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.


21 Jul 2014

FABI welcomes Kabelo Nzima, our new Information Specialist

This morning at the Monday Morning Meeting, Prof Mike Wingfield, director of FABI, welcomed and introduced Ms Kabelo Nzima to FABIans. Tel. E-mail: kabelo. Office: Merensky Library, Level 5 Photo: Mike Wingfield introducing Kabelo Nzima to FABI staff and students


20 Jul 2014

Review published for book on mushrooms stamps

Earlier this year, we reported here on a book on mushroom stamps collected by the late Prof Wally Marasas, that was published by CBS in the Netherlands with Prof Mike Wingfield as co-author.


17 Jul 2014

Ariska van der Nest passes her MSc!

This week Ariska van der Nest received the reports of her MSc examiners which were very positive about her thesis, and informing her that she passed with a good mark.


16 Jul 2014

FABI students participate in UP with Science

UP with Science – What did your steak have for lunch? This year the annual science enrichment program, UP with Science, that takes place during the winter school holidays, was a great success. The Plant Science Department hosted one of the projects entitled, “What did your steak have for lunch? The conclusion at the end of the project was that GMO food is a reality and a dire need in the world to feed all the hungry people. The project was led by Johan Liversage and his team at the Plant Science Department, that consisted of Ncobile Kunene, Kirsty Botha, Molly Malefo, Tintswalo Maluleke and Tshepang Khahlu. - information provided by Johan Liversage Photos The Plant Science group in the laboratory - (Back) Thabang, Rian, Lexi, (Front) Jeanette, Mathabang. The group outside the SciEnza centre.


9 Jul 2014

Our NSTF award winner making headlines

Several newspapers published feature articles on the NSTF awards of last week, where Prof Brenda Wingfield won an award for her outstanding contribution to science, engineering, technology and innovation (SETI) through research capacity development over the last five to ten years.


9 Jul 2014

Eddy Onkendi's PhD chapter features as cover story for Plant Pathology

During the past week Dr Lucy Moleleki, leader of the Bacterial Genomics and Host Pathogen Interactions research group in FABI, was informed by the editor of the British based journal, Plant Pathology, that a photograph from a paper by one of her students, Eddy Onkendi, has been selected to feature on the cover of the August 2014 issue.


7 Jul 2014

Nanette Christie passes her PhD oral examination!

On Thursday Nanette Christie (née Coetzer) gave her PhD prestige seminar and subsequently passed her PhD oral examination. Coetzer N, Myburg AA, Berger DK.


4 Jul 2014

Prof Brenda Wingfield wins NSTF award

FABI was once again in the limelight at last night's 2013/14 NSTF-BHP Billiton gala dinner and awards ceremony. Read more on Brenda's award in today's Mail and Guardian or look at the complete list of winners in the NSTF-BHP Billiton Awards eNewsletter (attached). Photo: Prof Wingfield with her trophy, together with Dr Steve Lennon (left), group executive of Eskom, and Minister Naledi Pandor of the Department Science and Technology (right).


2 Jul 2014

Mondi and FABI representatives strategize in the fight against forest pests and diseases

The Tree Protection Co-operative Programme (TPCP) in FABI has a 25 year long history of close collaboration with members of the South African Forestry Industry.


1 Jul 2014

FABI/CTHB delegation visits the University of Venda

Six faculty and student members of the Centre of Excellence for Tree Health Biotechnology traveled to the University of Venda the week of 22 June, and then north to the Tshikundamalema region of the Limpopo province.


30 Jun 2014

Steven Hussey flies through his PhD oral exam!

On Friday Steven Hussey presented his PhD prestige seminar that was followed by his oral examination. Photo: Steven just after presenting his Prestige Seminar together with his external examiner, Prof Carl Douglas (left), and his supervisors, Prof Zander Myburgh and Dr Eshchar Mizrachi (far right). PUBLICATIONS Hussey SG, Mizrachi E, Creux NM, Myburg AA. Hussey SG, Mizrachi E, Spokevicius AV, Bossinger G, Berger DK, Myburg M. Myburg AA, Grattapglia D, Tuskan GA, Hellsten U, Hayes RD, Grimwood J, Jenkins J, Lindquist E, Tice H, Bauer D, Goodstein DM, Dubchak I, Poliakov A, Mizrachi E, Kullan ARK, Hussey SG, Pinard D, Van der Merwe K, Singh P, et al.  


