It has been a very busy start to the year for the staff managing the CMW Fungal Culture Collection at FABI. The FABI collection is one of the largest private collections of fungal cultures in the world and was established in the 1980's by FABI Director, Prof. The collection is especially known for accommodating focus groups of fungal agents of tree disease in commercial forestry, and includes some of the most comprehensive collections in existence of the ophiostomatoid fungi (Ophiostoma, Sporothrix, Ceratocystis etc. The preparation, storage, maintenance and cataloguing of this collection is of vital importance and this is done by a group of six staff and postgraduate students. The fungal cultures are preserved in four different media: sterile water, agar slants, mineral oil and freeze dried with a skim milk formula. Dr Marincowitz runs a tight ship with every culture sample coming in being logged and recorded both electronically and manually on data cards. The CMW collection forms the foundation of much of the research in FABI.
The TPCP-CTHB groups in FABI have a tradition of officially celebrating the first publication of a paper in an ISI-rated scientific journal by a postgraduate student from the work of either their PhD or MSc. At the first publication party for 2015, the first publications of seven students were celebrated last week. THE PUBLICATIONS Fourie A, Wingfield MJ, Wingfield BD, Barnes I. Herron DA, Wingfield MJ, Wingfield BD, Rodas CA, Marincowitz S, Steenkamp ET. Lee DH, Roux J, Wingfield BD, Wingfield MJ. Liu FF, Mbenoun M, Barnes I, Roux J, Wingfield MJ, Li GQ, Li JQ, Chen SF. Nesamari R, Millar IM, Coutinho TA, Roux J. Osorio JA, Wingfield MJ, Roux J. Taerum SJ, Duong TA, De Beer ZW, Gillette N, Sun J, Owen DR, Wingfield MJ.
FABI hosted two groups of High School students over the past two weeks. The visit by students from St Mary’s is now an annual occasion where the girls are also addressed by female academics. The girls were then given the opportunity to do gel electrophoresis preparation to tie in with the biotechnology module currently being covered in their school syllabus. Affies is located close to the University and this is the second year the school has sent its students to visit the Institute to get an insight into the work being done at the University and gain a practical insight into research being conducted. The students are currently studying bacteria and viruses and were hosted by Prof. Students were briefed on biological Nitrogen fixation in plants, given a chance to inoculate and plate bacterial cultures before being told about fungal and bacterial symbioses in indigenous Protea species. Visits by scholars forms an important part of FABI’s mandate to educate the youth and instill an interest in Science by exposing them to high level research being conducted at the Institute.
In a joint effort, staff and students again showed that many hands make light work at the year’s first TPCP-CTHB Tree Planting Day. Everyone swapped their labcoats for shovels, secateurs, wheelbarrows, trolleys and brooms to ensure the tasks were finished by lunchtime. The Tree Planting Day is a team building exercise as much as a time saving effort by the FABI staff under the watchful eye of Dr Wilhelm de Beer. More photos here.
The University of Pretoria, in partnership with the Global Young Academy and Robert Bosch Stiftung, has recently launched the Africa Science Leadership Program (ASLP). FABI research leader and also leader of the Africa Science Leadership Initiative, Prof. Dr Eva Alisic, co-chair of the Global Young Academy and researcher at Monash University in Australia, spent the first two months of the year in FABI to support the launch of the program. The program will commence with a first group in June 2015, and will run annually for an initial period of three years. More information on the Africa Science Leadership Program (ASLP). Reference Slippers B, Alisic E.
In April 2015, Joey Hulbert will join FABI as a PhD student in the Department of Microbiology and Plant Pathology. Photo: Joey Hulbert next to a tanoak (Notholithocarpus densiflorus) tree infected with Phytophthora ramorum — the species responsible for Sudden Oak Death in North America.
The TPCP/CTHB Diagnostic Clinic serves the member companies of the TPCP with diagnoses and advice with regards to tree disease problems. Last week saw the TPCP/CTHB Diagnostic team go on their annual training trip. Some of the familiar plant diseases encountered on this trip included pitch canker and Armillaria root rot of pine; bacterial wilt and MLB (Mycosphaerella leaf blotch) of Eucalyptus; and pink disease on yellow wood. Pests and diseases were not the only part of the trip, however.
The DST/NRF Centre for Tree Health and Biotechnology (CTHB) has been running a highly successful mentorship programme for over a decade. A meet and greet function for the successful mentees and their mentors was held on 27 February in the FABI courtyard.
FABI has launched its annual Blanket Collection campaign and aims to collect 200 blankets this year. Charity drives and social awareness is an important part of FABI’s annual events calendar and gives people pause to think of those less fortunate than they are and in need. Blankets can be dropped off in the FABI reception area or cash donations of R50 per blanket can be made to Prof Noelani van den Berg.
FABI, the DST-NRF Centres of Excellence in Tree Health Biotechnology (CTHB) and Invasion Biology (C•I•B) joined forces during early March 2015 to investigate microbiological aspects of the relationship between Acacia koa and A.
A PhD student in FABI, Osmond Mlonyeni, has been chosen as a 2015 Lindau Fellow to attend the 65th Lindau meeting in Germany in June 2015.
A host of FABIans were part of the audience of more than 250 people that filled the Sanlam Auditorium to listen to Prof. Prof. The title of his lecture was Reversing the greatest blunder in the history of medicine: can South African medical science lead the way? Dr Albe van der Merwe, senior lecturer in FABI and a board member of S2A3, presented Prof.
FABI would like to congratulate Bianca Reeksting on passing her PhD exam this week!
