Assistant Plant Pathologist
Tel: 031 508 7400 (Switchboard)
Tel: 031 508 7526 (Direct)


  • To apply specialist and leadership skills in managing Pathology laboratories.
  • To develop and adapt methods to enhance sugarcane disease detection and species identification.


Molecular Biology and disease diagnostics, DNA isolation, Sanger Sequencing, Fungicide Screenings and Trials, Disease Isolation, NIR Technology, AFLP analysis, HPLC Analysis, Plant biotechnology, Mutagenesis, Plant physiology, Enzyme Kinetics and Tissue culture.

Research Interests

Molecular disease diagnostics, NIR data collection and building of disease models, detection and control of sugarcane rusts, sugarcane fungal diseases, conducting field trials and observation plots, using AFLP techniques to detect polymorphisms linked to disease tolerance.

Key Outcomes

  • Monitoring disease traps in place to detect current and new fungal diseases.
  • The expansion in the application of NIRS and HPLC for sugarcane.
  • Testing new chemical compounds against sugarcane diseases and conducting field trials towards product registration.
  • Disease isolation for use in screening trials.
  • Isolation and characterization of mutated genes that have increased tolerance to specific herbicides.

Key Publications

Koch, AC, Ramgareeb, S, Rutherford, RS, Snyman, SJ, Watt, MP (2012) An in vitro mutagenesis protocol for the production of sugarcane tolerant to the herbicide imazapyr. In Vitro Cellular & Developmental Biology-Plant 48: 417-427.

Rutherford, RS, Maphalala, KZ, Koch, AC, Snyman, SJ, Watt, MP (2017) Field and laboratory assessments of sugarcane mutants selected in vitro for resistance to imazapyr herbicide. Crop Breeding & Applied Biotechnology 17: 107-114.

Snyman, SJ, Meyer, GM, Koch, AC, Banasiak, M, Watt, MP (2011) Applications of in vitro culture systems for commercial sugarcane production and improvement. In Vitro Cellular & Developmental Biology-Plant 47: 234-249.


BSc Biological Sciences (UKZN); BSc Hons Biological Sciences (UKZN); MSc Biological Sciences (UKZN).