Dr Wilma Nel



Postdoctoral Fellow

Department

FABI
Full CV
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Research Profiles

I completed my undergraduate degree in Microbiology in 2014 at the University of Pretoria. I then continued at the University of Pretoria for my postgraduate studies and completed my Honours and Masters degrees under the primary supervision of Prof. Wilhelm de Beer in 2015 and 2018 respectively. My Honours project focussed on investigating seemingly fungicolous Ophiostomatalean species occurring within the mounds of fungus-farming termites. During this work we isolated three new species of Ophiostoma-like fungi from the aged Termitomyces combs taken from the mounds. However, conventional phylogenetic approaches using single and multi locus sequence analyses were not enough to properly resolve these species, something we later addressed during my PhD.

The focus of Masters research was the plant pathogen Thielaviopsis basicola (Microascales:Ceratocystidaceae). This fungus causes the disease commonly known as black root rot on many agriculturally important plant species and has posed serious problems to some agricultural industries. My investigation into the species found that T. basicola represented two cryptic sister species in a new genus. We described this genus as Berkeleyomyces after the Rev. Berkeley who originally described T. basicola and introduced B. basicola and B. rouxiae (Nel et al. 2018. Plant Pathology). As the pathogen was thought to be asexual we also investigated the structure of its mating locus. We found that although no sexual state is known for either Berkeleyomyces species, both contained all the genes necessary for heterothallic mating (Nel et al. 2018. Fungal Biology).

After completion of my Masters, I started my PhD research under the primary supervision of Dr. Tuan Duong and co-supervision of Prof. Wilhelm de Beer and Prof. Mike Wingfield. The primary focus of my PhD was investigating the diversity of bark and ambrosia beetles in South Africa and their associated fungal symbionts. Additionally, we also investigated the patterns shared within the genomes of bark and ambrosia beetle symbiotic fungi. From this work we have reported one ambrosia beetle species and two species of ambrosia fungi from South Africa for the first time, as well as described two new species of ambrosia beetle associated fungi (Nel et al. 2021. Zootaxa & Antonie van Leeuwenhoek). We have also prepared the first complete list of bark and ambrosia beetle species present in South Africa which is in preparation for publication in 2022.

In addition to the work on bark and ambrosia beetle associated Ophiostomatoid fungi, my PhD offered me the opportunity and new skills to further investigate the Ophiostoma-like fungi originally isolated in my Honours. Using phylogenomic methods similar to those employed in the comparative genomic study in my PhD, we could conclusively show that the new species we isolated resided in two new genera in the Ophiostomatales. Subsequently, we described the two genera as Intubia and Chrysosphaeria and introduce the three species I. macrotermitinarum, I. oerlemansii and C. jan-nelii in the Ophiostomatales (Nel et al. 2021. Mycologia).

Currently, I am working as a post-doctoral fellow at FABI investigating methods of biological control against the polyphagous shot hole borer (PSHB - Euwallacea fornicatus). We are currently investigating various means to control this invasive beetle including entomopathogenic fungi, parasitoids, and other predators.

Presentations

50th Anniversary Congress of the South African Society of Plant Pathology (SASPP) 2017

Title: Multigene sequence analyses reveal a new genus and a new species in a globally important, multi-host root pathogen

Authors: W.J. Nel, T.A. Duong, B.D. Wingfield, M.J. Wingfield, Z.W. de Beer

South African Society for Systematic Biology (SASSB) 2017

Title: Multigene sequence data reveals that the root rot pathogen Thielaviopsis basicola constitutes two sister species in a new genus

Authors: W.J. Nel, T.A. Duong, B.D. Wingfield, M.J. Wingfield, Z.W. de Beer

South African Association of Botanists (SAAB) Conference 2018

Title: Cryptic heterothallic mating system discovered in the important root pathogens previously known as Thielaviopsis basicola (Award: Best lightning presentation)

Authors: W.J. Nel, T.A. Duong, A. Hammerbacher, B.D. Wingfield, M.J. Wingfield, Z.W. de Beer

Joint conference of the South African Society for Bioinformatics and the South African Genetics Society (SASBi/SAGS) 2018

Title: Genomic basis of convergent evolution in beetle-associated Sordariomycete fungi.

Authors: W.J. Nel, B.D. Wingfield, A. McTaggart, M.J. Wingfield, Z.W. de Beer, H-J. Lim, M. van der Nest, T.A. Duong

51st Congress of the Southern African Society for Plant Pathology (SASPP) 2019

Title: Genomic patterns of convergently evolved bark and ambrosia beetle associated fungi reveal patterns of genome reduction and gene loss

Authors: Nel, W.J., Wingfield, B.D., McTaggart, A.R., Wingfield, M.J., de Beer, Z.W., Lim, H.J., van der Nest, M.A., Duong, T.A.

