14 Oct 2014

FABI student contributes to NextGEN VOICES in Science

We congratulate Ritesh Mewalal, a PhD student in the FMG programme in FABI, whose essay was taken up in the current selection of NextGen VOICES of the journal Science.


13 Oct 2014

SASBi-SAGS 2014 at Kwalata Ranch

SASBi-SAGS 2014 at Kwalata Ranch The joint congress of the South African Society for Bioinformatics (SASBi) and the South African Genetics Society (SAGS) took place at Kwalata Ranch outside Pretoria, which is part of the Dinokeng Conservancy, from 23 to 26 September.


11 Oct 2014

FABI at IUFRO 2014 - 11 October

IUFRO World Congress 2014 closing ceremony and gala dinner by Dr Casper Crous And so we have come to the end of the 2014 IUFRO World Congress here in Salt Lake City, USA. To describe the congress in this text would probably amount to me being hyperbolic. This was one of the most academically intense yet gratifying congresses I have ever attended. As the delegates at the gala dinner are politely sipping away at a beverage of their choice, the words of Dr Cecil Konijnendijk spoken earlier resonates: "Foresters are in the business of creating happiness". So I return to South Africa with somewhat of a "brain fry", but also with a knowing that being part of FABI puts one in a position to address the current issues concerning our valuable forest resources. It was also decided that the next World Congress will be in Curitiba, Brazil, in 2019. See you back in South Africa.


11 Oct 2014

PRESS RELEASE: IUFRO appoints Mike Wingfield as new President

Yesterday afternoon, Friday 10 October, Niels Elers Koch handed over the IUFRO Presidency to Mike Wingfield at the 24th IUFRO World Congress in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA. Photo: IUFRO’s immediate past President Niels Elers Koch, Denmark (left) with newly elected IUFRO President Mike Wingfield, South Africa.


10 Oct 2014

FABI at IUFRO 2014 - 10 October

Healthy forests for a healthy future by Dr Casper Crous Since my rather wordy essays the past few days, I will synthesize Friday's events in a more concise fashion. In particular, the subject of biocontrol was nicely discussed. But before I divulge into the some interesting research talks, another FABI team member, Dr ShuaiFei Chen, currently extraordinary staff member, was one of nine recent PhD graduates who received an IUFRO Outstanding Doctoral Research Award (ODRA). Regarding the research discussions today, Brett Hurley highlighted the success of using Selitrichoides neseri as biocontrol for the pesky Leptocybe invasa - that massive problem in Eucalyptus plantations. Fortunately, as repeatedly emphasized this past week, issues like these are being prioritized globally, and the sharing of knowledge and more collaboration will help us find the right solution. Also, Dr Jason A. Lastly, a talk by Dr Toni Withers from New Zealand needs mention. I look forward to the closing ceremony and gala dinner where we can celebrate with the new IUFRO President, Professor Mike Wingfield.


9 Oct 2014

FABI at IUFRO 2014 - 9 October

Thoughts on the essence of science - the discovery of knowledge by Dr Casper Crous After the field-visits yesterday, all delegates were once again roaming the vast hallways of the Salt Palace Convention Centre. The first plenary talk was given by Jack Dangermond, the founder and president of ESRI, the folks that brought you arcGIS et al. However, one of the neatest additions to the new software is real-time updates of data. Then, in a surprise visit, Prince Charles delivered a small speech via video from London, "disembodied but carbon neutral", as he put it. The second plenary was by prominent writer and biologist, David G. These two speakers then joined a rather informal panel discussion, which included IUFRO president-elect Professor Mike Wingfield, on the importance of reconnecting with nature and creatively going about acquiring knowledge. FABI was represented with Professor Bernard Slippers giving a thought-provoking talk on whether global quarantine ideals is a realistic approach for developing countries at present, especially since there are sneaky pathogenic endophytes. Also remember to visit the IUFRO Blog for more news or information. More soon.


8 Oct 2014

FABI at IUFRO 2014 - 8 October

In-Congress field-trip: southern Utah Juniper-Pinyon Ecology by Dr Casper Crous On Wednesday, congress delegates were treated to an in-congress field trip across the beautifully diverse Utah state. Different FABI members did different tours. From a socio-economic perspective, the restoration of these woodlands is important for two reasons.