26 Jun 2014

FABI strengthens ties with China

Since the establishment of FABI in 1998, the institute has been involved in various collaborations with China and Chinese scholars. Over the years, FABI's involvement in China has also been generously supported by both the Chinese and South African governments (via the National Research Foundation). Photos Top: Prof Mike Wingfield welcomes Counselor Wei Huang (left) and Second Secretary HongBo Ren (right) of the Division Science and Technology at the Chinese Embassy, to FABI. Bottom: (Back row) Dr Shuaifei Chen (Chinese leader of the CFTPP at CERC, China, and honorory lecturer in FABI), Ms Feifei Liu (PhD Student), Mr Mingliang Yin (PhD student), Mr Runlei Chang (PhD student), Mr Stephen Taerum (Phd Student), MS Gabrielle Carstensen (PhD student), Mr HongBo Ren, Dr Wilhelm de Beer (Leader of Chinese projects in FABI).  


25 Jun 2014

FABIans visit Futuragene in China

During a recent visit to Shanghai, China, team members of FABI who attended the 13th International Conference on Plant Pathogenic Bacteria (ICPPB), also made use of the opportunity to visit the offices of FuturaGene Biotechnology, a company specializing in genetically enhanced woody crops for plantations and biofuels. Photo: Profs Xudong Zhou, Ian Toth, Teresa Coutinho, Fanus Venter and Dr James Zhang.


24 Jun 2014

Six FABIans attend the 13th International Conference on Plant Pathogenic Bacteria (ICPPB) in China

Several staff and student members of FABI attended the 13th International Conference on Plant Pathogenic Bacteria (ICPPB) that was held in Shanghai, China, from the 8th to 13th June 2014. ORAL PRESENTATIONSCarstensen GD, Venter SN, Chen SF, Wingfield MJ, Coutinho TA. Du Plessis M, Steenkamp ET, Coetzee MPA, Coutinho TA, Venter SN. Mosina G, Tanui C, Coutinho T, Moleleki L. Sibanda S, Shyntum D, Theron J, Coutinho TA. POSTERSCarstensen GD, Venter SN, Wingfield MJ, Coutinho TA. Sibanda S, Pretorius R, Moleleki L, Theron J, Coutinho TA. Weller-Stuart T, Toth I, Theron J, Coutinho TA. Shin G, Coutinho TA, Venter SN. PHOTOFrom left to right: Phattie Sibanda, Fanus Venter, Tania Weller-Stuart, Teresa Coutinho, Gabrielle Carstensen, and Lucy Moleleki.


19 Jun 2014

SAASTA officials visit FABI in bid to assist with science communication

On 19 June 2013 a correspondence piece, entitled Young scientists: Public engagement should start early, written by Prof Bernard Slippers of FABI, was published in Nature. Is it pure coincidence then that one year later, on June 19th 2014, a meeting was called in FABI with the improvement of science communication as its theme? 1) The presentation of science communication workshops by PUB officials to FABI staff and students. The meeting has certainly served to enthuse the FABIans present to become more involved in science communication, and we look forward to collaborating with PUB to achieve this goal. Photo: Attendees of the FABI-PUB meeting about science cummunication.


11 Jun 2014

First FABI research paper in NATURE!

We congratulate Prof Zander Myburg and several other members of the FMG (Forest Molecular Genetics) Research Group in FABI with the publication of the first full research article from FABI to appear in the prestigious journal Nature. Eucalyptus grandis is one of the most widely planted commercial forestry crops globally and is grown mainly for timber, pulp and paper production, but increasingly also for “chemical cellulose” – a form of pure cellulose that is used in a wide variety of industrial products from textiles to pharmaceuticals. The project to sequence the Eucalyptus grandis genome involved 80 researchers from 30 institutions across 18 countries. South Africa’s Department of Science and Technology (DST), together with forestry companies Sappi and Mondi, supported Prof Myburg and his team by funding the construction of the genome map used as a scaffold for genome assembly, as well as the sequencing of expressed genes used for annotation of the genome. Photo: A Eucalyptus grandis tree and the University of Pretoria authors on the Nature article. Other publications from the FMG group related to the Eucalyptus genome can be viewed here.  


