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Research Team Manager:
Dr. Isabel Rong

E-mail: RongI@arc.agric.za
Office number: +27 (0)12 808 8138

Campus: Roodeplaat, Pretoria


​RESEARCH FOCUS AREAS


​The Division, located in Roodeplaat East of Pretoria, provides specialist research and routine diagnostic and advisory services on plant diseases such as soil-borne diseases; seed-borne diseases and foliar diseases using traditional and molecular techniques on fungal, bacterial and viral pathogens with emphasis on those affecting crops to industries, nurseries, commercial and small-scale farmers. The Division supports Government Departments to meet statutory obligations; supplies cultures to various clients including farmers, researchers, manufacturers, etc.; conducts national surveys of disease outbreaks; biological control of plant diseases caused by bacteria; provides plant pathogen etiology and management strategies; soil microbiological population studies as indicators of soil health; quality control testing; small holder and commercial farmer training on mushroom farming; and maintains the South African Rhizobium Culture Collection (SARCC), plant pathogenic and beneficial bacteria as well as Plant Virus sero reagent and antisera collections. The SARCC is the state of art and regarded as a Genetic Resource and as a National asset to assist sustainable agriculture and crop production in South Africa.

The main research focus areas of the Plant Microbiology & Pathology are conducted within the following Units: Virology; Soil Health; Beneficial Nitrogen Fixation; Soil borne Plant Diseases; Fungal and Bacteriology. These specific focus areas are supported by specialized skills; resources available and experts on plant microbiology, pathology and soil health who investigate plant diseases which attack many crops such as ornamental plants, deciduous fruit trees, grapevines, vegetables, citrus, soil types, etc.

Our laboratories are registered with the South African Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) to provide plant pathogen diagnostic and advisory services. This role include the responsibility to support DAFF with phytosanitary matters in terms of safety and trade issues.

As a result of our research indicated above, the Division contributes to the prevention and protection of contamination of the food basket; impact on food safety and security; public health; mitigate agricultural risks; and protection of natural resources. Our research also contributes to enhanced crop yields for example influence of conservation agriculture on soil health and soilborne diseases; management strategies for pest and disease control; development of inoculants for biological nitrogen fixation; and protection against crown-gall of vine and fruit trees.

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