7 Oct 2014

FABI at IUFRO 2014 - 7 October

Controversial statements and lively debates - rebels with a cause by Dr Casper Crous After the honeymoon phase of the congress yesterday, it was back to business today, where key discussions and talks were often marked with some controversial statements and lively debates. The IUFRO President's discussion was first-up. Secondly, the idea of forest sustainability being a simple idea - e. Thirdly, the panelists agreed that for sustainable forest management to be realized globally, there needs to be a greater emphasis on educating people on the value of forests for providing income, e. And in fashion of controversy-today, Professor Mike Wingfield rightly pointed to the fact that to obtain more qualified foresters in South Africa, and perhaps in most African countries, is not that straight-forward. Talking about controversial, the keynote plenary, Professor David Newbery from Bern University in Switzerland, probably took the award. Well, there is at least one mind that will struggle to switch off tonight.


6 Oct 2014

FABI at IUFRO 2014 - 6 October

Opening Ceremony and Start of the Academic Programme by Dr Casper Crous Today was the start of the 'Big Show', as Mike put it earlier. However, before all the scurrying started, there could not have been a more sincere start to the day than a cultural song and dance representative of the indigenous peoples of the Great Basin. Overall, the opening ceremony of the 24th World Congress was telling that folks involved with IUFRO have a strong conservation ethic, which is undoubtedly the most vital part of ensuring long-term protection of forest products, especially in a time when the demand for such products is drastically increasing. Of course, after all that inspiration, Professor Jolanda Roux received an IUFRO Scientific Achievement Award (SAA). The keynote plenary today was given by Professor Andy Buchanan, from the University of Canterbury, New Zealand. Furthermore, a talk by Professor Mike Wingfield today was more food-for-thought. The current IUFRO president, Niels Koch, made a bold statement when he officially opened the 24th World Congress by saying it will be the best congress in the 122-year history of the organization.


5 Oct 2014

FABI at IUFRO 2014 - 5 October

Greetings from Salt Lake City, Utah by Dr Casper Crous As many of you might know, the 24th World Congress of the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO) kicks off tomorrow. The theme of the 24th IUFRO World Congress is 'Sustaining forests, sustaining people: the role of research'. This tree-planting event in the International Peace Gardens was symbolic of the root of IUFRO - bringing people together, from all over the world, to promote forest research globally. A second symbol of the tree-planting today was to highlight the role of urban forests, which, among other aspects, is often associated with a higher quality of living through cleaning air, filtering water, etc. And so, with a light dusting of snow on the towering Wasatch mountain range, and a fully-loaded congress schedule, there is plenty to be excited about this coming week. A good week to all.


4 Oct 2014

New pest of Eucalyptus detected in South Africa

In May this year symptoms of a previously unreported insect pest was detected on Eucalyptus in Midrand, Gauteng. While the symptoms appeared similar to those of some Ophelimus species, no gall formers emerged in captivity until recently. The species name must still be confirmed, but the symptoms and adults that have now emerged indicate that it might indeed be Ophelimus maskelli, which is a known pest of Eucalyptus in the Middle East, Europe, North Africa, Mauritius and New Zealand (native to Au


30 Sep 2014

FTBP hosts a Hans Merensky Industry Day at FABI

The Fruit Tree Biotechnology Programme (FTBP) in FABI held their annual industry meeting with the board of the Hans Merensky Foundation on 18 September.


26 Sep 2014

Shoots of a Forest Pathology Tree

The International Mycological Congress (IMC) recently held in Bangkok provided great opportunities to meet with friends and colleagues. Robert Blanchette (third form left) provides a "starting point".


20 Sep 2014

Celebrating one year in the Biocontrol efforts of the bronze bug

October 2013 marked the first releases of the minute mymarid parasitic wasp, Cleruchoides noackae, biological control agent for the bronze bug, Thaumastocoris peregrinus. For enquiries, please contact Dr Brett Hurley Photographs: The pest (top) and its biocontrol agent (bottom), and TPCP team members with industry partners at release sites in the field.


