Dr Dawit Degefu
Biochemistry, Genetics and Microbiology
Currently, I am doing my PhD at University of Pretoria, Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute, Faculty of Natural Sciences, South Africa.
A continuously growing number of emerging insect pests and microbial pathogens threaten the health and the productivity of plantations trees worldwide. One source of emerging insect pests in non-native plantation forestry is native insects that eventually adapt to feed on non-native hosts. Two recent examples of this are the South African cossid moth, Coryphodema tristis, and the Chilean carpenterworm, Chilecomadia valdiviana that started to infest non-native Eucalyptus spp. in plantations in these countries. Hence, understanding the origin of emerging pests in commercial forestry plantations is important to predict future expansion and to understand factors that might influence this process. My PhD project focuses on the ecology, genetic diversity, insect associated microbial interaction and mechanism of insect plant tree resistance of Coryphodema tristis (Lepidoptera: Cossidae) in South Africa.