinner was attended by two of the original founding members of the Institute and a number of other SAIF members working in forestry and forest research from across the country. Also in attendance were some overseas g
Opportunities for trailblazing research discussed on the second day of the 29th annual meeting of the TPCP
Presentations and discussions on the second and last day of the 29th Annual Meeting of the Tree Protection Co-operative Programme on 16 May followed up on the varying areas of research that arise from the ongoing battle with insect pests and pathogens affecting tree health. Speakers highlighted the creativity, innovation and opportunities for collaborations that drive programmes such as the TPCP.
The invasive and aggressive Polyphagous Shot Hole Borer (PSHB) was discovered killing trees in South Africa by FABI Postdoctoral Fellow Dr Trudy Paap in 2017. This has prompted FABI to take a lead in identifying the extent of the outbreak and its impact on indigenous, forestry and ornamental tree species.
FABI Postdoctoral Fellow Dr Trudy Paap was one of 82 South African botanical artists invited to exhibit their work portraying indigenous plants species at the Botanical Art Worldwide Exhibition being held at the Everard Reid Gallery in Rosebank, Johannesburg from 17 May – 9 June. The exhibition is being hosted by the Botanical Artists Association of South Africa of which Trudy is a member.
Tree health specialists converge on the University of Pretoria for the 29th annual meeting of the TPCP
Tree health experts shared the stage with researchers and forestry industry stakeholders at the 29th annual meeting of the Tree Protection Co-operative (TPCP) Programme at the University of Pretoria on 15 and 16 May.
Collaborators, researchers and core team members of the CTHB celebrate the programme’s successes at its 14th annual meeting
The DST-NRF Centre of Excellence in Tree Health Biotechnology (CTHB) hosted its 14th annual meeting at FABI on 14 May. This marked the first of three days dedicated to discussions about keeping trees healthy. Research by students at different institutions that form part of the CTHB dominated the proceedings on the day. Two guest speakers from Australia and the United States highlighted some problems affecting indigenous trees in their respective countries.
More than 30 postgraduate students affiliated with FABI were awarded their degrees at the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences’ Autumn Graduation ceremonies in April.
A team of 13 FABIans conducted a survey to determine infestation levels of the Polyphagous Shothole Borer on street and garden trees in the Johannesburg suburb of Hurlingham on 4 May.
Danielle Roodt, a PhD student in the FMG Research Programme and FABI, has been awarded an American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB) Travel Award to attend and present her research at the upcoming Plant Biology Conference, a joint meeting of the ASPB, Canadian Society of Plant Biologists and the International Society of Photosynthesis Research.
Following his presentation at the meeting of the South African Society for Microbiology where he was an invited speaker, Dr Ramon Rosselló-Móra presented a special seminar at FABI on 13 April. His talk provided details on his group’s surprising findings in extreme saline habitats such as salterns, where the salt content sometimes rivals that of seawater.
FABI, together with the CIB (DST-NRF Centre of Excellence for Invasion Biology), hosted a public seminar on the disastrous effect of the PSHB and its fungus on trees in South Africa.
Associate Professor Sanushka Naidoo, received a Next Einstein Forum (NEF) Fellow Award. The award resembles the Ishango Bones that were discovered in the Ishango region of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Professor Naidoo presented a spotlight talk displaying her work in forest tree resilience and the role of plant biotechnology in addressing food security. As part of her NEF Fellowship (2017-2019), Prof.
The Ethics, Gender and Sexuality Symposium was held on 24 March at the University of Pretoria's Faculty of Health Sciences and was chaired by Prof Michael Pepper. Photo caption: From left to right: Prof MS Pepper, Ms B Jardim, Prof JA Nel, Prof G Lindeque, Dr G Grobler, Mrs M Crewe, Dr E Moshokua.
Professor Fanus Venter and the University of Pretoria hosted the South African Society of Microbiology (SASM) conference from 4-7 April at the Misty Hills Hotel and Conference Centre in Muldersdrift. Many FABIans attended, presenting a total of eight posters and eight oral presentations. (Photos by Kinosha Moodley, Andi Wilson, Claudette Dewing, Bernard Slippers and Dineo Mailula)
A special seminar by Professor Gilles Boeuf on 10 April drew attention to the dangers of climate change on biodiversity in different ecosystems around the world. Prof Boeuf discussed not only the effects of climate change such as drought and melting glaciers but also the role played by citizen scientists in sharing information about changes in their immediate environment.
The inaugural meeting of IUFRO Working Group 7. FABI presentations: Hurley B. Fraser S. Hurley B. (Photos supplied by the organisers of IUFRO Working Group 7.
Following the Easter weekend break, the Easter Bunny hopped into FABI on 4 April, leaving behind a trail of Easter eggs and some “rabbit food” for FABIans to nibble on and enjoy.
FABI is running the FABI Flower Drive, a yearlong campaign to collect sanitary products for girls at school who cannot afford them. The Institute will also resume its annual FABI Blanket Drive to deliver warm winter clothing and blankets to community organisations in the Tshwane municipality.