Posters

50th Anniversary Congress of the SASPP 2017

Title: Fungiculous species of Ophiostomatales, including three new species from Termitomyces fungus combs

Authors: W.J. Nel, T.A. Duong, M. Poulsen, D. Aanen, S. Vreebrug, Z.W. de Beer

The 29th Fungal Genetics Conference 2017

Title: The important root rot pathogen Thielaviopsis basicola shown to be heterothallic

Authors: W.J. Nel, T.A. Duong, B.D. Wingfield, M.J. Wingfield, A. Hammerbacher, Z.W. de Beer

XIX International Botanical Congress 2017

Title: A new genus and sister species described for the globally important, multi-host root pathogen, Thielaviopsis basicola

Authors: W.J. Nel, T.A. Duong, B.D. Wingfield, M.J. Wingfield, Z.W. de Beer

Genome Research Institute (GRI) Symposium 2017

Genome sequencing reveals the root pathogens, previously known as Thielaviopsis basicola, to possess the genes required for heterothallic mating

Authors: W.J. Nel, T.A. Duong, A. Hammerbacher, B.D. Wingfield, M.J. Wingfield, Z.W. de Beer

SAAB Conference 2018

Title: A new genus and sister species for the globally important, multi-host root pathogen, Thielaviopsis basicola (Award: Runner-up best poster)

Authors: W.J. Nel, T.A. Duong, B.D. Wingfield, M.J. Wingfield, Z.W. de Beer

International Mycological Congress (IMC) 2018

Title: Taxonomy and mating strategy of Thielaviopsis basicola, a globally important pathogen of agricultural crops

Authors: W.J. Nel, T.A. Duong, A. Hammerbacher, B.D. Wingfield, M.J. Wingfield, Z.W. de Beer

51st Congress of the Southern African Society for Plant Pathology (SASPP) 2019

Title: Berkeleyomyces basicola and Berkeleyomyces rouxiae: Black root-rot pathogens of globally important crop plants.

Authors: Nel, W.J., Duong, T.A., Hammerbacher, A., Wingfield, B.D., Wingfield, M.J., de Beer, Z.W

Co-authored contributions

Combined Congress of the Entomological and Zoological Societies of Southern Africa (ESSA/ZSSA) 2017

Title: A survey of entomopathogenic Beauveria spp. in South African plantations

Authors: Z.W. de Beer, H. de Bruin, W.J. Nel, B. Slippers

SAAB Conference 2018

Title: First report of the polyphagous shothole borer (PHSB) and its fungal symbiont in South Africa

Authors: T. Paap, Z.W. De Beer, D. Migliorini, W.J. Nel, M.J. Wingfield

Title: Subspecies of the Dutch Elm Disease fungus cannot be distinguished based on multigene sequences

Authors: F. Mthunzi, R. Chang, W.J. Nel, Z.W. de Beer

 


2018-2020: Freestanding Scholarship for Doctoral students (NRF)

2016-2017: Scarce Skills Scholarship for Masters students (NRF)


2016 - Current: South African Society for Plant Pathology (SASPP)

2017 - 2018: South African Society for Systematic Biology (SASSB)

2016 & 2018: FABI social club

2018: International Mycological Association (IMA)

2018: The Mycological Society of America (MSA)

2018: South African Association of Botanists (SAAB)

2018:African Mycological Association (AMA)

 


2018: Mentorship award (FABI)

2018: Mentorship student travel award (Mycological Society of America)

2018: Best lightning presentation (SAAB)

 


News

Scouting for native natural enemies of PSHB

A team from FABI visited various sites in the greater Durban area to scout for native natural enemies of the PSHB that can be used in a biological control programme

Congratulations to Wilma Nel on completing her PhD!

Congratulations to Wilma Nel on completing all requirements for her PhD on 13 July.

Joint FABI-SASSB fungal evolution symposium

FABI and the Southern African Society of Systematic Biology (SASSB) jointly hosted a webinar with the theme ‘Fungal evolution’ on 1 July.

FABI students and postdocs engage on lab etiquette

FABI labs are buzzing again with activity, albeit within strict schedules to manage the number of people in the building and to adhere to safety regulations during the COVID-19 lockdown.

FABIans participate in bark beetle mycobiome research network meeting

On 2 September, several FABIans that form part of the bark beetle mycobiome research network took part in their 9th virtual meeting.

FABI mycologists participate in the annual MSA meeting: Mycology in the cloud

FABI students and their co-authors contributed 37 posters/graphical abstracts of the 157 of these presentations at the MSA conference.

Donating re-usable cloth face masks for the children at Steve Biko hospital

With the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, many hospitals are running low on personal protective equipment, not only for their staff but also for their incoming patients. If anyone would like to contribute to this good cause, please contact FABI Deputy Director Prof.

Data Jamboree at FABI

The Tree Protection Co-operative Programme (TPCP) in FABI hosted a “Data Jamboree” on 7 February that saw 44 students in the research programme spend the day capturing historical data from the disease clinic.

