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).


20 May 2014

Divine Shyntum succesfully defends his PhD

We congratulate Divine Shyntum on passing his PhD oral exam on Tuesday morning after his PhD Prestige on Monday. The topic of his PhD was The functional characterization of the Type VI secretion system in Pantoea ananatis, under the leadership of Prof Teresa Coutinho, Prof Fanus Venter and Dr Lucy Moleleki. Shyntum DY, Venter SN, Moleleki LN, Toth I, Coutinho TA.  


19 May 2014

FABIans contribute more than 180 blankets to the TUKS FM Wooly Winter campaign 2013

On Friday last week members of the FABI social club loaded a FABI 4x4 to the brim with blankets and warm clothes and delivered these to the offices of TUKS FM. We would like to thank the PEP at Hatfield Plaza for their contributions to our blanket drive this year. by Matt Laubscher Photos: (Top) The fabulous FABIans on their way to deliver the blankets at TUKS FM , and (bottom) at the TUKS FM offices together with TUKS FM DJ's Franco Nieman (Back, left) and (front, f. More photo's of the event can be viewed in the gallery.


15 May 2014

FABI says goodbye to our longtime information specialist, Marié Theron

Since 2001, Marié Theron has been the Information Specialist in the UP Department of Library Services tasked with providing support to FABI. Marié recently decided to move closer to her family down in the Western Cape, where she will take up a senior position in the library of the University of Stellenbosch. Photo: Prof Brenda Wingfield, Marié Theron and Prof Mike Wingfield at the farewell tea.


14 May 2014

Bridging the ‘Innovation Chasm’ – Celebrating 25 years of the Tree Protection Cooperative Programme (TPCP)

For many centuries, people all over the globe have been fascinated by the origin of species, which factors safeguard their status quo, and where they are headed given probable change – the trifecta of existence, as it were. The mission of the TPCP to support all stakeholders in plantation forestry in South Africa was highlighted by having Mr. The annual meeting of the TPCP is one of the vehicles used to communicate the latest research results to the industry partners. There was a “golden thread” in most of the talks held this year – as a country South Africa requires an improved understanding of species arriving in the country accidentally. Also invited to address the TPCP was Prof. Concerning field extension, it was clear from the meetings that the advancement of science and technology over the past couple of decades is strongly and positively correlated with the advancement of disease diagnosis and treatment. All in all, after 25 years, it is clear that the TPCP has had a huge impact, and continues to be the world leader in keeping plantation trees healthy. by Dr Casper Crous  Photos Top: Patrick Kime, CEO of NCT with Mike Wingfield, Director of the TPCP. Middle: Prof Manuel Mota from the University of Évora in Portugal, presenting his talk on the global impact of the pinewood nematode. Bottom: An attentive audience of industry stakeholders, researchers and postgraduate students of the TPCP. An extensive collection of photographs covering all the events over the two day symposium can be viewed here, and the programme with titles of presentations during the symposium is attached as a pdf.  


12 May 2014

Seeing the Forest for the Trees: The Annual CTHB Research Meeting

Autumn is seen as the season of change. Photo gallery of this meeting.


11 May 2014

FABI leaders shine at the UP Academic Achievers Awards

The University of Pretoria Academic Achievers Awards function, held on Tuesday 6 May, is a highlight on the calendar of the University. Exceptional Academic achievers Prof Zander MyburgProf Jolanda RouxNRF Rated ResearchersProf Brenda Wingfield - ADr Jeff Garnas - YDr Juan Voster - YDr Lucy Moleleki - YThe function was attended by most of the administrative and academic leaders of the University, as well as high-level leaders in science from outside the University. Photo left: Prof Brenda Wingfield receives her NRF A-rating! Photos attached: From top to bottom, Proff Zander Myburg and Jolanda Roux receive their exceptional academic achievers awards, and Drs Jeff Garnas and Juan Vorster being congratulated with their Y ratings.


10 May 2014

Surprise party for FABI director’s 60th birthday

On Friday 9 May, almost 200 FABIans gathered secretly on the roof of the Plant Sciences Building for the 60th birthday celebration of the director of FABI, Prof Mike Wingfield.


9 May 2014

Bertha-Lucia Castro successfully defends her PhD thesis: Congratulations!

Bertha Lucía Castro Caicedo yesterday presented her PhD prestige seminar in FABI, entitled Diseases of coffee with particular reference to those affecting stems and roots in Colombia. Photo: Bertha Lucía Castro together with her supervisors Prof Jolanda Roux (left), Mike Wingfield (right) and her external examiner, Dr Liliane Petrini (second from right), after her thesis defense. Castro BL, Carreño AJ, Galeano NF, Roux J, Wingfield MJ, Gaitán AL. Castro Caicedo BL, Cortina Guerrero HA, Roux J, Wingfield MJ.


6 May 2014

Advanced Microscopy Course Held on 6 May 2014 for FABI Students

Earlier this year the need was identified for regular microscopy courses to assist and guide resident FABI students.


24 Apr 2014

FABI also welcomes the new Honours students in Microbiology

Welcome to the 2014 Honours students of the Microbiology Department who will be doing their projects with FABI supervisors. Back (from left to right): Benedicta Swalarsk-Parry, Ashleigh Geldenhuys, Stefan Priem Front (from left to right): Miranda Erasmus, Inge Pietersen, Boitumelo Ntlatleng, Nompumelelo Msiza Absent: Gibson Gondo and Erika Bruck


24 Apr 2014

“The Winter Heater” FABI Blanket Drive 2014

FABIans, please join us for the annual FABI blanket drive! Blankets and warm clothes can be brought to the foyer in FABI. For more information, you can contact Matt Laubscher, who is the FABI Social Club representative in charge of this year's campaign (Marius. Photo: The 'before photo' of a rather empty looking Winter Heater corner in the FABI foyer.