Professor Lucy Moleleki and her PhD student, Edward Onkendi, attended and presented their research findings at the American Phytopathological Society (APS) meeting which was held from 1-5 August in the city of Pasadena, California, USA.
Five PhD and MSc students from FABI represented the DST-NRF Centre of Excellence in Tree Health Biotechnology (CTHB) at the National Science Week, an annual science fair for learners from 3-7 August 2015 in Piet Retief, Mpumalanga province. The FABI tent was run by Juanita Avontuur, Arista Fourie, Palesa Madupe, Benedicta Swalarsk-Parry and Markus Wilken. The team conducted a wide range of experiments showcasing knowledge in fields such as physics, biology and mathematics. A member of the team would break a glass tube with a hammer and then put theshards in a glassbowl filled with cooking oil. With the number of learners nearly twice of those who attended last year, the organisers said this year’s event was the most successful since its inception in 2007.
Two FABI PhD graduates, Drs Draginja Pavlic-Zupanc and Wubetu Bihon have been appointed Extraordinary Lecturers at the University of Pretoria. Their appointment as extraordinary lecturers sees them working together again with some of their former supervisors at FABI, Professors Bernard Slippers, Mike Wingfield, and Jolanda Roux on a three-year project. The aim of the project is to survey the distribution and diversity of Botryosphaeriaceae, which causes cankers on forest and fruit trees, in woody plants in China and South Africa.
We are seeking to recruit a motivated post-doctoral fellow to explore macroecological patterns of fungal diversity. The successful candidate would be required to start by the end of 2015. The University of Pretoria is one of Africa's leading research institutes as measured by the quality, diversity and extent of its research outputs. Interested candidates should contact Bernard Slippers (bernard. Deadline for applications is 30 August 2015.
The International Forestry Students’ Association (IFSA), the world’s major body connecting forestry students globally, meet in different countries of the world for their International Forestry Students Symposium (IFSS). Forestry students from many countries around the world, including seven South African delegates, attended this year’s IFSS and it was clear how important this forum has become to the world’s forestry agenda. Prof. The first of these was to provide IFSA students with some background regarding the activities of IUFRO and to highlight some of the key elements of a deep and growing collaboration between IFSA and IUFRO. His second goal was to share with the student delegates some views regarding the dynamic and rapidly changing global research environment. Prof. Mike also used the opportunity to hold discussions with IFSA President, May Anne Then and some members of her leadership team regarding opportunities to establish a robust and long-term international mentorship programme for forestry students. Photos Include: Mike Wingfield and May Anne Then (IFSA President) with South African student delegates (Thabo Ngubeni, Tatenda Mapeta, Lulrich Hechter, Daniel Boehnke, Heinrich Hecther and Mmetje (Trudy) Sebelebele); Heinrich Hechter with Mmetje (Trudy) Sebelebele presenting their talk on Leptocybe; a number of photos illustrating a nationally held earthquake evacuation practice session (the Philippines is preparing for the eventuality of a major earthquake in the future!
Dr Stephen Taerum, a post-doctoral Fellow at FABI, recently attended Botany 2015, which was a joint meeting between the Botanical Society of America, the Mycological Society of America and numerous other botanical and mycological societies. Stephen presented a poster, titled "Microsatellites and symbiont assemblages support different invasion histories for the red turpentine beetle, Dendroctonus valens," and a talk, titled "The worldwide movement of the fungus Leptographium procerum, symbiont of the red turpentine beetle".
The Gauteng branch of the Southern African Institute of Forestry (SAIF) held its annual general meeting at the FABI Auditorium on July 29. Gauteng SAIF members elected a new chairperson, Dr Steve Verryn, as well as new committee members including Prof. SAIF also honoured members who had served the association for 25 years and more. Dr Phillip Frost of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) accepted the Continuous Service Excellence Award on behalf of the Earth Observation Group for their work in the development of Advanced Fire Information System (AFIS) and their contribution to fire management in afforested areas. Director of the Albert Luthuli Centre for Responsible Leadership in the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences at the University of Pretoria, Prof. Prof de Jongh said responsible leadership in forestry meant finding interdisciplinary solutions with long-term effects that would also benefit future generations. As an example, he pointed out climate change as a challenge to forestry and scientists that could not be addressed without considering population growth as the "elephant in the room" and its effects on food security. He made the point that the conversation about leadership is framed in views of the past – who is to blame – and motivated why it should rather be framed in terms of the future – what is the future we want, and what do we need to do to get there. (Photo credits: Marc Raath)
Several FABIans joined in celebrating of the 110th anniversary of the South African National Fungi Collection (PREM). An open day was arranged to mark the anniversary and included a number of presentations by South African mycologists on their contributions to the National Collection of Fungi (NCF) and their knowledge of South African fungal biodiversity. Guests were welcomed by the Curator of the National Collection of Fungi (PREM), Dr Riaana Jacobs, who did her PhD some years ago at FABI. Visitors were given a tour of the Fungarium and shown type specimens of fungi, several supplied by FABI during their long association. Today PREM has more than 61000 specimens and 18000 living cultures dating back to the 1800s.