We would like to congratulate Erik Visser and Danielle Roodt for both passing their MSc degrees with distinction! Erik sequenced and assembled the shoot transcriptome of Pinus patula, creating an important resource to investigate host responses to Fusarium circinatum in future. As part of his MSc studies, Erik spent three months at the University of Connecticut in the laboratory of Prof. Danielle’s thesis is titled "The mating genetics and core genome of Ceratocystis albifundus". Ceratocystis albifundus is a filamentous ascomycete and a pathogen of non-native Acacia mearnsii in southern Africa. Both Danielle and Erik plan to embark on their PhD's this year.
The non-native rust pathogen of Eucalyptus and other Myrtaceae, Puccinia psidii, was first reported from a single tree in a garden on the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast of South Africa in May 2013. During a survey of cycad diseases in the Wolkberg Wilderness Area near Tzaneen, Limpopo Province, two native Eugenia sp. Puccinia psidii, the myrtle rust pathogen, has been known from Brazil and other South and Central American countries for several decades. Infection of plants results in leaf spot, necrosis of leaves, shoot, flower and fruit infections, resulting in death of affected plant parts. The threat of P. We encourage you to spread information on this important pathogen as wide as possible and to report any possible sightings of the disease to Prof.
The fight against the ravages of the Bronze Bug Thaumastocoris peregrinus in commercial Eucalyptus forests has been stepped up with the successful release, establishment and spread of the minute parasitic wasp Cleruchoides noackae (Mymaridae). It has been 18 months since the Tree Protection Co-Operative Programme (TPCP), based at FABI, received permission from the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) for the release the parasitic wasp. Data from post-release monitoring of C. Thaumastocoris peregrinus was first recorded in South Africa in 2003 (but only in 2005 in forestry areas), having been accidentally introduced from Australia. Photos: 1.
FABI has entered into a research partnership agreement with the Centraalbureau voor Schimmelcultures (CBS)-Fungal Biodiversity Centre located in Utrecht in the Netherlands. FABI Director, Prof. An important part of the partnership is the exchange of expertise and development and nurturing of the scientific talent at FABI. Prof. Species in the fungal genus Fusarium are of crucial importance in several fields. About CBS CBS is an institute of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW). CBS maintains a world-renowned collection of more than 100 000 living filamentous fungi, yeasts and bacteria – the largest and oldest such collection in the world, representing a large percentage of the species in the fungal kingdom that have been cultured to date.
Sarah Wild, Science Editor and multi-award winning journalist for the leading newspaper, The Mail & Guardian, visited FABI on 9 February when she conducted an interview with FABI Director, Prof.
FABI was honoured to co-host a special seminar in partnership with Department of Genetics, by Dr Adam Konecný on the application of Approximate Bayesian Computation (ABC) as a valuable tool for inferring population history from genetic data.
The biennal TPCP/CTHB team-building event was held last week, as in recent years, at Kwalata in the Dinokeng nature reserve north of Pretoria.
In January 2015 Gudrun Dittrich-Schröder presented her PhD prestige seminar and passed her PhD exam. Leptocybe invasa is a gall-forming wasp of Eucalyptus species and has become one of the most threatening insect pests to Eucalyptus plantation forestry. We congratulate Gudrun on this wonderful achievement! Dittrich-Schroder G, Harney M, Neser S, Joffe T, Bush S, Hurley BP, Wingfield MJ, Slippers B. Dittrich-Schröder G, Wingfield MJ, Hurley BP, Slippers B. Kelly J, La Salle J, Harney M, Dittrich-Schröder G, Hurley BP.
From 18-21 January, the 49th congress of the Southern African Society of Plant Pathology (SASPP) took place in Bloemfontein. It was one of the largest meetings in the history of the society with more than 200 delegates representing the industry, academia, government and regulatory bodies. FABI was well represented with FABIans giving one keynote address, 15 oral and 17 poster presentations.
During the past week a team of eight researchers arrived in Pretoria for a 4-6 week stay in FABI.
FABI was honoured to host York Timbers CEO, Piet van Zyl, on 15 January.
On Wednesday 14 January, FABI hosted a visit by Prof.
Dr Peter Mortimer, Associate Professor in the Soil Biology Group at the Kunming Institute of Botany, visited FABI last week on the invitation of FABI Director, Prof Mike Wingfield.
FABI was abuzz with activity when one of the large Carob (Ceratonia siliqua) trees in the courtyard toppled shortly after a short but severe mid-morning thunderstorm moved through the Tuks Campus last week.
Over the past few years staff and students of FABI on an annual basis initiated, contributed and participated in welfare projects as part of its social responsibility programme.
The start of the new academic year saw some 180 FABIans cram into the FABI auditorium where they were welcomed by FABI director, Prof.
The British Society of Plant Pathology (BSPP)/Southern African Society for Plant Pathology (SASPP) Grace Waterhouse Fellowship is awarded to a Southern African MSc or PhD student, allowing them to conduct research in a laboratory in the UK.
After 17 years of employment and dedication, is was with sadness and a heavy heart that FABIans bid farewell to Mrs Vivienne Clarence on December 10th.
Prof Volker Brozel, Head of the Department of Biology and Microbiology, South Dakota State University, visited FABI in early December. Photo: Prof Brozel having dinner with Profs Fanus Venter and Brenda Wingfield, acting Dean.
FABI researchers Drs Jeff Garnas and Brett Hurley joined collaborators Ms Flora Krivak-Tetley and Dr Sandy Liebhold in Hogsback, Eastern Cape to investigate infestations of the Sirex woodwasp, Sirex noctilio.
Prof Lori Eckhardt from the Faculty of the School of Forestry and Wildlife Science of the Auburn University, Alabama, and her MSc student Andrea Cole recently visited FABI to learn more about Sirex noctilio. Photo: Andrea Cole doing nematode isolations from Sirex wasps.
Field research and regular interaction with industry stakeholders are two key activities of the Tree Protection Co-operative Programme (TPCP).