Postdoctoral Fellow Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute, University of Pretoria

Worldwide forests are increasingly under threat from invasive pests and pathogens. While impacts of tree health disasters are experienced locally, the drivers of their emergence are global; therefore, a strategy for dealing with pests and pathogens is urgently required at a global level. The International Plant Sentinel Network (IPSN) (www.plantsentinel.org) has been established with the objective of functioning as an early warning system to identify new and emerging pest and pathogen risks, and my current research will use the IPSN as background to improve surveillance and identification of new and emerging pest and pathogen risks by using botanic gardens and arboreta as sentinel sites for tree health monitoring. The focus area of detection is central to the project, but in addition, using sentinel plants within botanic gardens also provides relevant information on a particular pest, including potential host range, which can then be used to determine the risk a pest poses and potentially aid in the development of appropriate eradication and/or containment programmes.

My previous research included the detection and management of Phytophthora cinnamomi in natural ecosystems of south west Western Australia, and understanding the underlying causes of and determining practical management solutions to canker disease of Corymbia calophylla (marri), a keystone tree species of SWWA, caused by the endemic fungal pathogen Quambalaria coyrecup.

Experience

  • –present
    Postdoctoral Fellow Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute, University of Pretoria