Senior Researcher (Plant Pathology) at the ARC Infruitec-Nietvoorbij



"We need to know the fungi involved in causing honeybush diseases and dieback."

The fight against fungal diseases and honeybush

I am interested in diseases that affect the honeybush plant. I recently conducted a disease survey, which entails looking at samples from different growing areas to identify honeybush fungal diseases. By using DNA sequencing, I am hoping to establish the exact types of fungi involved and find differences in their occurrence between different growing regions. DNA sequencing involves isolating fungi from infected areas on the plant stem, growing these fungi in a suitable medium in the laboratory and then using its DNA strands to find out exactly what it is.

Why this matters

There is a serious lack of knowledge about fungal diseases on honeybush plants. In recent years, there have been many complaints by honeybush farmers of their plants showing disease symptoms. These fungal diseases are causing stem cankers that lead to a reduced lifespan or even plant deaths in honeybush plantations across South Africa. Establishing which fungi are involved will allow us to better control the problem.

About the researcher

Koopman is a plant pathologist with about 14 years' experience in agricultural research and joined the ARC in 2004. He obtained both his master's degree (plant pathology and viticulture) and PhD degree (plant pathology) from SU. His key research interest is working on apple diseases, with a specific focus on apple scab. With his research, he hopes to assist with resistance-breeding against apple scab disease. In 2018, he started working on fungal diseases that cause dieback in honeybush.

Dr Trevor Koopman, a senior researcher at the ARC Infruitec-Nietvoorbij, is doing research on
fungi that causes honeybush plant diseases and dieback.