Dr Mesfin Gossa

Postdoctoral Fellow


Zoology and Entomology
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I obtained B.Sc. in Agriculture (Plant Sciences) from Alemaya University, Ethiopia and worked as a junior and assistant researcher for the Ethiopian Agricultural Research Organization (EARO). I did my M.Sc. in Insect Sciences at Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia. My thesis research was focused on evaluating the insecticidal activity of crude extracts from seeds and leaves of neem tree against African bollworm, Helicoverpa armigera. I then worked for Arba Minch University and Haramaya University as a lecturer where I taught entomology and crop protection courses to undergraduate cohorts. I also obtained M.Sc. in Nematology from Ghent University, Belgium. In my thesis research, I investigated the interaction between root-feeding plant-parasitic nematodes and shoot feeding aphids in a black mustard plant. I obtained Ph.D. in Entomology from the University of Pretoria where I studied the species identity, genetic diversity, natural enemies and host utilization patterns of an invasive pine weevil in South Africa.

I studied eucalypt insect pests and their natural enemies as part of my postdoctoral research. Despite its significant socio-economic role, Eucalyptus production is heavily challenged by non-native and locally adapted insect pests throughout its introduced range. This includes many eucalypt-feeding insects that have been recently introduced in sub-Saharan Africa and pose a serious threat to the sustainability of Eucalyptus forestry in the region. To mitigate this, we developed Eucalyptus Insect Pest Project in Africa (EIPPA). In this project, we investigated the presence, distribution, prevalence, genetic diversity and host utilization patterns of eucalypt insect pests and their natural enemies in sub-Saharan Africa. This was a collaborative project which involved various stakeholders across sub-Saharan Africa. Results from this project will be useful to inform management strategies of eucalypt insect pest in the region. 


My current research focuses on monitoring plant health in sentinel sites such as botanic gardens and arboreta across South Africa. This is a SANBI Biological Invasion Directorate (SANBI BID) funded postdoctoral research project. The project was initiated in 2016 under the frame work of the International Plant Sentinel Network IPSN (www.plantsentinel.org) to improve surveillance and identification of new and emerging pest risks in South Africa. Besides using botanic gardens and arboreta as an early warning system to identify new pest and pathogen threats, the project aims at identifying pre-existing plant health issues. It also works towards building capacity of garden staff in monitoring, detection and management of pests and diseases. It is a collaborative project which involves various stakeholders, including SANBI, FABI, International Plant Sentinel Network (IPSN), horticulturalists and arborists from various botanic gardens and some international scientists in the field of plant health.  

  • PhD in Entomology, Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute (FABI), University of Pretoria, South Africa. Thesis title: Ecology and diversity of introduced Pissodes (Coleoptera: Curculionidae) in South Africa
  • MSc in Nematology, Department of Biology, Ghent University, Belgium. Thesis title: Effects of root-feeding nematodes on shoot herbivorous insects 
  • MSc in Insect Sciences, Department of Biology, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Thesis title: Effects of neem extracts on the feeding, survival, longevity and fecundity of African bollworm, Helicoverpa armigera (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) 
  • BSc in Plant Sciences, Department of Plant Sciences, Alemaya University, Ethiopia. Senior project: Diversity and spatial structure of home-garden plant species in Alemaya district, Ethiopia 

Undergraduate courses 

  • General Entomology, Department of Biology, Arba Minch University, Ethiopia (2017)
  • Applied Entomology, Department of Applied Biology, Arba Minch University, Ethiopia (2017)
  • Applied Climatology and Agrometeorology, Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Management, Haramaya University, Ethiopia (2008-2010)
  • Management of Crop Pests and Diseases of Economic Importance, School of Plant Sciences and Department of Crop Production and Protection, Haramaya University, Ethiopia (2008-2010)
  • Weeds and their Management, Harar Agro-technical College, Ethiopia (2009)

Postgraduate (MSc) course

  • Agricultural Nematology, School of Plant Sciences, Haramaya University, Ethiopia (2012) 



Ethiopian researchers visit FABI, ICFR and local forestry companies

Researchers from EEFRI visited FABI, the ICFR and several forestry companies on a recent two week long trip research trip to SA.

