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.
The launch of the 2016 DST-NRF Centre of Excellence in Tree Health Biotechnology (CTHB) mentorship programme was held at FABI on March 4. Each successful candidate is then interviewed by a selection panel before being paired with a postgraduate mentor. Prof.
As has become custom, FABIans will once again embark on the annual FABI Blanket Drive in the months leading up to winter. Prof. Last year the TuksFM Woolly Winter campaign collected and donated cash and goods – including food – worth more than R300,000 to the Student Nutrition and Progress Programme (SNAPP) and welfare organisations in the city.
FABIan and senior lecturer in the Department of Genetics Dr Albé van der Merwe has made a name for himself with his students for being innovative and going the extra mile. Dr van der Merwe also made sure that students who did not have access to the Internet could still access his lectures by making them available on CD.
The new FABI "CONNECTING THE DOTS" T-shirt was launched at the Institute’s January 2016 formal opening. The illustration on the "CONNECTING THE DOTS" t-shirt comes directly from one element of the research on tree pathogens and pests conducted in FABI. Photos: The 2016 Microbiology Honours students who joined the FABI team this year, proudly wearing the new FABI T-shirts, and a close-up of the design.
The NRF and the Department of Science and Technology (DST) led a delegation to Oman to participate in the Agri-biotech and Water Researchers’ Conference and Workshop from 23 to 25 February 2016. Oman is one of South Africa’s prospective research partners in the fields of agri-biotechnology and water and the objectives of the workshop were to identify areas of expertise in these fields as well as to prioritise sub-themes for joint research proposals to the NRF and SQU. Photographs: Top/Left: The South African delegation.
Waheed Mahomed delivered his prestige seminar – the first FABI prestige seminar held off-campus from the University of Pretoria – at the South African National Biodiversity Institute’s Biodiversity Auditorium in Pretoria on February 23. Waheed’s study focused on the defence strategies of Persea americana (avocado) against the pathogen P. Though native to Mexico, avocado is an important commercial crop in many countries, including South Africa.
Cape Citizen Science is a FABI driven project led by PhD student Joey Hulbert. On February 16-17, 2016, a workshop was offered to Protea garden staff from Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden to improve awareness of microorganisms as the cause of plant disease and the risks of invasive species. Two presentations were provided during the workshop followed by an activity to conduct field isolations of Phytophthora species: Recognising plant disease: why and how and Introduction to Phytophthora: plant destroyers in South Africa Joey believes these workshops will help raise awareness and promote early detection of invasive species and plant disease epidemics in the future.
FABI has teamed up with national drought relief campaign, Operation Hydrate, to deliver water to communities affected by water shortages. Hundreds of 5l bottles flooded the FABI reception area in the two weeks set aside for the collection drive, with FABIans donating about 400 bottles. Operation Hydrate was formed in January in response to the nationwide drought.
Central to the process of completing a postgraduate degree is the relationship between a student and their supervisor. Prof.
Thursday 11 February marked a sad day on the FABI calendar as we said farewell to Marlene Harney. We thank Marlene for her amazing contribution to FABI and wish her the very best for her future.
The University of Pretoria and the Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute (FABI) will host the 2016 International Fusarium laboratory workshop from 29 May to 3 June. Internationally recognised Fusarium researchers will present the workshop and participants will be introduced to standard morphological, genetic and molecular biological techniques used to identify and characterise strains of Fusarium.
FABI congratulates Ritesh Mewalal on passing his PhD oral exam on January 29, becoming the second FABIan to do so in 2016. His external examiners were Professors Jeffrey Dean of the Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Entomology & Plant Pathology at Mississippi State University in the United States, Peter Constabel of the Centre for Forest Biology at the University of Victoria in Canada, and Laigeng Li of the Institute of Plant Physiology and Ecology Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing.
