29 Aug 2016

Centre of Excellence Directors meet in Durban

The Annual Meeting of the Department of Science and Technology-National Research Foundation Centre’s of Excellence was hosted by the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal on Thursday 25th and Friday 26th August.


29 Aug 2016

IUFRO President meets with international forestry students

The International Forestry Students Association (IFSA) held their annual International Forestry Students Symposium (IFSS) in Austria from 7-23 August. As part of the IFSS proceedings, FABI Director and IUFRO President, Prof. Mike Wingfield participated in two events.


26 Aug 2016

FABIans co-author a paper in Nature Plants

This year has been designated as the International Year of Pulses (grain legumes) by the 68th UN General Assembly.


25 Aug 2016

FABIans visit the Biocontrol Facility

Twenty FABI post-graduate students and staff took the opportunity to visit the FABI Biocontrol facility on the UP experimental farm on Friday 19 August. Facility manager, Prof.


19 Aug 2016

Science Olympiads battle it out at FAME Club seminars

True to its focus on trending issues, this week’s FAME Club seminars in FABI paid homage to the 2016 Rio Olympic Games currently on in Brazil. Catherine Tatham’s presentation on research on long-term contraceptive solutions, titled “Do bonking bunnies hold the answer to the future of contraception” was delivered in less than three minutes and was voted the best by the audience.


18 Aug 2016

Dr. ShuaiFei Chen awarded funding by the Chinese National Science Fund for Excellent Young Scholars

Dr. The NSFC set up the Excellent Young Scholar Fund in 2012 to promote the rapid development of young Chinese scientists and to train a group of excellent young scientists to enter the forefront of world science and technology. ShuaiFei joined FABI in 2007 where he completed his PhD degree in 2011, followed by post-doctoral fellowships at the Institute and later in the USA.


18 Aug 2016

FABIans judge at the 2016 Northern Gauteng Senior Science Fair

Building a career in science takes time and usually starts at a young age. The Expo gives budding young scientists and engineers the opportunity to showcase their talent.


16 Aug 2016

Science trumps magic at 2016 National Science Week!

The Outreach team from the DST-NRF Centre of Excellence in Tree Health Biotechnology (CTHB) at FABI travelled to Piet Retief, Mpumalanga, on 9 August to participate in the annual National Science Week fair. By the end of each experiment, the learners were convinced that science, not magic or trickery, explained the phenomena unfolding before their eyes. The CTHB team showed the learners how to use mathematics to outsmart their friends in a game of cards and also simplified exothermic reactions in chemistry by using hydrogen peroxide, dishwashing liquid, food colouring and yeast to create fluorescent “volcanoes” which erupted in front of their eyes! An initiative of the Department of Science and Technology, NSW events are held over five days across all nine provinces.


12 Aug 2016

FABI celebrates sixth PhD in 2016

FABI congratulates Alexander Osorio on the successful defence of his PhD thesis during his oral examination on 10 August. His thesis, titled:  Diseases of mangrove trees in South Africa, was a unique project as FABI had never before worked on mangrove tree species and it therefore presented some unique challenges. PUBLICATIONS FROM HIS THESIS Osorio JA, Wingfield MJ, de Beer ZW, Roux J. Osorio JA, Wingfield MJ, Roux J.  


12 Aug 2016

Colombian Ambassador attends FABI Prestige Seminar

FABI was honoured to receive a visit by the Colombian Ambassador to South Africa, Her Excellency, Dr Maria Eugenia Correa Olarte on the occasion of Alexander Osorio’s PhD prestige seminar on 10 August.


12 Aug 2016

Special Seminar by Prof Tsopelas

The world renown forest pathologist, Prof. Panos Tsopelas, presented a special seminar at FABI titled: Canker stain disease: a major threat to natural stands of Platanus orientalis in the Balkan Peninsula.


11 Aug 2016

FABIan spends two months at VIB in Belgium on research visit

Danielle Rood, a Ph. After receiving the RNA-seq data required for the largest part of her analyses, Danielle applied for, and was awarded, the University of Pretoria Postgraduate Study Abroad Bursary that funded the largest part of her research visit. VIB is a large research institute, with some 1,500 research staff, employees and students from more than 60 countries worldwide.


11 Aug 2016

Robert Bosch Stiftung funds the attendance of two FABIans at ESOF16

Two FABIans, Ms. ESOF16 had more than 150 sessions, 700 speakers and was attended by approximately 4,500 individuals from more than 90 countries. In addition to the talks at ESOF16, emerging researchers including the FABI team members had the opportunity to enjoy lunch with a distinguished scientist and have an informal discussion about their careers, advice for emerging researchers etc. The conference ended on Wednesday evening with the closing ceremony highlighting events of the past few days. Danielle and Gudrun thank the Robert Bosch Stiftung for making their participation at this event possible.