18 Sep 2014

MPPI and CFPRG host Cercospora transformation workshop

Currently there are many fungal genome sequencing projects at FABI. The workshop was attended by a dozen participants from different research groups in the Departments of Plant Science, Genetics, Microbiology and Plant Pathology, as well as a collaborator from the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of Cape Town. Reference Ridenour JB, Hirsch RL, Bluhm BH (2012) Identifying Genes in Fusarium verticillioides Through Forward and Reverse Genetics.  


17 Sep 2014

FABI Leaders achieve a 'double A' at the 2014 NRF Awards Ceremony

The night of Thursday 11 September was a time for celebration when the National Research Foundation (NRF) held their annual awards ceremony at the Thaba Eco Hotel outside Johannesburg. In the photograph Mike and Brenda shares the stage at the awards ceremony.


14 Sep 2014

FABI-ICFR-Industry alliance publishes a special issue of Southern Forests

The latest issue of Southern Forests: a Journal of Forest Science, focuses on the management of Fusarium circinatum in South African pine nurseries and plantations. Southern Forests publishes scientific articles in forest science and management of commercial and natural forests in the Southern Hemisphere and the tropics. Southern Forests: a Journal of Forest Science Volume 76, Issue 3, 2014 Contents of special issue on Fusarium circinatum Morris AR (2014). Jones NB, Ford CM, Light ME, Nadel RL, Greyling I, Fourie G, Wingfield MJ, Morris AR (2014). Fourie G, Wingfield MJ, Wingfield BD, Jones NB, Morris AR, Steenkamp ET (2014). Nel A, Hodge GR, Mongwaketsi KE, Kanzler A (2014). Mitchell RG, Wingfield MJ, Steenkamp ET, Roux J, Verryn S, Coutinho TA (2014). Swett CL, Porter B, Fourie G, Steenkamp ET, Gordon TR, Wingfield MJ (2014). Ford CM, Jones NB, Chirwa PWC (2014). Morris AR, Fourie G, Greyling I, Steenkamp ET, Jones NB (2014).


11 Sep 2014

Well-known evolutionary biologist from the USA visits FABI

Prof Bitty Roy from the Institute of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Oregon, is on a two day visit to FABI, where she will also present a special seminar. Apart from presenting the seminar, Bitty made time for individual and group discussions with several staff members and students in FABI, which were both enjoyable and enlightening.


10 Sep 2014

FABI collaborator passes away

It is with great sadness that we heard of the untimely death of Dr. Below a list of publications co-authored by Robert and colleagues in FABI: De Beer ZW, Begerow D, Bauer R, Pegg GS, Crous PW, Wingfield MJ. Schäfer AM, Kemler M, Bauer R, Begerow D. Begerow D, Schäfer AM, Kellner R, Yurkov A, Kemler M, Oberwinkler F, Bauer R.


5 Sep 2014

Seven PhD's and 13 MSc's awarded to FABIans at the Spring graduation ceremony

The Spring Graduation Ceremony of the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Science took place on Thursday 4 September. PhD Dr Bertha-Lucia de Castro - Diseases of coffee with particular references to those affecting stems and roots in Colombia Dr Nanette Christie - Transcriptional regulation underlying the quantitative genetic response of maize to grey leaf spot disease Dr Steven Hussey - Functional genomics of NAC transcription factor SND2 regulating secondary cell wall biosynthesis in Arabidopsis and Eucalyptus Dr Matome Makgopa - Production and characterization of trangenic Arabidopsis and soybean (Glycine max (L. Dr Celia Martins - Characterizing four cowpea (Vigna unguiculata (L. Dr Michael Mbenoun - Diversity, ecology and taxonomy of tree infecting Ceratocystis species in Africa Dr Divine Shyntum - Characterising the Type VI secretion system in Pantoea ananatis MSc (* with distinction) *Marike du Plessis - Phylo- and comparative genomics of the Pantoea core genome *Arista Fourie - Distinguishing between cryptic species in the Ceratocystis fimbriata sensu lato species complex Tracy Godlonton - Mating locus structure and a gene duplication in Ceratocystis species *Miekie Haasbroek - Characterization of Exserohilum turcicum isolates within South African maize production areas Mkhululi Maphosa - Identification of unique genes in the genome of Fusarium circinatum and the development of a robust diagnostic technique using these sequences Dora Ngoepe - Genotyping-by-sequencing of sweet-stem and grain sorghum for genetic mapping *Desre Pinard - Genome-wide analysis of carbohydrate active enzyme diversity and expression in Eucalyptus grandis *Anandi Reitmann - ldentification of pathogenicity genes in Phytophthora cinnamomi Rynhard Smit - Evaluation of Random Amplified Polymorphic DNA and Simple Sequence Repeat markers in Moringa oleifera (Iam. Ariska van der Nest - Comparative study of Epicoccum sorghinum in southern Africa Ida van Jaarsveld - Basal prometer landscape in Eucalyptus grandis: Annotation of distal transcription start sites and core prometer usage *Febe Wilken - Establishment of a compatible pathosystem between Eucalyptus nitens and Phytophthora cinnamomi to determine host transcriptional responses *Amy Wooding - Sex determination and symbiont transmission in the Sirex-Amylostereum mutualism More photos of the graduation in the gallery.


