Programme leader: Dr Lizel Mostert
The field of phytomycology entails the study of fungal systematics and taxonomy
of fungal plant pathogens. This knowledge enables the correct identification of
causal agents of diseases. The etiology of plant diseases is very important as
the first step in understanding the disease aiding in working towards a control
strategy. Plant diseases are often complex, being caused by a variety of fungal
taxa. The identification and relevance of these taxa are very important. A focus
area of research includes the etiology and epidemiology of trunk diseases of
grapevine, pome and stone fruit trees.
Phytomycology also entails the
development and use of up-to-date molecular identification tools for fungal
pathogens that can be used to ensure clean planting material and for early
disease warning. The compiling of reliable information regarding the status of
fungal pathogens within South Africa is very important. This, together with
expertise in phytomycology, is of the utmost importance in order to ensure
market access within the agriculture sector, as well as food security in South
Africa. Phytosanitary support is provided on an ongoing basis to the deciduous
fruit industry (DFPT).
The biological control of plant diseases is important
in providing an alternative to chemical control. It allows producers to limit
fungicide residues which are becoming an important market requirement. The
biocontrol programme focuses on the use of Trichoderma species in the
control of grapevine trunk diseases. Various aspects are being researched to
understand the mechanisms involved and to optimise the application. These
include the formulation, time of application, secondary metabolites produced by
the Trichoderma strains, and the host-Trichoderma
interactions. Two isolates occurring naturally in grapevines have been tested in
vitro and in vivo and is in the process of developing a product that can be used
as a pruning wound protectant.
Elzane Froneman - Assessment of olive cultivar resistance as well as fungicide sensitivity of Colletotrichum acutatum.
Wynand van Jaarsveld - Investigation into the efficacy of Trichoderma spp. colonization of grapevine nursery plants.
Rhona van der Merwe - Survey of stem canker pathogens on nursery and young stone fruit trees.
Matthew Webber - Assessment of hot water treatment for control of grapevine trunk diseases in nurseries.
Shannon Strydom - Pruning wound protection of grapevine rootstock mother vines.
Greg Gatsi - Evaluation of pruning wound protectants on nursery apple trees.
Palesa Lesuthu - Epidemiology and management of Diaporthe species on grapevines.
Ihan du Plessis - Title to be announced
Meagan Vermeulen - Characterisation, epidemiology and management of olive trunk disease pathogens in the Western Cape.