9 Jun 2014

Congratulations to Amy Wooding for completing her MSc Cum Laude!

As her thesis title states, Amy's project investigated the “Sex determination and symbiont transmission in the Sirex-Amylostereum mutualism”. For her experimental chapters she worked on collections from two distinct regions. The second and third research chapters of Amy’s MSc focused on South African populations of S. Through this thesis Amy made an exceptional contribution to the knowledge in the field. We congratulate Amy and wish her well for her PhD at Auburn University in the USA. Supervisors: Bernard Slippers, Jaco Greeff, Brett Hurley, Jeff Garnas, Mike Wingfield


7 Jun 2014

New book in honour of the late Prof Wally Marasas, Extraordinary Professor in FABI

A new visually, artistically and taxonomically interesting book, compiled by three mycologists with links to FABI, was recently launched at a special ceremony during the Annual Spring Symposium of the CBS held at the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Prof Walter Marasas, or Wally, as most people knew him, was one of the best known mycologists ever to come from South Africa. The team followed a unique approach. Sadly, Prof Marasas passed away in June 2012 before the project was completed.    


2 Jun 2014

FABIans organize the 2014 SA Bioinformatics and Genetics Society Congress

A team of FABIans, under the leadership of Prof Zander Myburgh, are on the organizing committee of the next joint SA Bioinformatics and Genetics Society Congress to be held at Kwalata Game Ranch north of Pretoria from 23-26 September 2014. According to Prof Myburgh they have a fantastic line-up of international guest speakers and a great conference venue in the African Bushveld that will allow excellent opportunities for interaction with the plenary speakers and with other attendees (picture evening discussions around a camp fire in the boma! The extended deadline for abstracts (for oral presentations) is 30 June, but they expect that the main lodge accommodation will soon fill up. Please contact the Congress Secretariat if you would be interested in booking out one of the nearby lodges for your research group or department.  


30 May 2014

20th Advanced Phylogenetics Workshop held in FABI

During the past week (26-30 May 2014) the 20th Advanced Phylogenetics Workshop took place in FABI. Photo: A happy (but somewhat mentally tired!


29 May 2014

DISEASE ALERT: A new disease of black wattle in South Africa

Earlier this year a new disease of Acacia mearnsii (black wattle) was reported to the TPCP by farmers in the KZN Midlands.


28 May 2014

Arista Fourie passes her MSc Cum Laude!

We are pleased to announce that Arista Fourie received a distinction for her MSc thesis entitled: Distinguishing between cryptic species in the Ceratocystis fimbriata sensu lato species complex. Congratulations Arista! Photo: Arista (middle in blue) celebrates her achievement with fellow lab mates Alisa Postma, Dr Irene Barnes (Supervisor) and Katrin Fitza.  


24 May 2014

FABIans take part in the UP open day

On Saturday 24 May an estimated 25 000 prospective students and their parents, friends and relatives flooded the UP campus to explore all possible areas of study and career opportunities.


23 May 2014

The CIRCUS is coming to FABI!

The chairperson for the FABI social club, Stephanie van Wyk, today announced the theme for this year's SPOOF meeting: CIRCUS CARNIVAL! All Fabians are invited to attend the Circus Carnival at the Plant Sciences Complex on 25th July at 18:00 (Invitation attached). You have two months for planning your PRESENTATIONS! We are also happy to announce that the TRAVEL GRANTS have been substantially increased from 2. Two months are also enough time to DESIGN your costumes. SEE YOU THERE!  


21 May 2014

Mkhululi Maphosa passes his MSc: congratulations!

Mkhululi Maphosa this week received the results of his MSc thesis examination. Photo: Mkhululi with his thesis and supervisors, Brenda Wingfield (left) and Emma Steenkamp (right).