Ms Caitlin Botha
Biochemistry, Genetics and Microbiology
I am an MSc student in the University of Pretoria working in the Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute (FABI). I am also a member of the Tree Protection Co-operative Programme (TPCP), a world leader in dealing with pests and pathogens of forestry plantations.
My research currently is focused on a system that threatens pine plantations: the Sirex-Amylostereum mutualism. The Sirex woodwasps along with their fungal symbiont, Amylostereum, are together responsible for the devastating loss of pine forests. The two species exist in a mutual symbiosis where the wasp helps spread the fungus asexually and the fungus in turn creates an environment suitable for the wasp larvae to grow and develop within the pine tree. Specifically I look at how the mutualism has affected the mating system of Amylostereum areolatum.