PhD student


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Primary Supervisor
Irene Barnes

Co Supervisor
Mike Wingfield

I had a passion for science from a young age and decided to pursue a career in biological science at the University of Pretoria. A mycological course in the second year of my degree sparked my interest in mycology and the dangers of mycotoxins as well as the importance of fungi as pathogens in the forestry industry.

joined the Centre for Applied Mycological studies (CAMS) based at the Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute based at the University of Pretoria in 2005 for my honours year and the research project was entitled mycotoxigenic fungi associated with animal feed in South Africa. The aim of this study was to determine the levels of mycotoxigenic fungi associated with various animal feed products available in South Africa and I gained knowledge in the morphological identification of fungi as well as enumeration of fungi occurring in various food commodities.

I continued my MSc specializing in microbiology in FABI and is doing a comparative study of Epicoccum sorghi associated with indigenous plants and commercially produced crops. Epicoccum sorghi is a seed- and soil-borne fungus that is mainly associated with sorghum and millet.  It is significant in that it causes a disease called Onyalai in southern Africa when ingested but not in the rest of the world.  The aim of this study is to determine whether this fungus represents a single species or if a complex of species occurs in southern Africa.  

My PhD project focuses on pine needle pathogens of quarantine significance to South Africa.  Lecanosticta acicola is the causal agent of brown spot needle blight of pines.  This disease affects pine seedlings as well as young trees and causes premature defoliation that leads to stunted growth and in severe cases mortality of the trees.  It is currently listed as an A2 quarantine pathogen in several  European countries and evidence suggests that the pathogen was introduced from North America into Europe on two different occasions.  As the origin of this species is still unknown and previoius studies suggests that Central America could be the origin, one aspect of my project focuses on investigating the occurrence of Lecanosticta  from this region further.

Dothistroma needle blight is caused by two morphologically indistinguishable species, Dothistroma pini and D. septosporum.  D. septosporum has a worldwide occurrence while D. pini has only been recorded in the Northern hemisphere.  Although population studies have been done to understand the movement of the pathogens (especially D. septosporum), little is known about the co-occurrence of these species and the movement between native and non-native Pinus species.  This aspect will also be further investigated in this study.




van der Nest, A., Wingfield, M.J., Barnes, I.  2016.  The phylogenetic diversity of Lecanosticta in Central America suggests a centre of diversity for this genus.  4th Joint congress of the SA Society for Bioinformatics and the SA Genetics Society, 20-23 September 2016, Durban, South Africa. p35  


Van der Nest, A., E.T. Steenkamp & G.J. Marais. 2009. Phylogenetic relatedness of Phoma sorghina as a mycotoxigenic fungus in South Africa. International Society for Mycotoxicology conference, 9-11 September 2009, Tullin, Austria.


Van der Nest, A., Steenkamp, E.T., Marais, G.J.  2009.  Phylogenetic definition of Phoma sorghina based on the ITS, EF-1α and β-tubulin gene regions.  46th Congress of the Southern African Society for Plant Pathology and 6th Congress of the African Mycological Association (AMA), 25 – 28 January 2009, Villa Via Hotel, Gordon’s Bay, South Africa.  p110. 


Van der Nest, A., Steenkamp, E.T., Marais, G.J.  2008.  Phylogenetic diversity of Phoma sorghina in Southern Africa.  Biennial Conference of the South African Society for Microbiology (Bio-08), Rhodes University, 21-25 January 2008. p 40.


Van der Nest, A., Steenkamp, E.T., Marais, G.J.  2008.  Phylogenetic variation within Phoma sorghina sensu lato.  20th Biennial congress of the South African Genetics Society, h Biennial congress of the South African Genetics Society, Sanlam Auditorium, University of Pretoria, 27 – 29 March 2008.  p 81.


Van der Nest, A., Steenkamp, E.T., Marais, G.J. 2007.  Phoma sorghina: a review on the complexity of its taxonomy and ecological distribution.  Abstracts of the 45th Congress of the South African Society for Plant Pathology, Kopanong, 21 – 24 January 2007.  p53.


Van der Nest, A., Marais, G.J., Lübben, A. 2006.  The Role of mycotoxigenic fungi in commercially produced animal feed.  Abstracts of the 14th Biennial Conference of the South African Society for Microbiology, CSIR International Convention Centre, 9-12 April 2006. p130.


Van der Nest, A., Marais, G.J., Lübben, A. 2006.  Fungi and their mycotoxins associated with animal feed in South Africa.  Abstracts of the 44th Congress of the South African Society for Plant Pathology, Magalies Park Country Club, 22-25 January 2006. p74.

Export to RIS
Barnes I, van der Nest A, Mullett MS, Crous PW, Drenkhan R, Musolin DL, Wingfield MJ. (2016) Neotypification of Dothistroma septosporum and epitypification of D. pini, causal agents of Dothistroma needle blight of pine. Forest Pathology 46(5):388-407. 10.1111/efp.12304