1 Sep 2014

Spring is in the air!

The 1st of September traditionally heralds the arrival of Spring in South Africa.


30 Aug 2014

FABIans do well in the 2014 NRF ratings

During the past week the first National Research Foundation (NRF) ratings for 2014 were released.


29 Aug 2014

Biotech Fundi award winners from FMG

Every year the Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (GDARD), in partnership with the Innovation Hub and strategic partners, hosts the Biotech Fundi awards. The 2014 awards were held at a gala dinner at the Innovation Hub precinct, on Thursday night 21 Aug. - Gauteng University registered Post Graduate Student - Excellent academic performance, (80% or more average academic marks) - Research that will lead to biotechnology knowledge, product or service (according to OECD definition) - Cutting edge research addressing a national priority challenge Steven was awarded a Biotech Fundi globe trophy, a certificate, a R5 000 cash prize, course attendance and training at DNAbiotec  to the value of R10 000, and a trip to attend the Agricultural Bioscience International Conference (ABIC2014) in Saskatoon, Canada, in October 2014. Another FABIan, Drew Behrens (Bottom photo), won top student award among the 10 UP students who received GDARD bursaries in 2013. FABI also congratulates UP researcher Prof.


22 Aug 2014

First FABI webinar a great success!

On Thursday, 14 August, Prof.


20 Aug 2014

Microscopy course for beginners in FABI

The second beginners microscopy course for 2014 was hosted on 15 August in the FABI microscope room.


18 Aug 2014

Bringing research and technology to the emerging maize farmer community

Members of the MPPI group (Prof Dave Berger, Ncobile Kunene, Elelwani Ramulifho) went out of their comfort zone recently to attend a workshop in Pietermaritzburg on “The role of technology and research in improving food security of smallholders and emerging farmers”, organized by the KwaZulu-Natal Agricultural Union (KWANALU) and the University of Missouri (MU), USA. The workshop was highly inclusive with talks by the farmers themselves on their experiences, as well as NGO’s, GrainSA, commercial farmers, seed companies, Universities, ARC, the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, including the MEC, and even a TV journalist from Ghana. Photos (Top) Prof Dave Berger with the KWANALU and University of Missouri team (Bottom) MPPI members with some of the local maize farmers


14 Aug 2014

Researchers from RAIZ Forestry Research, Portugal, visit FABI

Drs Cristina Marques and Catarina Gonclaves visited FABI from 12 to 13 August to discuss future collaborations with FABI's Forest Molecular Genetics (FMG) and Tree Protection Cooperative Programme (TPCP). Photos  Top: Drs Catarina Gonclaves and Cristina Marques (2nd and 3rd from left) with staff from FABI Biocontrol Centre (left to right: Ms Samantha Bush, Mrs Marlene Harney and Mr Joseph Khadile) Bottom: Prof Mike Wingfield, Drs Catarina Gonclaves and Cristina Marques, Prof Bernard Slippers, Drs Jeff Garnas and Brett Hurley.


11 Aug 2014

Webinar on High-throughput SNP genotyping co-presented by FABI staff

In this free webinar for researchers at the University of Pretoria, Prof Zander Myburg and Marja O'Neill of the Forest Molecular Genetics (FMG) research group in FABI, will give a short presentation on "High-throughput SNP genotyping for marker assisted breeding in Eucalyptus. Date: Thursday, August 14th Time: 2:00 PM SAST, 60 minutes Venue: your office You can register online here.