The Southern African Plant Breeders Association (SAPBA) held its 12th Symposium at Umhlanga last week with the theme “Big Data and Breeding Technologies”. Photo caption: DowDuPont Plant Sciences Symposium student presenters with keynote speaker Dr Geoff Graham, Vice-President, Global Plant Breeding, DowDuPontTM.
FABI welcomed a new crop of undergraduate mentorship students. The CTHB has run the mentorship programme alongside its outreach programmes for more than 10 years. The 2018 mentors are: Dr Albe van der Merwe; postdocs Drs Vuyiswa Bushula-Njah and Aquillah Kanzi as well as postgraduate students Tayo Adenigba, Miranda Erasmus, Ginna Granados, Darryl Herron, Angel Maduke, Mkhululi Maphosa, Wilma Nel, Nam Pham, Mmatshepho Phasha, Emeldah Rikhotso, Sydney Sithole, Benedicta Swalarsk-Parry, Ariska van der Nest and Andi Wilson.
The DST-NRF Centre of Excellence in Tree Health Biotechnology (CTHB) Outreach Team welcomed 18 eager and very energetic Grade 6 learners from Radford House Primary School along with their teacher, Mrs Talana Wilson, to FABI on Wednesday 28 February. With this theme in mind the Outreach team, comprising Juanita Avontuur, Benedicta Swalarsk-Parry, Angel Maduke, Modjadji Makwela and Fezile Mthunzi took on the role of inventing new superhero characters such as the Plant Doctors.
Two FABIans earned the title “Dr” last week after successfully defending their PhD theses and fulfilling all the requirements for a PhD degree. Drs Margot Otto and Collins Tanui presented their prestige seminars on 1 March and 2 March respectively, bringing the number of Ph.D. degrees completed at FABI in 2018 to six so far.
FABI welcomed Science and Technology Editor, Natasha Joseph and Environment and Energy Editor, Ozayr Patel from the online platform, The Conversation, on 26 February. Numerous FABIans have contributed editorials to this popular site including Prof Brenda Wingfield, FABI Director Prof Bernard Slippers and Smeetha Singh while a news item by Prof Wilhelm de Beer is in press.
FABI celebrated the fourth successful Ph. Marike’s supervisors were Proff Fanus Venter, Emma Steenkamp and Dr Martin Coetzee. The unique nature of bacterial species requires a pluralistic view of evolution.
FABI’s 20th anniversary year is off to a flying start with Felix Fru becoming the third FABIan to successfully defend his Ph. Felix’s supervisors were Proff Jolanda Roux, Mike Wingfield and Emma Steenkamp while the external examiners were Prof Julio J. Fusarium circinatum is an ascomycete fungus that is a pathogen of Pinus species and Douglas fir. The first report of this fungus in South Africa was from a forestry nursery in the Mpumalanga Province.
Always wanted to be part of the FABI team? Here's your chance!
An Ambrosia Beetle Working Group was established this week in a meeting between government officials and the research team at FABI, to co-ordinate research and efforts to reduce the impact of the Polyphagous Shothole Borer (PSHB) in South Africa.
FABI Director Prof Bernard Slippers, Dr Martin Coetzee and Ph. FABI has worked extensively on this group of fungi, characterising its diversity and distribution in other tree species, across South Africa, and even named some of the newly identified fungal species. While many see the Kruger Park as a place to see the Big Five, Elelwani saw it as a refuge for some populations of marula and false marula that were relatively undisturbed (except for elephants).
Prof. Paal Krokene, a globally recognised forest protection specialist from Norway, visited FABI along with his family on 20 February.
FABI celebrated two decades of research excellence with a science symposium held on 24-25 January in the Aula Theatre on the Hatfield Campus of the University of Pretoria. More than 300 FABI alumni, academics, Government and forestry industry representatives, as well as many current FABI researchers, staff and students, attended the two-day celebration, themed “The Road to Research Excellence”.
FABIans Mr. Tanay Bose, Ms. Modjadji Makwela and Dr. Almuth Hammerbacher presented their research on the first initiative to metabarcode mycorrhizal fungi associated with an endemic orchid, Habenaria barbertonii.
Johan van der Linde became this year’s second FABIan to successfully complete the requirements for this Ph.D. on 26 January.
FABI celebrated the completion of the first Ph.D. for 2018 on 23 January when Tanay Bose presented his Prestige Seminar “Phytophthora species diversity associated with native and non-native forests in South Africa” before successfully defending his thesis.
This week, the FABI team is looking forward to welcoming some 300 Alumni, invited guests, industry partners, scientific collaborators, government representatives, staff and students from around the globe to celebrate its 20th anniversary on 24-25 January.
During the past week, the TPCP/CTHB management committee had a strategic planning session at Kwalata Lodge.
FABIans gathered for a breakfast to celebrate the start of their academic year on 15 January.