Department of Plant Pathology
Research and training at the Department of Plant Pathology deal with some of the most important plant diseases of agricultural crops in South Africa and internationally. These include diseases of grapes, deciduous fruit, citrus, vegetables and grain crops. Our students are trained to investigate biotic and abiotic factors that contribute to the development of these diseases, and to manage them appropriately.
Our Department studies diseases that occur in farmer fields before crops are harvested, as well as those that cause damage to crops after their harvest, such as decay of export fruits and contamination of grain crops with mycotoxins. We focus our research on the accurate identification and detection of fungal pathogens, and on the use of environmentally sound and sustainable ways to control them. These methods include targeted fungicide application, management of microbial and plant habitats, and the exploitation of plant defence responses for improved disease resistance.
Use is made of the latest technologies available in molecular biology, genetics and genomics, microscopic and computer analysis, and epidemiological modelling. By reducing plant diseases, the Department aims to increase the production of healthy and safe food to feed the South African population and to provide agricultural products for trade at local and international markets.