The Forest Molecular Genetics (FMG) Programme and FABI hosted a visit by a high level delegation, welcoming representatives from several Government departments and industry associations. The FMG Programme is one of the flagship genomics platforms funded by the Department of Science and Technology's (DST) Biotechnology Programme and the visit gave all delegates first hand insight into the research being conducted by the FMG at FABI. The delegates included the Deputy Director General: Technology Innovation of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Dr Mmboneni Muofhe as well as senior representatives from the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), Department of Public Enterprises (DPE), the University of Pretoria, Forestry South Africa, Sappi, the ARC and GrainSA. The DST is currently identifying suitable research platforms to fund under the new Bio-Economy Strategy and the FMG’s partnership is held up as one of the most successful partnering of University (academia), industry and Government institutions to conduct world-class scientific research. The guests were welcomed by the University of Pretoria’s Vice Principal for Institutional Planning, Prof Anton Ströh, while the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences was represented by the Deputy Dean of Research and Postgraduate Studies, Prof. FMG Director, Prof.
The 2015 Plant Pathology Joint Meeting: LV American Phytopathological Society-Caribbean Division (APS-CD); XVIII Latin American Phytopathological Association (ALF) and; XVII International Congress and XLII National Congress of the Mexican Society, was held in Mexico City, D. The four-strong South African contingency (see photo) at the congress included past and present Fabians, Profs Pedro Crous and Terry Aveling, as well as Drs Ewald Groenewald and Lorenzo Lombard. Terry Aveling: "Advances in seed treatment technology" Pedro Crous: "Are cryptic species real? Lorenzo Lombard: "Generic concepts in Nectriaceae" Ewald Groenewald: "Barcoding quarantine fungi: Lessons from the European QBOL project and Q-bank database"
The 19th annual meeting of the Society for the Presentation of Outrageous Findings (SPOOF) was held at Uitspan on the LC de Villiers sports ground of the University of Pretoria on July 24. Themed: "If I never became a scientist. Scientists presented their findings of varying absurdity, from the feeding and hoarding habits of a small population of Homo fabiensis to how Google searches revealed South Africans’ collective love for pizza and the attempts of superhero Mad Mike to save the last remaining research group in Africa. Awards were given to: - Andi Wilson for Best Dressed Female - Riaan Swanepoel for Best Dressed Male - The Molecular Plant Pathogen Interactions (MPPI) and Cereal Foliar Pathogen Research (CFPR) groups for the Best Oral Presentation - Bear Attenborough (aka Darryl Herron) for the Best Multimedia Presentation Professor Mike Wingfield congratulated all FABIans for staging another successful and fun SPOOF evening! See more photographs in our Galleries
After the success of the first DuPont Plant Breeding Symposium hosted in 2014, the University of Pretoria will again be hosting the symposium on 29 September 2015. The topic for this year’s symposium is "Current innovations in insect resistance management and pest control". All interested participants are invited to register online to attend or to view faculty, industry and student presentations. The deadline for Abstract submission is 3 August 2015 and we would like to encourage all FABIans to participate in this symposium.
The 2015 edition of the annual poster on South African forestry pests and diseases has been released as a supplement to the June issue of the SA Forestry Magazine. Copies of the poster can be ordered here. In addition to the poster, this month's issue of SA Forestry also contains an article (pdf attached) about the recent annual meetings of the Tree Protection Co-operative Program (TPCP) held at the University of Pretoria.
We recently reported on Prof.
FABI is thrilled to welcome back Prof. Treena Burgess, a longtime friend and collaborator of FABI, for a three week visit.
Between 28 June to 3 July 2015, FABI PhD student Osmond Mlonyeni had the privilege to attend the 65th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting in Germany as a Horst Köhler Fellow, following his nomination by the Global Young Academy and Robert Bosch Stiftung.
In an effort to better prepare their students for the important decision of choosing subjects for their final three years of school, Woodhill College in Pretoria requires Grade 9 pupils to partake in a work shadowing experience. Two learners from this school, Nadia Santosuosso and Lenschen Greyling with an interest in genetics, joined Danielle Roodt, Andi Wilson and Mariette Ferreira for some hands-on experience in the lab. They had a tour of the FABI facilities, did their own PCR, gel electroph
The Director of the Forest Molecular Genetics (FMG) Programme, Prof. Zander Myburg, has been awarded the prestigious TW Kambule – NSTF Award for research and outputs over the last 5-10 years by an individual. The award acknowledges his outstanding overall contribution to forest molecular genetics research, but in particular highlights the recent research from his group which has uncovered the genomic control of wood formation in fast-growing Eucalyptus trees.
FABI and the Department of Genetics welcomed plant molecular biologist Dr Nicky Creux who presented a special seminar entitled "The circadium rhythms regulating heliotropism, floral development and pollinator visits in Helianthus".
