Ms Ashleigh Smith
I obtained my undergraduate degree in Genetics at the University of Pretoria in 2016. Thereafter, I joined the Macadamia Protection Programme and completed my Honours degree in Microbiology and Master’s degree in Genetics (Cum Laude). During my Honours, my research focused on the identification of the causal agent of macadamia husk rot within South Africa. My Master’s research focused on lepidopteran pests of macadamia and included identification of the dominant species, phylogenetic analyses, population structure analyses and artificial rearing of Thaumatotibia batrachopa (Meyrick,1908; Tortricidae). I also developed molecular tools (species-specific PCR and PCR-RFLP assays) for rapid identification of four reported lepidopteran pests.
At present, I am continuing in the Macadamia Protection Programme as a PhD student. My research focuses on chemical characterisation and molecular genetics of the sex pheromone of T. batrachopa. I feel strongly about reducing the use of pesticide in agriculture and am excited to contribute towards eco-friendly alternatives such as the development and implementation of effective pheromone-based products.