Mr Byron Sonnekus
I obtained my undergraduate degree in Microbiology at the University of Pretoria. In 2018 I joined the Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute (FABI) as an Honours student within the Macadamia Protection Programme. My research project focused on identifying the causal agent(s) of macadamia husk rot, a fungal disease of the pericarp, in South Africa.
I am currently continuing in the Macadamia Protection Programme as a Masters student under the primary supervision of Dr Gerda Fourie and co-supervision of Prof Brett Hurley and Prof Bernard Slippers. My research focuses on the stink bug complex (Heteroptera: Pentatomidae) which is of major concern to macadamia growers in South Africa. My research aim is determining the diversity of stink bug species present in different macadamia orchards in the main growing regions of South Africa. These regions include KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo and Mpumalanga. Additionally, my research will also focus on the species diversity of the egg parasitoids (Hymenoptera: Scelionidae) associated with the stink bugs and their potential use as biocontrol agents.