Dates: 16-18 May 2016 Venue: FABI, University of Pretoria The annual meeting of the Tree Protection Co-operative Programme (TPCP) and DST/NRF Centre of Excellence in Tree Health Biotechnology (CTHB) is rapidly drawing closer. As has been the case in the past, the 27th annual meeting of the TPCP will focus on key issues relating to forest tree health in South Africa. •Prof. •Dr. •Dr. We look forward to welcoming you in Pretoria and once again to use this opportunity to exchange ideas and to further the important goal of “KEEPING TREES HEALTHY”.
The sixth bi-annual African Centre for Gene Technologies (ACGT) Proteomics workshop, organised by Project Co-ordinator at the ACGT, Mr Thabo Khoza, was hosted by the University of Pretoria on 1-2 February 2016. Lectures were presented by Professor Lennart Martens and Ms Tracey Hurrell. Overall, this two-day workshop attracted 34 attendees from different academic backgrounds including Dr Stoyan Stoychev from CSIR, Dr John Becker from ACGT, Prof Duncan Cromarty from the Department of Pharmacology (University of Pretoria) and three FABI PhD students: Ms Lizahn Zwart, Ms Elodie Ekoka and Mr Johan Liversage. For those interested in proteomics, several beginner-friendly tutorials recommended by Prof.
Ronishree Mangwanda presented the first prestige seminar of 2016 on January 27 at the Plant Sciences Auditorium, University of Pretoria. Ronishree’s supervisors were Drs Sanushka Naidoo, Albe van der Merwe and Prof. During her PhD project Ronishree studied the immune responses and defences of Eucalyptus grandis to infection by the fungus Chrysoporthe austroafricana.
Count yourself lucky if you can still fill your glass with water from a tap. FABI has committed to bringing some relief to communities in need of water by collecting 2000 litres of water between January 25 and February 1. The dire situation is graphically illustrated by these images supplied by FABIan Ludwig Eksteen showing the desert-like conditions in the Bothaville District of the Freestate Province.
The first FABI ‘Monday Morning Meeting’ of 2016 kicked off in spectacular fashion on January 25 when FABI Director, Prof. Prof. In response to the nationwide drought and subsequent water shortages in some communities, Prof.
FABI MSc students Angie du Preez and Khumbuzile Bophela attended the 19th Biennial South African Society for Microbiology (SASM) congress held in the Coastlands Umhlanga Convention Centre in KwaZulu-Natal from 17-20 January 2016. The welcome ceremony opened with a lead plenary address by Dr Karen Nelson of the J. Angelique du Preez: Pantoea ananatis strains from different niches: a flagellin glycosylation island comparison Khumbuzile Bophela: Characterisation and pathogenicity of Enterobacter species associated with bacterial blight and die-back of Eucalyptus seedlings and cuttings This SASM conference reflected on disciplines such as Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology.
During the past year, FABIans has set a new record for the highest number of research or review papers in internationally recognized journals since the Institute was established in 1998. The 91 papers were published in 43 different journals. Eleven FABI papers have already appeared online in 2016. A complete list of all FABI publications can be viewed here.
As has become custom during the past few years, the management committee of the TPCP-CTHB research programmes in FABI has met for two days off-campus to strategise for the year ahead.
When the UP campus opened today after the past week’s disruptions, a group of FABIans rolled up their sleeves to clean up litter strewn in the area around the FABI buildings during the protest actions.
FABI would like to congratulate Professor Teresa Coutinho who has been appointed as the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) South African ambassador for a three-year term.
The joint 2016 conference for the South African Association of Botanists (SAAB) and the Southern African Society for Systematic Biology (SASSB) took place from 10-13 January at the University of the Free State in Bloemfontein.
FABI hosted eight postgraduate students and their supervisors from the University of the Free State (UFS) and the University of Venda (Univen) on December 3.
PhD student at Dartmouth College and FABI collaborator, Flora Krivak-Tetley, delivered a seminar at the institute on December 3.