The director of FABI, Prof. Mike Wingfield, was informed during last week that he has been awarded the Distinguished Leadership Award for Internationals for 2016, by his alma mater, the University of Minnesota.
The Forest Molecular Genetics Programme (FMG) within FABI participated in the "Take a Girl Child to Work" day on Thursday 26 May.
During the past week, a group of 15 Sappi staff members from the Mpumalanga region, under the guidance of Duncan Ballantyne, Fire Risk Manager for Sappi at Ngodwana, visited FABI. Prof. At FABI on the main campus, Izette Greyling, extention officer for the TPCP programme, explained to the group how the programme in FABI is linked to day-to-day forestry practices in the field with the ultimate aim of combatting fungal and insect pests and reducing their impact. Darryll Herron, manager of the TPCP diagnostic clinic, explained to the guests how diseased plant material sent to FABI for diagnosis, is treated upon arrival here. Feedback from the group was extremely positive and they had many questions.
Eager young minds from schools across different provinces made their way to a stall attended to by four FABIans at the 2016 Junior Tukkie/PMA Agri-Food Career Fair at the University of Pretoria on 21 and 22 May. The career fair is an initiative of the Produce Marketing Association, the UP Faculty of Natural & Agricultural Sciences, JuniorTukkie and the UP Graduate Career office.
Following a successful two-day symposium on global tree health, Professors Ying Zhang and Wei He presented special seminars at FABI on May 19. Led by FABI Extraordinary Lecturer Dr. Prof.
The introductory phylogenetics workshop, organised by Inqaba Biotech, was held at FABI from 10 - 13 May 2016. A second phylogenetics workshop will be presented from 7-11 November 2016.
The Tree Protection Co-operative Programme (TPCP) hosted its 27th annual meeting at the University of Pretoria on 17 and 18 May. FABI Director, Professor Mike Winfield chaired the programme, which brought together speakers from Canada, New Zealand, Malaysia, South Africa and the United States. Prof. Prof. It has proven difficult to prevent the introduction of pests and disease because of the illicit pest trade, tourism as well as the movement of untreated wood products and in some cases, bioterrorism. Drs Jeremy Allison of Natural Resources Canada and FABI research fellow Almuth Hammerbacher explored the little-known field of chemical ecology – the study of plants’ own defences against insects and diseases – in their respective presentations and how it has gained traction over the years. In her presentation titled: “Update on Fusarium circinatum research in South Africa”, Prof. Gert van den Berg spoke about the strategies Mondi had adopted to reduce the impact of insects and pathogens on its plantations and the effects of extreme climatic conditions. Dr. PhD student Joey Hulbert spoke about the exciting prospects of an active citizenry that is empowered to spot pests and disease. A complete list of all the presenters and the titles of their presentations is available here.
Presentations on the first day of the annual meeting of the DST-NRF Centre of Excellence in Tree Health Biotechnology (CTHB) at the University of Pretoria reflected the diversity of research conducted by students and staff of the CTHB. Deputy Director of the CTHB, Prof. Prof. Sunet van Aswegen of Rhodes University explored the role of mycorrhizal fungi in Vachellia erioloba in her talk: “Microbial interactions of camel thorn trees”. Ronel Roberts of the ARC spoke about diseases affecting citrus such as a citrus greening disease in: “Variability amongst ‘Candidatus liberibacter africanus’ populations of citrus in South Africa”.
Elsie Cruywagen presented her prestige seminar at FABI on May 13 in front of her friends, family and colleagues before undergoing and passing her PhD oral examination. FABI director and primary supervisor Prof. She found that the largest group of fungi isolated from baobab trees were the Botryosphaeriaceae represented by an assembly of different species, some of which produced lesions in pathogenicity trials. Elsie has already published three research papers from her PhD. Cruywagen EM, Crous PW, Roux J, Slippers B, Wingfield MJ. Crous PW, Wingfield MJ, Guarro J, Cheewangkoon R, van der Bank M, Swart WJ, Stchigel AM, Cano-Lira JF, Roux J, Madrid H, Damm U, Wood AR, Shuttleworth LA, Hodges CS, Munster M, de Jesús Yáñez-Morales M, Zúñiga-Estrada L, Cruywagen EM, et al. Cruywagen EM, De Beer ZW, Roux J, Wingfield MJ.
FABIans were treated to a special seminar by renowned forest pathologist, Prof. Drawing on years of research in the areas of forest pathology and the management of forest tree diseases, Prof. Following his seminar he was hosted on a visit to the FABI biocontrol facility where Prof.
