30 May, 2016
TPCP-CTHB Annual Meeting kicks off with symposium on indigenous tree health
Presentations on the first day of the annual meeting of the DST-NRF Centre of Excellence in Tree Health Biotechnology (CTHB) at the University of Pretoria reflected the diversity of research conducted by students and staff of the CTHB. Focusing on the latest research on the health of trees native to South Africa, the meeting is a precursor to its counterpart, the annual symposium of the Tree Protection Co-operative Programme (TPCP). The CTHB symposium showcased the different fields of research covered at institutions under the CTHB at the Agricultural Research Centre (ARC), Rhodes University and the Universities of the Free State, Pretoria, Stellenbosch and Venda, with students' presentations dominating the day's programme.
Deputy Director of the CTHB, Prof. Emma Steenkamp, commended the quality and diversity of the seminars for "setting the stage" for the annual meeting of the TPCP. Elelwani Ramabulana, a recent MSc graduate from the University of Venda, presented her project: "Diversity of Botryosphaeriaceae species associated withSclerocarya birrea trees in Tshikundamalema". The study added to the limited work done on the pathogens and diseases affecting S. birrea. Postdoctoral fellow at FABI, Dr Alistair McTaggart, explored the shortcomings of a name-based approach to biosecurity in his presentation: "Fungal genomics challenges the dogma of name-based biosecurity". He argued that though taxonomy could not be discounted when dealing with pathogens, it however could not keep up with the pace at which species were being discovered. He advocated the use of genes and genomics to determine the level of risk posed by certain pathogens.