5 Aug 2016

FMG hosts an R statistics workshop

The Forest Molecular Genetics (FMG) Programme hosted an eight-day training workshop on R statistics, quantitative genetics and genomic selection from 25 July to 3 August in Hilton in the KwaZulu-Natal Province.


4 Aug 2016

Fabians attend the European Plant Biology Congress 2016 in Prague

Prof. Noelani van den Berg and Dr Bridget Crampton recently attended the European Plant Biology EPSO/FESB Congress from 26 -30 June in Prague in the Czech Republic.


30 Jul 2016

FABI scientists participate in IUFRO task force workshop on forest biological invasions

Two FABIans, Dr Brett Hurley and Prof. Mike Wingfield joined approximately 60 scientists from all over the world for a workshop of the IUFRO Biological Invasions Task Force in the USA.


29 Jul 2016

Fabians attended the IS-MPMI XVII Congress in Portland

The International Society for Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions (IS-MPME) congress was held in Portland, Oregon from 17-21 July 2016. Professor Dave Berger, research leader of the Molecular Plant-Pathogen Interactions research group was invited to give a talk entitled “Integration of resistance QTL, expression QTL and co-expression modules reveals molecular responses of maize to the fungal pathogen Cercospora zeina” and also presented two posters. Other researchers representing South Africa at the congress were Prof.


28 Jul 2016

The CTHB Tree Disease Treasure Hunt

Grade 10 learners taking part in the CTHB Tree Disease Treasure Hunt at FABI on July 23 needed a combination of smarts, speed and sweat to complete the challenge and claim their prizes. The learners, who are in their first year of the UP and JuniorTukkie’s science enrichment programme UP with Science, were mentored by staff and students in the CTHB.


23 Jul 2016

New bacterium discovered by FABI research team named after Kirstenbosch 

On 7 July Anthony Hitchcock, Nursery, Living Collections and Threatened Species Manager at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, hosted a small function where Prof. Fanus Venter (CTHB / Department of Microbiology and Plant Pathology) had the opportunity to hand over a copy of a publication in which a new bacterial species was named after the gardens.


20 Jul 2016

FABI scientist presents at IBWS in France

Prof. Teresa Coutinho presented an invited paper entitled “Bacterial wilt of Eucalyptus: an example of opportunism" at the 6th International Bacterial Wilt Symposium (IBWS) held in Toulouse, France, from the 3-7 July 2016.


14 Jul 2016

Visiting US student sparks debate on ethics of GMO research

On a transcontinental trip to research current debates on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in different countries, an undergraduate student from the Weinberg College of Arts and Science at Northwestern University, Tara Mittelberg visited FABI on July 12. Tara said Americans were polarised in their opinions on GMOs and her project sought to explore the nuances of these different arguments around the world, especially in relation to global food security. Debaters agreed that knowledge transfer and science communication were crucial to the public, policy makers as well as consumers and influenced their opinions of GMOs.


13 Jul 2016

Superheroes (and murderous plants) come to life at SPOOF 2016!

With an animated character theme evoking childhood memories and fantasies, this year’s installation of the Society for the Presentation of Outrageous Findings (SPOOF) was bound to be a barrel of laughs. Stand-out presentations, voted for by FABIans, were “CRISPER: An accurate and versatile took for engineering longevity in failing plant systems” by Darryl Herron as Ace Ventura, Plant Detective and the short film “Little Lab of Horrors” by the Plant Virology group, which bagged the Best Oral Presentation and Best Multimedia Presentation awards respectively. FABIans voted Quentin Guignard Best Dressed Male for his uncanny transformation as eerie villain The Joker. The Spoof 2016 photo gallery can be viewed here.


8 Jul 2016

Grade 12 learner job shadows at FABI

FABI welcomes Bianca Murray, a Grade 12 learner at Moore House Academy in Johannesburg, as she makes the institute her home for the duration of her school holidays.


6 Jul 2016

Future “plant doctors” represent the CTHB in UP with Science Winter Week

Five Grade 11 learners participating in JuniorTukkie and the University of Pretoria’s science enrichment programme, UP with Science, once again joined forces with FABI’s DST-NRF Centre of Excellence in Tree Health Biotechnology (CTHB) to experience hands-on scientific research unlike what they are taught  at school! The learners in the CTHB group delivered their presentation, “The life and times of Syzygium and Eucalyptus: From a small wound to a dead tree”, which they had prepared under the supervision of Dr Markus Wilken and postgraduate students Juanita Avontuur, Arista Fourie, Palesa Madupe and Benedicta Swalarsk-Parry. Nine departments in the Faculty of Natural Agricultural Sciences took part in the UP with Science programme and they were represented by different groups of Grade 11 learners.


