Plant Pathologist
Tel: 031 508 7400 (Switchboard)
Tel: 031 508 7526 (Direct)
Email: Tania.VanAntwerpen@sugar.org.za


  • To manage all aspects of the sugar industry’s quarantine matters, including responsibility for the quarantine glasshouse and related operations such as tissue culture in quarantine, disease diagnostics and exports and imports of cane.
  • To conduct independent research and collaborate with external partners in the field of molecular disease diagnostics, pathogen strains, phytosanitation, general pathology and microbial diversity in plants and soils.
  • To manage several research projects, provide training and act as a mentor to work experience students and junior staff members.


  • Molecular characterisation and detection of sugarcane pathogens and endophytes by PCR, RT-PCR and sequencing.
  • Management of quarantine glasshouse, advice on import and export of sugarcane varieties.
  • Plant micropropagation by meristem tissue culture for the elimination of sugarcane pathogens.

Research Interests

  • Molecular diagnosis and identification of sugarcane pathogens in the quarantine glasshouse and in the field.
  • Micropropagation of sugarcane by means of meristem tissue culture techniques.
  • The performance of imported cold tolerant varieties in frost areas.
  • The use of endophytic microorganisms in the control of sugarcane fungal diseases.
  • Soil microbial organisms and their role in soil health.

Key Outcomes

  • The development of mosaic and smut management strategies for the Mpumalanga region, Identification of fungicides for smut and brown rust management.
  • Certain Fusarium species isolated from sugarcane are attractive, promote the development and improve the fecundity of Eldana saccharina while other species are avoided by larvae and have a detrimental effect on larval development in vitro.

Key Publications

van Antwerpen, T, McFarlane, SA, Buchanan, GF, Shepherd, DN, Martin, DP; Rybicki, ER and Varsani, A. (2007). First report of maize streak virus infection of sugarcane in South Africa. Plant disease (in print).

van Antwerpen, T, van Antwerpen, R, Meyer JH, Naidoo, P, Berry, S, Spaull, VW, Govender, K, Cadet, P, Rutherford, RS and Laing, M. (2007). Factors associated with a healthy soil in sugarcane production in KwaZulu Natal. International Society of Sugarcane Technologists, XXVI Congress, 29 July – 2 August 2007.

McFarlane, SA and van Antwerpen, T. (2007). MSV: A new sugarcane disease in the industry. The Link, Volume 16, No 3, September 2007.

van Antwerpen, T (2006). Sugarcane Quarantine in South Africa. Information booklet published by SASRI in March 2006.

van Antwerpen, T (2006). Spotlight on the Soil Food Web. Link, Volume 15, No. 2, May 2006.


  • BSc HED (Potchefstroom)
  • BSc Hons (Natal)
  • MSc (Stellenbosch)