11 May 2014

FABI leaders shine at the UP Academic Achievers Awards

The University of Pretoria Academic Achievers Awards function, held on Tuesday 6 May, is a highlight on the calendar of the University. Exceptional Academic achievers Prof Zander MyburgProf Jolanda RouxNRF Rated ResearchersProf Brenda Wingfield - ADr Jeff Garnas - YDr Juan Voster - YDr Lucy Moleleki - YThe function was attended by most of the administrative and academic leaders of the University, as well as high-level leaders in science from outside the University. Photo left: Prof Brenda Wingfield receives her NRF A-rating! Photos attached: From top to bottom, Proff Zander Myburg and Jolanda Roux receive their exceptional academic achievers awards, and Drs Jeff Garnas and Juan Vorster being congratulated with their Y ratings.


10 May 2014

Surprise party for FABI director’s 60th birthday

On Friday 9 May, almost 200 FABIans gathered secretly on the roof of the Plant Sciences Building for the 60th birthday celebration of the director of FABI, Prof Mike Wingfield.


9 May 2014

Bertha-Lucia Castro successfully defends her PhD thesis: Congratulations!

Bertha Lucía Castro Caicedo yesterday presented her PhD prestige seminar in FABI, entitled Diseases of coffee with particular reference to those affecting stems and roots in Colombia. Photo: Bertha Lucía Castro together with her supervisors Prof Jolanda Roux (left), Mike Wingfield (right) and her external examiner, Dr Liliane Petrini (second from right), after her thesis defense. Castro BL, Carreño AJ, Galeano NF, Roux J, Wingfield MJ, Gaitán AL. Castro Caicedo BL, Cortina Guerrero HA, Roux J, Wingfield MJ.


6 May 2014

Advanced Microscopy Course Held on 6 May 2014 for FABI Students

Earlier this year the need was identified for regular microscopy courses to assist and guide resident FABI students.


24 Apr 2014

FABI also welcomes the new Honours students in Microbiology

Welcome to the 2014 Honours students of the Microbiology Department who will be doing their projects with FABI supervisors. Back (from left to right): Benedicta Swalarsk-Parry, Ashleigh Geldenhuys, Stefan Priem Front (from left to right): Miranda Erasmus, Inge Pietersen, Boitumelo Ntlatleng, Nompumelelo Msiza Absent: Gibson Gondo and Erika Bruck


24 Apr 2014

“The Winter Heater” FABI Blanket Drive 2014

FABIans, please join us for the annual FABI blanket drive! Blankets and warm clothes can be brought to the foyer in FABI. For more information, you can contact Matt Laubscher, who is the FABI Social Club representative in charge of this year's campaign (Marius. Photo: The 'before photo' of a rather empty looking Winter Heater corner in the FABI foyer.  


23 Apr 2014

FABI welcomes Genetics honours students of 2014

We would like to welcome the new Honours students from the Department of Genetics who will be doing their projects with FABI supervisors. Photo: Back (L-R): Conrad Trollip, Yves du Toit.


23 Apr 2014

Post Doctoral Fellowship opportunity in FABI for 2014-2016

A two year Post Doctoral Fellowship is available at the University of Pretoria related to a dynamic research group (Bacterial Genomics and Host Pathogen Interactions) working on potato plant pests and pathogens.


21 Apr 2014

A successful Science Communication Workshop

On the 14th and 15th of April, 18 FABIans had the opportunity to participate in a Science Communication Workshop by Sally Upfold from the ICFR (Institute of Commercial Forestry Research). Written by Ariska van der Nest and Arista Fourie. Photo: Kavani Sanasi making her impromptu speech, one of the exercises during the workshop.


17 Apr 2014

Registration now open for Advanced Phylogenetics Workshop

Please note that the next Advanced Phylogenetics Workshop is scheduled for 26 - 30 May 2014.


11 Apr 2014

Seven PhD's, six MSc's and many more degrees awarded to FABIans at the Autumn Graduation Ceremony

