News Forum

SASPP members are welcome to submit news articles, & information regarding upcoming events, to be published on our website.

Information should be relevant, and is subject to approval by the SASPP secretary, Dr. Cornel Bender.

Prof. Mike Wingfield amongst the honorary doctorate recipients at UFS Graduation

The SASPP would like to congratulate Prof. Mike Wingfield on this outstanding achievement!

Prof Mike Wingfield began his academic career at the University of the Free State in 1988. Shortly after, he received the National Research Foundation (NRF) President’s award and has held an NRF A-rating for more than 26 years. He was the founding director of the Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute (FABI) established at the University of Pretoria in 1998, stepping down from this position at the end of 2017 after 20 years. Currently, he serves as adviser to the Executive of the University of Pretoria and conducts research both in South Africa and globally.

First Ukrainian Refugee Bursary Recipients Arrives in Poland!

National and regional conflicts around the world have unfortunately displaced many plant pathologists in the past and present, creating financial hardships. The International Society for Plant Pathology established a “Resilience Bursary for Plant Pathologists”, this fund will be used to support emergency/refugee situations, specifically for plant pathologists. 

Through this fund the Polish Phytopathological Society (PPS)  have chosen three candidates, with a fourth one on her way to Poznan. The women scientists all arrived with children, some kindergartens were able to offer a Ukrainian teacher, so the children would not have to struggle with a foreign language.

Prof Brenda Wingfield announced as finalist for NSTF-South32 Lifetime Award

The National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF), in partnership with South32, recently announced the finalists in various categories for the 2021/2022 NSTF-South32 Awards.

The NSTF-South32 Awards recognise outstanding contributions to science, engineering and technology (SET), and innovation in South Africa. They encourage and reward excellence in, among others, scientific research, data for research, the green economy, and innovations. The NSTF-South32 Awards are known as the ‘Science Oscars’ of South Africa. They are the largest, most comprehensive, and most sought-after national awards of their kind in the country. They were also the first science awards in the country.

Food security dominant driver of plant pathology research in future

Plant health is important for the survival of our planet and all its living creatures. Now, imagine an instrument that contains a DNA chip from virtually every known plant pathogen, where one can simply snip off a piece of the infected plant material, slip it into the ‘plant disease tricorder’, and within seconds you have not only a diagnosis of the disease, but all the information about its control too.

UFS wheat rust specialist contributes to paper in Nature Genetics

Prof Willem Boshoff, Associate Professor in the Department of Plant Sciences at the University of the Free State (UFS), is one of the authors of an article: ‘Long-read genome sequencing of bread wheat facilitates disease resistance gene cloning’, which was recently (14 March 2022) published in the prestigious science publication, Nature Genetics.

Nuwe swam na Cuddles genoem

’n Tien jaar oue Pretoriase worshond genaamd Cuddles het die eer te beurt geval dat ’n nuut beskryfde Penicillium-spesie na haar genoem is.

Met dié dat die nuwe swamspesie in Cuddles se kos gevind is, het prof. Cobus M. Visagie, voormalige lid van Rong se span en amptelike beskrywer van die nuwe spesie, besluit om dit na Cuddles te noem.

Professor Brenda Wingfield receives prestigous Chancellor Award: Research

The SASPP and its members would like to congratulate Professor Brenda Wingfield for winning the prestigous Chancellor Award: Research, which is awarded to a researcher in recognition of exceptional achievement in the field of research aimed at the advancement of science, and the associated promotion of the interests of the University of Pretoria.

Prof. Brenda Wingfield was given the award for her pioneering work in fungal genomics in South Africa.  

Kovsie student receives prestigious award for sunflower rust research

Wilku Meyer, a student member of the SASPP and APS, is the co-recipient of the Junior Captain Scott Memorial Medal for Plant Sciences, awarded every second year by the South African Academy for Science and Arts for the best MSc dissertation awarded at a South African university.

Mike Wingfield wins NSTF award

The SASPP would like to congratulate Prof Mike Wingfield on winning the National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF) Annual Theme Award: Plant Health. This Special Annual Theme Award, recognising the 2020 United Nations International Year of Plant Health (IYPH-2020), is one of 13 awards conferred at the NSTF-South32 Awards ceremony on 30 July 2020.

Announcement of a MOU between SASPP and APS

The Council of the Southern African Society for Plant Pathology (SASPP) is excited to announce the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the American Phytopathological Society (APS) effective from July 2020 to June 2024. The MOU signed between Prof. Wijnand Swart and Dr. Lindsey du Toit, current Presidents of the SASPP and APS respectively, will facilitate mutually beneficial interaction through scientific exchange via joint membership and professional collaboration.

SA Academy for Arts and Science honours Prof Bernard Slippers with the Havenga Prize for Natural Sciences

On behalf of the plant pathology community in South Africa, the SASPP council would like to congratulate Prof. Bernard Slippers, director of the Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute (FABI) at the University of Pretoria, who was awarded the 2020 prestigious Havenga Prize for Natural Sciences by the South African Academy for Arts and Science.

Plant Pathologists announced as finalists in prestigious awards

The National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF)  has announced that a virtual Awards Gala Event will be live-streamed on Thursday, 30 July 2020 at 19:00-20:30 to honour the finalists and announce the winners in their 22nd annual award ceremony. In recognition of the 2020 International Year of Plant Health, as declared by the United Nations, the theme for the 2019/2020 NSTF-South32 Awards is Plant Health.

Donation to SASPP by Prof John Mildenhall

Prof John Mildenhall’s association with the SASPP goes back 45 years to 1967 when he presented a paper at the January meeting held at the University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg.

In 2009, his deep passion for plant pathology prompted him to donate an amount of R 50 000 to the Society to award commendable PhD students. At the 51st SASPP conference in 2019, held at Club Mykonos, Prof Mildenhall announced that he is donating an additional R150 000 towards increasing the value of the original award.  This very generous gesture is the largest ever donation the SASPP has received from a private individual.   

Renowned Australian cereal rust scientist visits UFS

Professor Robert Park, Head of Cereal Rust Research at the Plant Breeding Institute (PBI) at the University of Sydney, visited Dr Willem Boshoff and Prof Botma Visser from the Department of Plant Sciences at the University of the Free State during October. Rust researchers at the two Institutions have been involved in many collaborative projects in the past and through this visit, these ties were strengthened. During his visit, he gave a talk entitled “Approaching 100 years of cereal rust research at the University of Sydney; lessons learnt and the way ahead”.



The Soilborne Plant Diseases Interest Group of South Africa hosted the 29th Interdisciplinary Symposium on Soilborne Plant Diseases on 18 and 19 September 2019 at the Vredenburg Research Centre of the ARC-PHP in Stellenbosch.  The topic for this year’s symposium was Propagation material and Soilborne Plant Diseases.

FABI shines at SASPP meeting

The 2019 meeting of the Southern African Society for Plant Pathology (SASPP) took place on the West Coast, hosted by Stellenbosch University. The meeting boasted nine keynote speakers from institutions in five different countries.

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