FABI-6.jpg


PhD student

Department

FABI
Short CV
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

My Files

My Links

Primary Supervisor
Bernard Slippers

Co Supervisor
Jeremy Allison

Sirex noctilio male (orange) and female (black)


AIM

I’ve integrated FABI and TPCP in April 2016 under the supervision of Prof Bernard Slippers and Dr Jeremy Allison. I turn my interest toward the chemical and visual ecology of Sirex noctilio. My purpose is to know more about pheromonal and kairomonal communication and if we can use it to improve the actual trap. Additionally, I try to understand better how and why the wasp see it environment. 

Background

Sirex noctilio is a woodwasp native from eurasia (Fig 1). It has been introduced all around the word, where pines plantation are present. The woodwasp quickly become a invasive pest where it has been introduced because it can damaged and killed pine trees. When the woodwasp what to lay eggs, it makes a hole with its ovipositor in the bark of the pine. Then it to introduce eggs, mucus, and a symbiotic fungus needed for the progeny development. Firstly, the resin is popping out the tree when a hole is drilled, making the tree weaker. Secondly, the larvae feed of the wood inside the tree for its development, which affect the health of the tree and the quality of the wood. Finally, the combine effect of the mucus and the fungus dry the tree and can lead to its death. In some cases, hundreds of Sirex can attack one tree, and plantation can have a hight infestation perception (up to 90% in south america). All these factors makes Sirex noctilio one of the worst pine pest for forest industry.

If you want to know more about pine industry and the Sirex problem in South-Africa click here to see a nice article and video made by University of Pretoria!

Click here to access the sirex woodwasp working group. A website with a lot of literature and picture regarding Sirex.

 


Part 1: Attractive compounds

To find a way to manage this pest, I’m trying to find pheromones (from conspecific individuals) or kairomones (from the symbiotic fungus as Amylostereum areolatum). Thanks to the GC-EAD system we do have in FABI, I'm able to separate volatile compound and screen them one by one through the insect antenna. This technic allow me to record if the insect is sensitive or not to each different molecules. So far, I've confirmed the male pheromone found by Cooperband and his colleagues (2012). I also found potential interesting molecule I'll test soon during behavioural tests. These part of the project aim to create (or improve) chemicals lures used to trap S. noctilio in pine plantation.

 


Part 2: Visual ecology

Furthermore, I also study the eyes of the wood wasp. I try to determine what color can Sirex see? The absorption on different wavelength (colours) is due to a protein called an opsin. Different shaped opsin will absorb different wavelength. Opsin are well conserved across insects. Additionally, they group together in 4 category relying to the wavelength they can absorb: long (green, yellow, orange red), medium (blue-green), short (blue) and ultra-short (UV). After I've made a phylogenetic tree of visual opsin in insects, I investigated S. noctilio genome and found 3 visual opsin fitting in these different groups. My next move is to confirm this result with RNA extraction in compound eyes and ocelli. Additionally, I'll perform behavioural tests to investigate if there is any attractive colour. The final aim of these project is to increase te number of sirex we can trip in the field thanks to coloured trap. Additionally, we are using S. noctilio as a model in evolution of visual opsin in insect (see poster ESSA).

 

This PhD, due to its diversity, is a combination of different skills as behavioral tests, chemical ecology, bioinformatics, chemistry, mycology, and many more. It additionally involve a lot of different interaction in between academic staff, researcher, industry leadership and forestry worker. 

 



Poster presentation at ESSA/ZSSA 2017

TPCP-CTHB meeting in Pretoria (16-18 May 2016)

MOOC in Medical Entomology with Institut Pasteur (France, 2016)

Chemical ecology symposium in Pretoria (31st of October - 02nd of November 2016)

Annual General meeting of Zoology and Entomology department in Pretoria (24-25 of November 2016)

ESSA-ZSSA Combined congress (3-7 July 2017)

Presentation of a posters: "Identification and evolutionary relationships of genes linked to color vision in Sirex noctilio" (see My link).

Chairperson for the sessions "Nutrients and Toxins" and "Communication".

Genomic research institute (GRI) symposium (10th of November 2017)

Presentation of a posters: "Identification and evolutionary relationships of genes linked to color vision in Sirex noctilio" (see My link).

 Annual General meeting of Zoology and Entomology department in Pretoria (23-24 of November 2017)

Presentation of a talk: "Have a look into the eyes of Sirex noctilio".

Chairperson for the session 3.


2017:

Guest lecturer for the module ZEN 363 (Behavioural ecology) under Prof. Christian Pirk supervision. The lecture is given to 3rd year of zoology and is focus on chemical ecology and how to apply it to a pest management program.

Demonstrator under Dr. Chris Weldon supervision, for the module ZEN 363 (Physiological processes) give to 3rd years of zoology.

 


FABI award

Best student website 2017


2015-2016: Master in Chemical ecology with distinction at University of Lorient (France). During this master, I had the opportunity to integrate the INRA of Versailles under the supervision of Prof Frerot Brigitte. I was analysing the mix of odors emit by crop fields to protect them against an insect pest.

20012-2014: Master in Biodiversity-Ecology-Environment with distinction at university Joseph Fourier win Grenoble (France). I could accomplish an internship at IRBI institute (Tours, France) on the cuticular hydrocarbon in the Asian hornet. I was able to prove than the developmental stage is the major factor influencing the cuticular profile from young larvae to adult (colony, social status and sex were less important).