FABI's presence was felt and seen at the Autumn Graduation Ceremony of the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Science that took place on Wednesday 9 April. PhD Rodrigo Ahumada - Emerging new diseases of plantation-grown Pinus spp. Nicky Creux - In silica and functional characterization of the cellulose synthase 1 gene promoter of Eucalyptus trees Dawit Degefu - Ecology and genetic diversity of Coryphodema tristis on Eucalyptus nitens in South Africa Karen Eatwell - Remediation of instability in Best Linear Unbiased Prediction (BLUP) in tree breeding populations James Harrison - Phylogeny of the Pegyline and taxonomy of selected southern African Leucopholina (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae: Melolonthinae}, with an emphasis on genera of agricultural concern Fahimeh Jami - Taxonomy and ecology of Botryosphaeriaceae associated with Acacia karroo in South Africa Eshchar Mizrachi - Functional genomics and systems genetics of cellulose biosynthesis in Eucalyptus MSc Jonathan Botha - Qualitative reporter gene and targeted yeast one-hybrid analysis of the Eucalyptus grandis SND2 promoter region Jane Bredenkamp - Characterization of tolerance to bacterial wilt in the model plant Arabidopsis *Caryn Oates - Transcriptional responses of Eucalyptus clones to the gall wasp, Leptocybe invasa *Darryl Herron - Characterization of Fusarium species from Pinus and Eucalyptus nurseries in Colombia and South Africa *Ronel Roberts - 'Candidatus Liberibacters' found in four indigenous Rutaceous species from South Africa Nicole Rudolph - Efficacy of selected rhizobacterial isolates for biocontrol of Rhizoctonia solani and growth promotion of maize in South Africa BSc Honours (Honours students of last year who did project with FABI supervisors): Juanita Avontuur *Colan Balkwill (prize for the top student in Genetics Honours) Angelique du Preez Afrah Khairalla  *Marius Laubscher  Vusi Letsoalo *Thandekile Mamni Kavani Sanasi Jennifer Wayland BSc (Including FABI mentorship students of 2013 and FABI honours students of this year): *Andrew Behrens (prize for top student in Genetics in third year) Yves du Toit Miranda Erasmus Asleigh Geldenhuys Kayla Noeth Boitumelo Ntlatleng Inge Pietersen Lizel Potgieter Elelwani Ramulifho Benedicta Swalarsk-Parry Karin van der Westhuizen *Martin Wierzbicki (* degrees with distinction)   More photo's on our website gallery.


10 Apr 2014

Microsatellite Workshop held in FABI2

A two-day Introductory Microsatellite Workshop took place on 8 and 9 April 2014 in the Bioinformatics computer laboratory in FABI 2. During the workshop facilitators explained what microsatellite markers are, why we need them, how to use them, and also compared the application of this marker with other technologies and emerging technologies such as RAD sequencing. For the first time this year the afternoon of the second day was dedicated to a microsatellite discussion session where the workshop participants could ask questions and discuss their results with the workshop facilitators. Attendees of the workshop were: Daniela Arriagada-Cares, Jason Bezuidenhout, Ashleigh Geldenhuys, Yves du Toit, Felix Fru, Leonora Haasbroek, Estiene Jordaan, Kishen Mahesh, Pelly Malebe, Masethabela Maphatsoe, Alain Misse, Norman Muzhinji, Simeshini Naidoo, Bonny Oloka, Kennedy Simango, and Bronwynne Strybos. Now we are looking forward to many good publications from these students based on their microsattelite data! Authored by Renate Zipfel.


9 Apr 2014

Photo by FABI postdoc selected for exhibition at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow

Dr Lucas Shuttleworth recently entered a photo in the Commonwealth Woods Photographic Competition. The photo depicts local children using makoros near Malabwe, in the Western Province of Zambia, with native forests in the backgound. This once again illustrates how valuable good photographs from field research can be.  


7 Apr 2014

USDA Fellowship pushes forward research on grey leaf spot of maize

Prof Dave Berger from the Plant Science Department, Forestry and Agriculture Biotechnology Institute (FABI) at the University of Pretoria, South Africa was awarded a 2013 U. These Fellowships were set up in honour of Norman Borlaug, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1972 for his role in breeding improved varieties of wheat that led to the Green Revolution. Prof Berger spent three months of his Sabbatical hosted by Dr Burt Bluhm in the Department of Plant Pathology at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. The Fellowship also afforded Prof Berger the opportunity to attend the World Food Prize in Des Moines, Iowa, considered to the be the “Nobel Prize in Agriculture”. A serendipitous meeting at the World Food Prize between Prof Berger and Prof Willi Meyers, Director of the CAFNR International Programs at the University of Missouri led to a new collaboration on the impact of fungal diseases on small-holder farmers in KwaZulu-Natal. Further outcomes of the Borlaug Fellowship is the planned visit of a student from Dr Bluhm’s lab to UP in May 2014 with a USDA-funded follow up visit by Dr Bluhm to Prof Berger’s lab in mid-2014. Photo: Prof Berger receiving Fellowship certificate from Karen Utrecht, Africa Program Manager, Borlaug and Scientific Exchange Programs, USDA, together with Dr Burt Bluhm, University of Arkansas.


4 Apr 2014

Two Masters students hand in their theses

Two Masters students handed in their theses for examination today. Congratulations! Photo: Arista in the process of handing in.


3 Apr 2014

FABI teamwork: almost 1500 genes annotated in 5 hours!

FABI is well known for using the power of many to get certain jobs done faster, more effectively and with more enjoyment. On 4 April, FABI students and staff joined a jamboree to curate more than 1400 genes of a tree pathogen, Ceratocystis albifundus.