Seminar by visiting PhD student shines the spotlight on public perceptions about genetically engineered trees
Scientists hope that genetic engineering approaches will revive Castanea dentata, the American Chestnut. American Chestnut blight has contributed to the expansive death of the trees, which are not only economically important but are also socially and culturally significant. Katie is visiting the Forest Molecular Genetics research group and other departments at the University of Pretoria as she explores these themes of her research by focusing on genetically modified trees in South Africa and New York State.
On 5 and 6 May the Ceratocystis Genome Jamboree was held in the Bioinformatics computer centre at FABI.
FABI welcomed a group of tree growers from Argentina visiting South Africa to acquaint themselves with the local forestry industry. FABI entomologist Dr.
As the challenges we face in the world, and especially in Africa, become more complex, a different style of science leadership is required. Prof Bernard Slippers, who leads the Future Africa and ASLP initiatives at UP said that: “It is a feather in the cap of the University of Pretoria that it has so successfully supported the establishment of this programme, in collaboration with leading global institutions. The eight-day ASLP workshop commenced on 11 April and focused on the new group of twenty-two fellows for the first 6 days of the intensive programme. Professor Derick de Jongh, the Director of the Albert Luthuli Centre for Responsible Leadership at UP joined the workshop on day one as a provocateur. The leadership programme identifies early-career academics who have demonstrated leadership potential and an interest in developing key leadership skill. The workshop covered elements of collective leadership, creative and systems thinking, development of effective networks, stakeholder engagement for change, maximising the efficiency and impact of collaborative efforts, advanced dialogue and communication skills, effective problem solving and decision making, and much more. The programme aims to, within Africa, continue the formation of a community of like-minded researchers who possess qualities that will contribute towards solving the complex challenges that face Africa. “The ASLP initiative gave me an unexpected new vision of what leadership is, and our collective roles in the development of African science.
The second FABI monthly tea hosted by the 2016 FABI Social Club was held in the FABI courtyard on May 4.
With winter fast approaching, contributions to the annual FABI Blanket Drive have been filling up the FABI reception area. The annual FABI Blanket Drive is headed by Prof.
Wearing his IUFRO "hat", FABI Director Professor Mike Wingfield spent three days during the week of 20 April with colleagues at the IUFRO Headquarters in Vienna.
Monday 25 April at 15h00 and a historic moment for the University of Pretoria, for Science in Africa and for FABI. At the sod turning ceremony, University of Pretoria Principal and Vice-Chancellor Prof. Although this need for trans-disciplinary research is recognised globally, there is still a shortage of spaces that encourage and enable collaboration of scientists from different disciplines. In his address at the event Bernard made the point that: "Future Africa will first and foremost be a people and team-centred space that is focused on developing the future generation of leaders and research teams and networks on the continent. Numerous activities of Future Africa will be very closely aligned with research projects in FABI and they will build on the cross-disciplinary vision and team approach to research that has underpinned the remarkable 18-year history of FABI. A short video of the ceremony can be viewed here.
The annual board meeting of the International Mycological Association (IMA) took place on Saturday 18 April 2016, in Utrecht, The Netherlands. The IMA is the overarching body for all mycological associations across the world and acts as custodian of the four-yearly International Mycological Congress (IMC).
Dr Ritesh Mewalal, a postdoctoral research associate at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORLN) and a recent FABI PhD graduate, reunited with his FABI family to deliver a special seminar on April 22. Dr Mewalal completed his PhD degree under the supervision of Prof.
During his visit to Finland Prof.
From 13 to 15 April the Annual Symposium of the Centraalbureau voor Schimmelcultures (CBS) took place at the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences (KNAW) in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. From 13 to 15 April the Annual Symposium of the Centraalbureau voor Schimmelcultures (CBS) took place at the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences (KNAW) in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. This meeting, organized by the CBS under the leadership of their director and FABI extraordinary professor Pedro Crous, has become one of the
Prior to the annual Spring symposium of the Centraalbureau voor Schimmelcultures (CBS) based in Utrecht, the Netherlands, a group of Fusarium researchers gathered in Utrecht to develop the core structures of a new global Fusarium Research Centre. The International Centre for Fusarium Research will have Prof.
Forty postgraduate students affiliated with FABI were awarded their degrees at the Autumn Graduation Ceremony of the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences on April 18. FABI applauds the 12 PhD, 14 MSc and 25 BSc Honours graduates capped on the day. Listed below are the graduates and the titles of their dissertations as well as the Honours students with projects in FABI over the past year.