High school learners from various schools participating in the University of Pretoria’s UP with Science programme presented their mini-research projects to a packed auditorium at Sci-Enza. Under the supervision of Dr Martin Coetzee as well as PhD and MSc students in the DST-NRF Centre of Excellence in Tree Health Biotechnology (CTHB), six learners investigated the effects of disease and stress on plant life.
FABI congratulates Jeanne Korsman who presented her prestige seminar entitled "Molecular responses of maize to its foliar pathogen, Cercospora zeina" and passed the oral examination afterward.
Prof. David Collinge of the Department of Plant and Environmental Science at the University of Copenhagen presented a special seminar at FABI. His lecture was titled: "From transgenic plants to endophytic fungi: contrasting approaches to disease control in plant".
Professor Emma Steenkamp and PhD students Darryl Herron and Gerda Fourie attended the 16th Annual Fusarium workshop hosted at Kansas State University in Kansas, USA from 21-26 June 2015.
Dr. Marie-Agnès Jacques from the French National Institute for Agricultural Research – Institut National de recherché Agronomique (INRA) presented a special seminar at FABI. Her presentation, entitled "Emergence of Xylella fastidiosa in Europe: diversity and biology of the causing agent" described how this bacterium devastated Olive trees in southern Italy following its introduction to Europe.
FABI would like to congratulate Tania Weller-Stuart on passing her PhD examination. Tania becomes the fifth FABI PhD candidate to pass their exam this year.
FABI member, Dr Eshchar Mizrachi is one of twenty outstanding scientists from across Africa to be chosen as a Fellow of the Africa Science Leadership Programme (ASLP). The project, led by FABI’s Prof. Bernard Slippers, a past co-chair of the Global Young Academy, kicked off with a week-long workshop on “Leading a new paradign for African science”.
During the past week, Prof. Mike Wingfield and some senior academic staff members of FABI hosted several members from the Division Science and Technology of the Chinese embassy in Pretoria. The visitors included Councelor Wei Huang, First Secretary Dong Zhang, and Third Secretary ZhongYang Wang.
Last week FABI welcomed a visiting delegation from the South African Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the National Research Foundation (NRF). The delegation were briefed how the Institute serves the forestry industry specifically via the Tree Protection Co-operative Programme (TPCP) and how the Technology and Human Resources for Industry Programme – THRIP funding has aided this successful programme over the past 17 years. The DTI has taken over responsibility for the THRIP funding initiative from the National Research Foundation and the team were acquainting themselves first hand with TPCP research activities. THRIP funding forms an important funding stream supporting technology-driven advances for the South African Forestry Industry.
Two FABI staff members, Profs Fanus Venter and Emma Steenkamp, and PhD student Annie Chan, attended the 6th Congress of European Microbiologists from 7 to 11 of June in Maastricht, the Netherlands. Prof Venter was an invited speaker and participated in the session “The species concept in the genomic era”.
The annual FABI Blanket Drive has exceeded the target for 2015 with 278 blankets collected. The blankets were collected in support of Tuks FM’s Woolly Winter campaign. It was handed over to Nadene Kotzé, Tuks FM Marketing and Events Co-Coordinator, by members of the FABI Social Committee chairman, Robert Backer, along with Dorah Mwangola and Miekie Haasbroek. Prof. Noelani van den Berg is the driving force behind this and numerous other FABI charity initiatives.
FABI and the Department of Genetics hosted a joint seminar by Prof. Rees Kassen from the University of Ottawa on evolutionary genetics. Prof Kassen holds the research chair of Experimental Evolution in the Department of Biology’s Centre for Advanced Research in Environmental Genomics. He is also the author of the book ‘Experimental Evolution and the Nature of Biodiversity’.
During the past few weeks the University of Pretoria opened its doors to high school learners in search of their future careers. Many FABI students and staff members participated in two events to share their passion and experiences about a possible career in science.
A group of eminent international researchers attending the Tree Protection Cooperative Programme (TPCP) annual meeting and symposium joined FABI’s Prof. Jolanda Roux, Dr Brett Hurley and Izette Greyling on a field trip to the KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga Provinces to learn more about the plantation forestry industry in South Africa and the associated challenge posed by pests and pathogens.
During the past week the finalists for the highly-acclaimed 2014/15 NSTF–BHP BILLITON Awards were announced. Two FABI staff members are among the nominees for the 2015 'Science Oscars' recognizing, celebrating and rewarding excellence in Science, Engineering, Technology & Innovation in South Africa.
The final day of the TPCP and CTHB Annual Meetings continued with presentations on global tree health, and the impacts of trade and human movement on tree health especially dominated the morning’s discussions. Attendees traveled through different times in history as presentations looked back as far as the 1600s, took stock of the present and gazed to the future of tree health in the world.
Tree health – both of native and non-native trees – depends not only on being able to predict future threats but also being able to respond rapidly to new outbreaks or introductions of pests and pathogens, attendees of the 26th Annual Meeting of the Tree Protection Co-operative Programme (TPCP) and DST/NRF Centre of Excellence in Tree Health Biotechnology (CTHB) heard today.