Welcome to Stellenbosch University

Department of Plant Pathology

​​What is Plant Pathology?

Plant Pathology is defined as the study of the organisms and environmental conditions that cause diseases in plants, the mechanisms by which this occurs, the interactions between these causal agents and the plant (effects on plant growth, yield and quality), and the methods of managing or controlling plant disease. It also draws on knowledge from other scientific fields such as mycology, microbiology, virology, biochemistry, bio-informatics, etc.


The Department of Plant Pathology​

It is the vision of the Department to be nationally and internationally recognised as an academic department which offers top-quality training and research by creating an environment that supports and encourages the development and productivity of students and staff. It does this by establishing and maintaining alliances with industry through strategically focused research programmes and service delivery, and by fostering national and international collaborations for innovative and cutting-edge research aimed at sustainable food production.

The Department of Plant Pathology has a holistic and interdisciplinary approach to research and training, and makes use of the latest technologies in order to reduce the impact of pathogens on plants, and to increase resistance in plants. Conventional and molecular techniques are used in a sustainable and economical way to control plant pathogens that are a threat to local crops and export markets.

Programme information

Undergraduate programmes

BScAgric (Plant and Soil Sciences)

The four-year program in plant and soil sciences offers training in the production of agricultural and vegetable crops, fodder crops, aromatic plants, deciduous fruit, citrus, fynbos and vineyards. For each crop, knowledge of the following is integrated into a meaningful whole: agricultural economics, biochemistry, biometrics, crop production, entomology, genetics, nematology, plant pathology and soil science.

The program is subdivided into 3 fields of study:

  • Crop Productions: In this field of study, you will receive training in the production and quality management including field crops, deciduous fruit, citrus, fynbos, vineyard and greenhouse crops.
  • Crop Protection and Breeding: This field of study trains you as an expert in crop protection (entomological and nematological pests, plant diseases and their control) and genetic crop improvement (cultivation and manipulation).
  • Soil and Water Management:  This field of study equips you with the expertise to understand the nature, importance and management of soil and water as they relate to crop production. 

Opting for study in one of these three fields prepares you for a variety of careers in the agriculture industry or agriculture-related industries, including careers such as adviser, consultant, entrepreneur, manager, technician and researcher. 


Postgraduate courses​

HonsBSc (Plant Pathology)

MSc (Plant Pathology)

PhD (Plant Pathology)


The Department of Plant Pathology is at the forefront of research to decrease the impact of pathogens (contagious diseases) on crops and to increase crop resistance, thereby adding momentum to food production.  This is becoming of ever-increasing importance as about 40% of all food that is produced is lost as a result of plant disease, pests and weeds, while the world population will reach an estimated 9 billion by the year 2050.

The Department is considered a world leader because of its programmes on pathogens in vineyard and soft fruit crops. Graduates play a leading role in their field, not only in South Africa but also internationally. Research is focused especially on the protection of fruit, citrus, vegetable and cereal crops by means of integrated pathogen management and plant improvement.

Research programmes on diseases of grapes and deciduous fruit are solidly established in the Department, while research projects on diseases of citrus, vegetables and cereal crops have been initiated more recently.​

A detailed list of research publications are available at

Research focus areas

  • Preharvest Disease Management
  • Postharvest Pathology
  • Molecular Plant Pathology

Research expertise areas

  • Fusarium Research
  • Fruit and Postharvest Pathology
  • Grapevine Pathology
  • Citrus Pathology
  • Oomycete and Soilborne Pathogens

​​​Contact Details​​

Department of Plant Pathology

Faculty of AgriSciences

Private Bag X1, 7602 Matieland, South Africa

Tel: +27 21 808 4799             
E-Mail:​    Web:


Academic Staff​


Personnel MemberTelephone numberE-mail addressExpertise
Prof Paul Fourie021 808 Pathology
[Extra-ordinary Associate Professor]
​Dr Francois Halleen​021 808​Grapevine Pathology
[Extraordinary Associate Professor]
Dr Cheryl Lennox021 808 and Postharvest Pathology
​Prof Mark Mazzola​021 808 4799​​Oomycete and Soilborne Pathogens
[Extra-ordinary Professor]
Prof Adéle McLeod021 808 and Soilborne Pathogens
Dr Lizel Mostert021 808 Pathology
Ms Lindy Rose021 808 Research
​Dr Jan van Niekerk
​021 808 3721
​​Citrus Pathology
[Research fellow]
Prof Altus Viljoen021 808 Research [Chairperson]


​Technical & Support Staff


Personnel MemberTelephone numberE-mail addressExpertise
Elveresha Davids​021 808 9177
Brenda de Wee021 808 Clinic
Sonja Coertze021 808 / Disease Clinic
Desiree Fortuin021 808 
Tamaryn Jensen021 808 Clinic 
​Lonette Kleinhans
​021 808 4223
​​Disease Clinic
​Michelle Leibrandt
​021 808 9177
​Dr Julia Meitz-Hopkins
​021 808 9177
Anria Pretorius021 808 
Lizeth Swart021 808
André Williams021 808