1 Apr 2014

Another FABI PhD dissertation successfully defended

Yesterday, Michael Mbenoun, a PhD candidate from the TPCP/CTHB group in FABI, presented a prestige seminar on his dissertation entitled Diversity, ecology and taxonomy of tree infecting Ceratocystis species in Africa.   Photo: Michael Mbenoun (middle) just after the presentation of his Prestige Seminar, together with Prof Paal Krokene (left) and his supervisors, Profs Mike Wingfield, Jolanda Roux and Brenda Wingfield.


1 Apr 2014

St Mary’s DSG visits FABI

On Tuesday 18 March the Matric Life Sciences class from St Mary’s DSG visited FABI.


28 Mar 2014

FABI students break a tree planting record!

Today 43 students of the TPCP/CTHB research groups in FABI have broken two records. The group not only included South African students, but students from countries as far as Canada, Colombia, Chile, Spain, Czech Republic, Germany, Kenya, Cameroon, Ethiopia, India, Thailand, China and Korea. You can view photos of the students in action here.


26 Mar 2014

Undergraduate Students Exposed to Biocontrol Research at FABI

The FABI Biocontrol Centre based at the UP Experimental Farm is a modern research facility that focuses on the experimentation and rearing of biological control agents to control forestry pests.


7 Mar 2014

New Eucalyptus pest

Another insect feeding on Eucalyptus species was recently detected by Prof. Stefan Neser in Pretoria. The identity of this insect must still be confirmed, but it is expected to be in the genus Spondyliaspis (shell lerp psyllids). As with the red gum lerp pysllid (Glycaspis brimblecombeii), detected in South Africa in 2012, this pysllid is a sap-sucking insect where the nymphs are covered by a protective casing called a lerp. In the case of Spondyliaspis the lerp has the appearance of a shell, he


4 Feb 2014

Major International Forestry Award to FABI researcher

Prof Jolanda Roux (FABI and Dept of Microbiology and Plant Pathology, UP) has recently heard that she will receive the IUFRO SCIENTIFIC ACHIEVEMENT AWARD at the next IUFRO World Congress to be held in Salt Lake City, USA, later this year. This award is testimony to the international recognition of the research conducted by Jolanda and other staff members of the Tree Protection Co-operative Programme (TPCP) at FABI.


10 Jan 2014

Fungus threatens to wipe out city's Jacarandas

Attached an article that appeared in the Pretoria News newspaper on 26 October 2013 after Prof Mike Wingfield of FABI mentioned in a seminar that the City's famous Jacaranda trees are threatened by a fungus.


9 Jan 2014

Limited options to manage Myrtle rust in SA

In the attached an article about Myrtle rust in the the Farmer's Weekly that appeared in the issue of 19 July 2013.


9 Jan 2014

Breaking news: Biological control agent for Thaumastocoris peregrinus to be released in South Africa

The Tree Protection Co-operative Programme (TPCP) based at FABI has recently received permission from the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) and the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) to release the parasitic wasp Cleruchoides noackae (Mymaridae), for the biological control of the Bronze Bug, Thaumastocoris peregrinus. This is an incredibly important milestone in terms of ensuring sustainable plantation forestry in South Africa and it marks the culmination of a long


9 Jan 2014

FABI 2011 - 2013 Biennial Report

The Biennial Report of FABI for the period 2011-2013 has been released this week.


11 Aug 2013

Update on Glycaspis brimblecombei (red gum lerp psyllid)

The red gum lerp psyllid, Glycaspis brimblecombei, is a pest of Eucalyptus species that has spread from Australia into many Eucalyptus growing countries, where it can cause substantial losses. Photos: The red gum lerp psyllid, Glycaspis brimblecombei (top, photo by Harsi S.  


6 Aug 2013

One year of releasing Selitrichodes neseri: biocontrol agent for Leptocybe invasa

It has been about one year since the first releases of Selitrichodes neseri, biological control agent for Leptocybe invasa.


14 Jun 2013

New IUFRO President

Prof Mike Wingfield, Director of FABI and the TPCP, has this week been elected as the new president of IUFRO (International Union of Forest Research Organizations).   We would like to congratulate Mike with this major achievement that will greatly benefit the South African forestry industry and forestry research in South Africa.


1 Nov 2012

Insect pests of Eucalyptus - Challenges and opportunities for their management

Article appeared in Wood SA & Timber Times in November 2012.


27 Jul 2012

Biological control agent for Leptocybe invasa released

July 25 2012 was an important day for forest protection in South Africa, as it marked the first release of Selitrichodes neseri, the biological control agent for the eucalyptus gall wasp, Leptocybe invasa.


1 Dec 2010

Notorious tree-killing fungus unravelled

Article appeared in the Tukkie 16(3) in December 2010.


1 Dec 2010

A world-class Biocontrol Centre for forest pests at FABI

Article appeared in Wood SA & Timber Times in December 2010.


1 Dec 2010

Fusarium circinatum: The first eukaryotic genome sequenced and annotated in Africa

Article appeared in Wood SA & Timber Times in December 2010.


1 Dec 2010

Pests threatening pine

Article appeared in Wood SA & Timber Times in December 2010.