FABI Director and IUFRO President, Prof.
Two Grade 7 students from Irene Primary School have been working in the FABI laboratories again. Last year these smart and aspiring young scientists received a Gold Medal at the Expo for Young Scientists for their project entitled "Testing the susceptibility of different sweet potato varieties to the black rot fungus, Ceratocystis fimbriata", and also won the Merck Junior Microbiology prize.
Professor Jeremy McNeil of the Department of Biology at the University of Western Ontario in Canada presented a special seminar at FABI on April 13. http://www.
FABI hosted a meeting of the Forest Invasive Species Network for Africa (FISNA) aimed at revitalising the network’s activities and stimulate communication and networking between all persons and official bodies engaged in forest pest and invasive species research in sub-Saharan Africa. The meeting was headed by Dr. FISNA was established in 2004 by the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) to coordinate the collation and dissemination of information relating to forest invasive species in sub-Saharan Africa for sustainable forest management and conservation of biodiversity. FISNA’s objectives are to: - Facilitate exchange of information and provide a link for communication about forest invasive species - Alert and provide policy advice on trans-boundary movement, phytosanitary measures and other relevant information. - Raise regional awareness on forest invasive species issues. - Encourage the publication and sharing of research results, management and monitoring strategies. - Facilitate taxonomic support. - Act as a link between and among experts, institutions, networks and other stakeholders concerned with forest invasive species. - Facilitate the mobilisation of resources for critical activities in management of invasive species. - Provide technical guides on research and control of invasive species for sustainable forest protection and health issues in Africa.
Several members of FABI’s management committee were among the “academic stars” honoured at the University of Pretoria’s Academic Achievers’ Awards function on April 5.
The first FABI tea organised by the new 2016 Social Club was held at the Institute on April 6. The Easter egg-themed tea party was sponsored by supplier of scientific and laboratory equipment, Lasec.
Seven papers including contributions from seven FABI authors were published last week as part of a Special Issue on the Biological Invasions of Insects in the journal Biological Invasions. First author papers included contributions from Prof. Mike Wingfield on insects and microbes as drivers of forest pestilence, from Dr. Jeff Garnas on the ecological, evolutionary and management consequences of complex global movement of invasive insects, and from Dr. Brett Hurley on the increasing rate of intr
Building capacity in Africa: FABI hosts a workshop on the Biological Control of Eucalyptus Insect Pests
During the week of 29 March – 1 April FABI hosted a workshop on the Biological Control of Eucalyptus Insect Pests. The workshop, organised by Dr Brett Hurley, Dr Michelle Schröder and Ms Samantha Bush, gathered 15 participants from Malawi, Mozambique, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe to share knowledge and build capacity and collaborative networks within the region.
A delegation from the New Forests Company (NFC) visited FABI on 31 March to better acquaint themselves with the Institute’s work in forestry-related research. The team was led by NFC’s Head of Business development, Phillip Hird and accompanied by Head of Forests, Anton Greeff and Head of Planning, Tim Ross.
Members of the MPPI group in FABI participated in a Farmers Day for small-holder maize farmers at PANNAR SEED Pty (Ltd) in Greytown. MSc student Katrien De Ridder from the group of Prof. The MPPI team also crisscrossed KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape with PANNAR collaborators, evaluating maize hybrids for disease resistance. UP’s involvement in these kinds of public-private partnerships are bringing hybrid seed and improved production practices that are contributing to the “A green evolution in Africa” recently featured in an upbeat article in The Economist.
Plans are afoot to rollout Wi-Fi to lecture halls at the University of Pretoria. Kleynhans was one of three speakers at the talk hosted by the Scital Forum, a science initiative on teaching and learning. Chief Innovation and Information Officer at Project Isizwe, James Devine spoke about how the non-profit organisation had partnered with the City of Tshwane to bring Wi-Fi access to disadvantaged communities in the city.
Our world is faced with a myriad of complex problems. These were some of the questions addressed during two meetings attended by Prof. The first was a workshop jointly organised by the International Network for Government Science Advice (INGSA) and the Academy of Science of South Africa on Science Advice for African Scientists, had as its theme "enhancing capacities in providing science advice to governments". Learn more and see resources on Science Advice to Governments on the INGSA website, and join if you are interested! Subsequent to this Bernard also attended the meeting of the IAP: Global Network of Science Academies conference and general assembly that happens once every three years. For more information on the conference click here. A short report of the event is available here.