Export to RIS
Publication
Crous PW, Osieck ER;J, Shivas RG;Z, Bañares A;B, Burgess TI, Cabero J;C, Ferreira RJ;F, Ivanova DD;I, Lebeuf R;L, McTaggart AR, Mehrabi-Koushki M;M, Nel WJ, Nguyen TH;N, Reul M;R, Sato T;S, Tonegawa C;T, Visagie CM, C.M.; Vizzini A;V. (2022) Fungal Planet description sheets: 1284-1382. Persoonia - Molecular Phylogeny and Evolution of Fungi 47(6):1284-1382. 10.3767/persoonia.2021.47.06
Van Rooyen E, Paap T, De Beer ZW, Townsend G, Fell S, Nel WJ, Morgan S, Hill M, Roets F. (2021) The polyphagous shot hole borer beetle: Current status of a perfect invader in South Africa. South African Journal of Science 117(11/12) 10.17159/sajs.2021/9736
Nel WJ, De Beer ZW, Wingfield MJ, Poulsen M, Aanen DK, Wingfield BD, Duong TA. (2021) Phylogenetic and phylogenomic analyses reveal two new genera and three new species of ophiostomatalean fungi from termite fungus combs. Mycologia 113(6):1199-1217. 10.1080/00275514.2021.1950455
Crous PW, Hernández-Restrepo M, Schumacher RK, Cowan DA, Maggs-Kölling G, Marais E, Wingfield MJ, Yilmaz N, Adan OCG, Akulov A, Álvarez Duarte E, Berraf-Tebbal A, Bulgakov TS, Carnegie AJ, de Beer ZW, Decock C, Dijksterhuis C, Duong TA, Eichmeier A, Hien LT, Houbraken JAMP, Khanh TN, Liem NV, Lombard L, Lutzoni FM, Miadlikowska JM, Nel WJ, Pascoe IG, Roets F, Roux J, Samson RA, Shen M, Spetik M, Thangavel R, Thanh HM, Thao LD, van Nieuwenhuijzen EJ, Zhang JQ, Zhang Y, Zhao LL, Groenewald JZ. (2021) New and Interesting Fungi. 4. Fungal Systematics and Evolution 7:255-343. 10.3114/fuse.2021.07.13 PDF
Nel WJ, Wingfield MJ, De Beer ZW, Duong TA. (2021) Ophiostomatalean fungi associated with wood boring beetles in South Africa including two new species. Antonie van Leeuwenhoek 114(6):667-686. 10.1007/s10482-021-01548-0
Nel WJ, De Beer ZW, Wingfield MJ, Duong TA. (2020) The granulate ambrosia beetle, Xylosandrus crassiusculus (Coleoptera: Curculionidae, Scolytinae), and its fungal symbiont found in South Africa. Zootaxa 4838(3):427-435. 10.11646/zootaxa.4838.3.7
Procter M, Nel WJ, Marincowitz S, Crous PW, Wingfield MJ. (2020) A new species of Raffaelea from beetle-infested Leucaena leucocephala. Fungal Systematics and Evolution 6:305-314. 10.3114/fuse.2020.06.16
Nel WJ, Duong TA, De Beer ZW, Wingfield MJ. (2019) Black root rot: A long known but little understood disease. Plant Pathology 68(5):834-842. 10.1111/ppa.13011 PDF
Nel WJ, Duong TA, Wingfield MJ, Wingfield BD, Hammerbacher A, De Beer ZW. (2018) Heterothallism revealed in the root rot fungi Berkeleyomyces basicola and B. rouxiae. Fungal Biology 122(11):1031-1040. 10.1016/j.funbio.2018.08.006 PDF
Wingfield BD, Bills GF, Dong Y, Huang W, Nel WJ, Swalarsk-Parry BS, Vaghefi N, Wilken PM, An Z, de Beer ZW, De Vos L, Chen L, Duong TA, Gao Y, Hammerbacher A, Kikkert JR, Li Y, Li H, Li K, Li Q, Liu X, Ma X, Naidoo K, Pethybridge SJ, Sun J, Steenkamp ET, van der Nest M, van Wyk S, Wingfield MJ, Xiong C, Yue Q, Zhang X. (2018) IMA Genome-F 9 Draft genome sequence of Annulohypoxylon stygium, Aspergillus mulundensis, Berkeleyomyces basicola (syn. Thielaviopsis basicola), Ceratocystis smalleyi, two Cercospora beticola strains, Coleophoma cylindrospora, Fusarium fracticaudum, Phialophora cf. hyalina, and Morchella septimelata. IMA Fungus 9(1):199-223. 10.5598/imafungus.2018.09.01.13 PDF
Paap T, de Beer ZW, Migliorini D, Nel W, Wingfield MJ. (2018) The polyphagous shot hole borer (PSHB) and its fungal symbiont Fusarium euwallaceae: a new invasion in South Africa. Australasian Plant Pathology 47(2):231-237. 10.1007/s13313-018-0545-0 PDF
Nel WJ, Duong TA, Wingfield BD, Wingfield MJ, De Beer ZW. (2018) A new genus and species for the globally important, multi-host root pathogen Thielaviopsis basicola. Plant Pathology 67:871-882. 10.1111/ppa.12803 PDF