2009-2012: Licence (undergrad) in general biology


International Society of Chemical Ecology (ISCE) Click here

Entomological Society of Southern Africa (ESSA) Click here

 


FABIans celebrate another year of research excellence at the 2017 year-end gala dinner and awards ceremony

The 2017 FABI year-end gala dinner and awards ceremony marked 20 years since the founding of the Institute and an historic turning point in its future. Former Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Free State, who had previously served as the Dean of the Faculty of Education at UP, Prof. Prof. Dr. Best FABI MSc: Drew Behrens Best student publication: Valentine Nakato Best FABI Post-doc publication: Dr Alistair McTaggart FABI award “Getting the message to the public”: Juanita Avontuur, Arista Fourie, Angel Maduke and Benedicta Swalarsk-Parry who make up the CTHB Outreach Team FABI award for mentorship: Benedicta Swalarsk-Parry and Jonathan Botha FABI award recognising contributions by a member of staff at the University of Pretoria: Prof Susan Adendorff Best student website: Quentin Guignard FABI award recognising contributions by a person external to FABI: Sally Upfold of the Institute for Commercial Forestry Research FABI Photographic Awards: FABIans at work: Prof. FABI research: Angelique du Preez FABIan of the Year: Andi Wilson Honours students with projects at FABI received their special 2017 Honours T-shirt.

FABIans welcome spring in a kaleidoscope of colour!

FABI held its annual Spring Tea in the FABI Courtyard on 1 September.

Chinese Embassy delegation visits FABI

FABI was honoured to receive a visit on 28 July by a delegation from the Pretoria Embassy of the People’s Republic of China, led by Counselor Huang Wei. They were shown the research work being undertaken at the FABI Biocontrol Centre at the University of Pretoria’s experimental farm. The Institute has had a long association with China through the CERC-FABI Tree Protection Programme (CFTPP), a cooperative venture between the China Eucalypt Research Centre (CERC) of the Chinese Academy of Forestry in China, and FABI. The CFTPP arose from a long-term collaboration between the two institutions that was formally established in 2014.

FABIans attend the 2017 Combined Congress of the Entomological and Zoological Societies of Southern Africa

The 2017 Combined Congress of the Entomological and Zoological Societies of Southern Africa took place from 3-7 July at the CSIR International Convention Centre, Pretoria, South Africa. Sixteen FABIans, including academic staff, postdoctoral Fellows and postgraduate students attended the congress, making a significant contribution to the meeting of 11 oral presentations and seven posters. Oral Presenation: Novel natural enemy encounters of an invasive forest insect pest - M Wondafrash, B Slippers, J Garnas, BP Hurley Behavioral response of the bark beetle, Ips typographus, to commonly associated ophiosomatoid fungi - D Kandasamy, A Hammerbacher Host specificity of the parasitoid Psyllaephagus bliteus, a biological control agent of Glycaspis brimblecombei - S Bush, B Slippers, BP Hurley The Leptocybe invasa genome: a window to understanding the biology of a serious invasive Eucalyptus pest - G Dittrich-Schröder, BP Hurley, MJ Wingfield, A Postma- Smidt, B Slippers The complex Leptocybe invasa gall community on Eucalyptus - CR Gevers, G Dittrich-Schröder, SJ Bush, A Morris, I Germishuizen, B Slippers, BP Hurley Influence of reproductive biology on the invasive capacity of Hymenoptera species: Sirex noctilio as a case study - J Queffelec, J Allison, B Slippers Genetic diversity of Deladenus siricidicola, the biological control agent of the woodwasp Sirex noctilio - K Fitza, J Garnas, M Ayres, F Krivak-Tetley, K Dodds, M Lombardero, Ecki Brockerhoff, MJ Wingfield, B Slippers Diversity in the Sirex-Amylostereum-Deladenus complex: understanding pest invasion and guiding management through biological control - XO Mlonyeni, BD Wingfield, JM Greeff, MJ Wingfield, B Slippers Molecular and chemical ecology are important for the management of emerging pests in plantation forestry - B Slippers, BP Hurley, J Allison, MJ Wingfield Speed Talks: Management of insect pests in planted forests: Challenges of developing economies - BP Hurley, B Slippers, S Sathyapala, MJ Wingfield Optimization of pheromone traps for Coryphodema tristis (Lepidoptera: Cossidae) - M Bouwer, J Allison, B Slippers Posters: Sirex noctilio host susceptibility and utilisation patterns - L Eksteen, J Garnas, BP Hurley A survey of entomopathogenic Beauveria spp. Evidence for convergent evolution of ambrosia fungi in the Ophiostomatales (Ascomycota) - M Erasmus, TA Duong, MJ Wingfield, ZW de Beer Novel fungal symbionts of Dendroctonus valens (Curculionidae, Scolytinae) - S Marincowtiz, SJ Taerum, TA Duong, MJ Wingfield, ZW de Beer Fungal associates of conifer-infesting bark beetles and their phoretic mites from Yunnan province, China - R Chang, TA Duong, SA Taerum, MJ Wingfield, ZW de Beer Identification and evolutionary relationships of genes linked to colour vision in Sirex noctilio - Q Guignard, B Slippers, J Allison Distribution and thermal thresholds of Gonipterus species (Coleoptera: Curculionidae) in Australia - M Schroder, H Nahrung, S Lawson, B Slippers, MJ Wingfield, BP Hurley

Lots of wild and outrageous science at SPOOF 2017!

On 7 July, the University of Pretoria’s Rautenbach Hall was transformed into “Piney Town”, a small town in the Wild West, for the 21st Annual Meeting of the Society for the Presentation of Outrageous Findings (SPOOF). Scientists presented their findings of varying degrees of outrageousness at this year’s SPOOF meeting. In the "eyes" of the audience, two presentations stood out as most exceptional. The Best Dressed Female award went to Josephine Queffelec who came dressed as a Native American totem pole. For the second year running, Quentin Guignard took home the Best Dressed Male award for his costume as one of the villainous Sirex Brothers terrorising the trees of Piney Town.