Survey of wattle pests and pathogens in Awi Zone, Ethiopia

FABI has partnered with the University of the Sunshine Coast and ICFR to develop a research project to determine the diversity and distribution of wattle pests and pathogens in the Awi Zone of Ethiopia, and investigate potential management options.

SANBI-funded Sentinel Plant Project establishes a PSHB monitoring system at the KZN National Botanical Garden

As part of the Sentinel Plant Project, Dr Mesfin Gossa has, in collaboration with the KZN NBG set up a PSHB monitoring system for the London plane trees.

A double celebration for Agil as she completes her PhD

It was a double celebration for Agil Katumanyane when she successfully defended het PhD on 30 November.

Assessment of plant health in the Cape botanical gardens

Postdoctoral research Fellow, Dr Mesfin Gossa visited three botanical gardens in the Western Cape Province as part of the SANBI-funded Sentinel Plant Project.

SANBI’s Sentinel Plant Project renders training support for horticulture students at DUT

Recently, FABI had established a collaboration partnership with the Department of Horticulture at Durban University of Technology (DUT) to train students through the SANBI Sentinel Plant Project.

FABI well represented at ESSA

From 28 June until 1 July, academic staff, postdoctoral Fellows and students from FABI attended the 22nd Biennial Entomological Society of Southern Africa (ESSA) Congress.

SANBI Sentinel Plant Project hosts a training workshop for DUT horticulture students

In April 2021, FABIans met with staff members of the Department of Horticulture at Durban University of Technology (DUT) to discuss possibilities for student training through the Sentinel Plant Project.

Student training through the SANBI-funded Sentinel Plant Project in South African botanical gardens

Drs. Mesfin Gossa and Trudy Paap initiated a link with the Department of Horticulture at the Durban University of Technology (DUT) to discuss possibilities of student training via the Sentinel Plant Project.

Treatment trials established to fight Phytophthora die-back in Kirstenbosch gardens

South Africa’s iconic silver trees (Leucadendron argenteum) are listed as Endangered (EN) in the Red List of South African Plants.

Inspection of invasive disease and pest problems in SANBI's Cape gardens

During the week of 9 November, a FABI team including Prof. Mike Wingfield, Prof. Brenda Wingfield, Dr Trudy Paap, Dr Mesfin Gossa and Dr Hiroyuki Suzuki visited botanical gardens in the Western Cape Province.

A webinar on Plant Health in Botanical Gardens amid the COVID-19 pandemic

It has been just over four years since the SANBI-funded postdoctoral project ‘Monitoring plant health in sentinel sites: botanical gardens and arboreta’ started.

Collaborative effort reveals diversity and distribution of eucalypt insect pests across 14 African countries

In 2017, a collaborative project was developed with the aim of understanding the distribution and genetic diversity of Eucalyptus insect pests and their natural enemies in sub-Saharan Africa.

Significant FABI presence at ESSA Congress

The 21st Congress of the Entomological Society of Southern Africa (ESSA) with the theme “Innovative Entomology” was held in Umhlanga in the KwaZulu-Natal Province from 8-11 July.

Monitoring plant health in botanic gardens and arboreta across South Africa

Recently, Drs Mesfin Gossa and Trudy Paap assessed plant health in eight gardens across South Africa, including Arderne Gardens, Durban Botanic Garden, Pretoria National Zoological Garden, and Harold Porter, Kirstenbosch, KwaZulu-Natal, Pretoria and Walter Sisulu National Botanical Gardens.

