SASRN to address key issues in Sclerotinia research
LISA ROTHMANN, University of the Free State
Sclerotinia sclerotiorum is a predominant plant pathogen. South African host crops of importance include canola, soybean and sunflower, which contribute significantly to the economy. Globally, S. sclerotiorum is an increasing threat to yields and quality due to head and stem rots of canola, soybean and sunflowers.
My doctoral supervisor, Professor Neal McLaren, and I were invited to present a poster titled, Epidemiology of Sclerotinia stem rot of soybean: A South African perspective at the National Sclerotinia Initiative (NSI) in Minnesota (USA) in January last year.
Upon returning, we and a fellow student, Marlese Bester, contacted fellow Sclerotinia researchers across South Africa. The initial intention was to create a platform for young researchers to assist one another and share their experiences with Sclerotinia research in South Africa. However, there was significant interest from beyond academic institutions and therefore the South African Sclerotinia Research Network (SASRN) was born.
This platform is a community of practice for Sclerotinia researchers in South Africa. The three key issues on which the SASRN would like to focus are:
- Generating a virtual centre of excellence and expertise.
- The role South Africa can play in the Sclerotinia research arena internationally.
- Developing practical management strategies for diseases caused by Sclerotinia for our local producers.
The latter focus point is reliant on driving parallel, comprehensive and cohesive research to benefit multiple investigators and the
public to which the SASRN could contribute significantly.
The SASRN had its inaugural meeting in September at the Agri-Hub Office Park in Pretoria. Research groups who attended, include Bayer CropScience, Philagro SA, the University of Pretoria, the University of the Free State, the Western Cape Department of Agriculture, Cengen and Grain SA. During this meeting we shared current knowledge and research on canola, soybeans and sunflowers.
If you are a producer and have a Sclerotinia outbreak contact us on our hotline at 079 869 6357 (managed by the University of Pretoria members), support our Facebook page, South African Sclerotinia Research Network, or tag us @sclerotinianetworkza if you are interested in more information.
Publication: January 2018