1 Jul 2016

Prof Dave Berger the latest FABI researcher to receive a prestigious NSTF award

Research leader of the Molecular Plant-Pathogen Interactions group, Prof. Dave Berger, was awarded the National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF)-South32 special theme award at its annual awards evening on June 30.


25 Jun 2016

Mycology workshop in FABI a great success

During the past week 15 TPCP students in FABI participated in a Mycology workshop. The workshop was presented by a team of mycological experts from the National Collection of Fungi (PREM) and the Plant Protection Research Instistute (PPRI) at the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) and academic staff members at FABI.


21 Jun 2016

FABIans donate blankets and winter woollies to the homeless of Tshwane

About 200 blankets collected by staff and students at FABI as part of the institute’s Annual Blanket Drive have brought some warmth and comfort to homeless people in the suburbs surrounding the University.


15 Jun 2016

TPCP publication celebration

Champagne corks popped on 14 June when the TPCP research team in FABI celebrated the first, first-author publication of a degree, by seven postgraduate students in the group. The seven papers are listed below: Abate BA, Malan AP, Tiedt LR, Wingfield MJ, Slippers B, Hurley BP. Bush SJ, Slippers B, Neser S, Harney M, Dittrich-Schroder G. Beukes CW, Stepkowski T, Venter SN, Clapa T, Phalane FL, le Roux MM, Steenkamp ET. Kanzi AM, Wingfield BD, Steenkamp ET, Naidoo S, Van der Merwe NA. Maphosa MN, Steenkamp ET, Wingfield BD. Palmer M, De Maayer P, Poulsen M, Steenkamp ET, Van Zyl E, Coutinho TA, Venter SN. Wondafrash M, Slippers B, Garnas J, Roux G, Foit J, Langor DW, Hurley BP.


15 Jun 2016

FABI Researcher instrumental in wining the fight against grapevine leafroll disease

While grapevine leafroll disease has been controlled for decades within the South African Vine Certification Scheme, where virus-free nuclear stocks of vine cultivars are produced following heat-therapy and meristem tip culture, such material remains susceptible to viral infection and often progeny from the nuclear plants, planted in the field become infected again. Prof. The Vergelegen team, led by Managing Director Don Tooth and winemaker Andre van Rensburg, worked closely with Prof.


10 Jun 2016

USA and CTHB Fusarium researchers visit the University of Venda

Professors John Leslie, David Geiser, Emma Steenkamp and Dr Martin Coetzee visited the School of Agriculture at the University of Venda in the Limpopo Province on 6 May 2016.


9 Jun 2016

FABI celebrates Sarai Olivier-Espejel’s successful completion of her PhD degree

FABI congratulates Sarai Olivier-Espejel for successfully defending her PhD thesis during her oral examination on June 7.


9 Jun 2016

Fusarium expert from Pennsylvania State University presents a special seminar

Following the 17th International Fusarium Laboratory Workshop this past week, Professor David Geiser presented a special seminar at FABI on June 8. His talk, “Two Fusarium Stories” focused on different aspects of the Fusarium species.


8 Jun 2016

Dr Peter Thrall delivers a special seminar at FABI

Dr Peter H. Thrall, a research scientist studying evolutionary ecology of host-microbe interactions at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in Australia, presented a special seminar titled “Coevolutionary interactions in the Linus-Melampsora host-pathogen system” at FABI on June 7th.


3 Jun 2016

Brenda Wingfield receives the Harry Oppenheimer Memorial Fellowship award

On Friday 3 June, Prof. Brenda Wingfield, one of FABI’s research leaders received the highly prestigious Harry Oppenheimer Memorial Fellowship Award made by the Oppenheimer Memorial Trust (OMT).


3 Jun 2016

Fusarium Workshop drums up a storm

A group of more than 40 delegates and instructors attending the 17th Annual Fusarium Workshop at FABI let their hair down and to enjoy a drumming session under the tutelage of the African Drum Café’s expert team.  


1 Jun 2016

Fusarium Laboratory Workshop hosted by FABI

The 17th International Fusarium Laboratory Workshop was hosted by FABI from 30 May - 3 June. This annual event, hosted by FABI for the second time (first was in 2004), brings together some of the world’s the leading authorities on this fungal genus species of which are important pathogen of plants, animals and humans.