Eucalypt insect pest survey in Ghana and Sierra Leone

FABI postdoctoral research Fellow Dr Mesfin Gossa recently visited MIRO Forestry Company in Ghana and Sierra Leone, as part of the Eucalyptus Insect Pest Project in Africa (EIPPA). This project is led by Proff Brett Hurley, Bernard Slippers and Dr Gossa, and currently covers over 15 countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

FABIans attend an insect mass-rearing workshop

Dr Gerda Fourie, research leader of the Macadamia Protection Programme (MPP) and Dr Mesfin Gossa, Postdoctoral Fellow in the Tree Protection Co-operative Programme (TPCP) attended an Insect Mass-Rearing Workshop held from 23-27 October at Stellenbosch University.

Export to RIS
Wondafrash M, Slippers B, Asfaw BA, Makowe IA, Jenya H, Bush S, Kayumba I, Nambazimana A, van der Lingen S, Hurley BP. (2021) Tracing the distribution of natural enemies of non-native invasive eucalypt insect pests in sub- Saharan Africa. Southern Forests: a Journal of Forest Science 83(3):1-10. 10.2989/20702620.2021.1960218
Wondafrash M, Wingfield MJ, Wilson JRU, Hurley BP, Slippers B, Paap T. (2021) Botanical gardens as key resources and hazards for biosecurity. Biodiversity and Conservation 10.1007/s10531-021-02180-0
Wondafrash M, Slippers B, Nambazimana A, Kayumba I, Nibouche S, van der Lingen S, Asfaw BA, Jenya H, Mutitu EK, Makowe IA, Chungu D, Kiwuso P, Kulimush E, Razafindrakotomamonjy A, Bosu PP, Sookar P, Hurley BP. (2020) Distribution and genetic diversity of five invasive pests of Eucalyptus in sub-Saharan Africa. Biological Invasions 22:2205–2221. 10.1007/s10530-020-02250-4
Wondafrash M, Slippers B, Hurley BP, Garnas J. (2019) Local antagonism and resource partitioning between two invasive pine plantation pests. Agricultural and Forest Entomology 10.1111/afe.12330 PDF
Nicole M. Van Dam, Mesfin Wondafrash, Vartika Mathur , Tom O. Tytgat. (2018) Differences in hormonal signaling triggered by two root-feeding nematode species result in contrasting effects on aphid population growth. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 6(88) 10.3389/fevo.2018.00088
Wondafrash M, Slippers B, Garnas J, Hurley BP. (2017) Parasitoid assemblage associated with a North American pine weevil in South Africa. Agricultural and Forest Entomology 10.1111/afe.12246
Wondafrash M, Slippers B, Garnas J, Roux G, Foit J, Langor DW, Hurley BP. (2016) Identification and genetic diversity of two invasive Pissodes spp. Germar (Coleoptera: Curculionidae) in their introduced range in the southern hemisphere. Biological Invasions 18:2283. 10.1007/s10530-016-1159-5
Abebe E, Mekete T, Seid A, Meressa BH, Wondafrash M, Addis T, Getaneh G, Abate BA. (2015) Research on plant-parasitic and entomopathogenic nematodes in Ethiopia: a review of current state and future direction. Nematology 17(7):741-759. 10.1163/15685411-00002919
Wondafrash M, Van Dam NM, Tytgat TOG. (2013) Plant systemic induced responses mediate interactions between root parasitic nematodes and aboveground herbivorous insects.. Frontiers in Plant Sciences 4:87. 10.3389/fpls.2013.00087
Wondafrash M, Getu E, Terefe G. (2012) Survival and Feeding of African bollworm, Helicoverpa armigera (Hubner) (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) affected by Neem, Azadirachta indica (A. Juss) Extracts. World Journal of Agricultural Sciences 8(3):280-285.
Wondafrash M, Getu E, Terefe G. (2012) Neem, Azadirachta indica (A. Juss) Extracts Negatively Influenced Growth and Development of African Bollworm, Helicoverpa armigera (Hubner) (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae). Academic Journal of Entomology 5(1):22-27.
Wondafrash M, Getu E, Terefe G. (2012) Life-cycle Parameters of African bollworm, Helicoverpa armigera (Hubner) (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) affected by Neem, Azadirachta indica (A. Juss) Extracts. Agricultural Science Research Journal 2(6):335-345.