10 Aug 2014

More news from IMC10

During the past week 15 FABIans, several ex-FABIans, and many collaborators of FABI participated in the 10th International Mycological Congress (IMC) in Bangkok, Thailand. For many of the FABIans attending IMC10, it was their first visit to Bangkok, an exciting, interesting city of contrasts. INVITED SPEAKER 3. ORAL PRESENTATIONS (*Presentations by individuals from elsewhere, where FABIans were co-authors) 3. 4. 4. 5. *6. *8. *SS3 Draginja Pavlic-Zupanc (ARC-PPRI, Pretoria) - Cryptic diversity and distribution of phytopathogenic species in the Neofusicoccum parvum / N. SS3 Irene Barnes - New invasions of the needle blight pathogen Dothistroma septosporum in Colombia *SS3 Yuho Ando - Phylogenetic relationships in the Grosmannia piceiperda complex SS6 Stephen Taerum - Origin and diversity of the fungus Leptographium procerum associated with the red turpentine beetle in China SS7 Riikka Linnakoski - Phylogenetic relationships between species in the Ophiostoma clavatum complex POSTER PRESENTATIONS (*Presentations by individuals from elsewhere, where FABIans were co-authors) 2. 2. 3. *3. *3. 3. 4. 4. 5. 5. 5. *5. 5. 5. 5. 5. 5. *6. 8.


4 Aug 2014

FABIans making an impact at IMC10, Bangkok

The 10th International Mycological Congress (IMC) is currently (3-8 August) taking place in Bangkok, Thailand. The first keynote speaker of the meeting was Prof Pedro Crous, extraordinary professor at the University of Pretoria and director of the CBS-KNAW Fungal Biodiversity Centre in the Netherlands, with the topic "Linking life". In the background to the scientific sessions, other significant meetings are taking place. A full programme of the meeting can be viewed here, and the abstracts are available in the attached pdf.


1 Aug 2014

SPOOF 2014 - What a CIRCUS!!!

The 18th annual meeting of the Epsilon Chapter of the Society for the Presentation of Outrageous Findings (SPOOF) was held in FABI on Friday the 25th of July. See more photographs and a sample of video clips in our galleries.


31 Jul 2014

Myrtle Rust Pathogen now also in Limpopo

In May 2013 the Myrtle rust pathogen, Puccinia psidii, was detected for the first time in South Africa (on a non-native, ornamental tree, Myrtus communis). The second confirmed report of P. We encourage all foresters, conservation workers, farmers and any interested person, especially in the Wolkberg/Tzaneen areas, to keep their eyes open for the Myrtle rust pathogen. If you think that you have seen the disease, or need more information on it, please contact Prof Jolanda Roux at FABI immediately.    


30 Jul 2014

TPCP team members attend the Biennial Forest Science Symposium

A team of researchers linked to the Tree Protection Co-operative Programme (TPCP) at FABI attended the biennial Forest Science Symposium held at Hilton College in the Natal Midlands on the 29th and 30th July. The photograph shows (Clockwise from top) Iain Thompson (consultant), Julian Chan (ICFR), Craig Norris (NCT), Bernard Slippers (TPCP/FABI), Jolanda Roux (TPCP/FABI) and Andrew Morris (ICFR) in a meeting to discuss opportunities to control the new Acacia mearnsii rust disease that appeared in plantations for the first time in 2014.


29 Jul 2014

Genetics and Genomics expertise at UP tapped for Gates Foundation project on Cassava Brown Streak Disease

Teddy Amuge, Esther Masumba and Inosters Nzuki are PhD students registered at the University of Pretoria but based at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Kenya. Photo L-R (Back) Prof Zander Myburg, Dr Albe van der Merwe, Dr Morag Ferguson, Melissa Reynolds, Prof Dave Berger.


28 Jul 2014

Tondani Kone passes his MSc!

Tondani Kone, one of the students in the TPCP programme, just heard that he passed his MSc.


22 Jul 2014

Marike du Plessis passes her MSc cum laude!

Marike du Plessis received the results of her MSc thesis examination last week.