Research Focus

SASRI Research

The SASRI research, development & innovation programme is designed to impact positively on seven industry priorities:

Eldana Control

Reduced negative impacts of Eldana on yields through the development and facilitation of subsequent adoption of Eldana IPM guidelines and new technologies.

Higher Recoverable Value Yields

Increased RV yields through the production of superior varieties with improved pest and disease resistance by conventional, introgression and molecular breeding and genetic engineering for higher RV yields (via improved sucrose content and biomass per hectare) and facilitate the correct placement, disposition and management of these varieties.

Mechanisation Information

An on-line database of nationally- and internationally-available mechanisation options to assist grower decision-making.

Climate Change Adaption

Reliable predictions of climate change impacts on crop water-use and yield for existing and potential agro-climatic situations (soil-crop-management-climate), appropriate resources to enable climate change adaptation and mitigation and best management practices to maximise yield and profitability under expected mid-century climate.

Bioenergy Applications

Determined suitability of SA varieties for profitable bioenergy applications, accounting for associated biomass harvesting and transport options and costs.

Crop & Soil Health

Technologies to optimise soil health and crop nutrition to maximise efficiencies for production and long-term industry sustainability.

Indigenous Longhorn Beetle

(a) Technologies that enable the suppression of the population size of localised longhorn beetle outbreaks; and (b) knowledge base that enables the development of technologies for long-term sustainable integrated management of the pest on an area-wide basis. Two parallel lines of investigation are conducted: development of monitoring technologies and containment tactics based on available information (technology development); and expansion of knowledge of the biology and ecology of the longhorn beetle that will form the foundation of a sustainable integrated management programme (research).

Dr Derek Watt

Research Manager

Details

Research Manager

Tel: 031 508 7400 (Switchboard)
Tel: 031 508 7461 (Direct)
Email: derek.watt@sugar.org.za

Role
  • As part of the SASA leadership collective, to contribute to the fulfilment of the organisation’s mission and strategic objectives.
  • In conjunction with the SASRI Director and leadership team, to ensure that the management of the institute is aligned with stakeholder-ratified strategic objectives and good governance principles.
  • To determine the strategic direction of the SASRI research programme through internal and external consultation to promote the long-term sustainability of the sugar industry.
  • To provide pro-active leadership and effective management and administration of the SASRI research programme to ensure provision of relevant, practical and high quality agricultural solutions to stakeholders.
  • In conjunction with the research management team, to develop a programme of research and technology development that is precisely aligned with those of the SASRI operations, knowledge management and extension environments and which results in the development of cost-effective solutions that are seamlessly transferred and readily adopted by stakeholders.
  • To co-ordinate, guide and inspire the rigour and relevance of research activities and performance of SASRI Research Staff.
  • To develop and participate in initiatives that promote the well-being and professional development of SASRI Research Staff.
Expertise
  • Molecular plant physiology.
  • Research management.
Specific Interests

Regulation of sucrose accumulation, particularly the role played by sugar sensing and signalling mechanisms in mediating the relationship between source and sink activities.

Key Outcomes
  • In conjunction with research collaborators and post-graduate students:
    Demonstrated that the sink strength (stalk sucrose content) is an important determinant of source activity (leaf photosynthesis), a relationship that may underpin certain agronomic phenomena (e.g. reduced spring growth).
  • Identified commonalities in the signalling and transduction pathways for aluminium-induced and oxidative stress in sugarcane roots.
  • Through gene expression profiling, found evidence that hypoxia may play a role in the regulation of stalk carbohydrate metabolism.
  • NRF-rating.
Key Production

Van Heerden PDR, Donaldson R, Watt DA & A Singels (2010). Biomass accumulation in sugarcane – unraveling the factors underpinning reduced growth phenomena. Journal of Experimental Botany 61: 2877-2887.

McCormick AJ, Watt DA & MD Cramer (2009). Supply and demand: sink regulation of sugar accumulation in sugarcane. Journal of Experimental Botany 60: 357-364.

McCormick AJ, Cramer MD & DA Watt (2008). Culm sucrose accumulation promotes physiological decline of mature leaves in ripening sugarcane. Field Crops Research 108: 250-258.

McCormick AJ, Cramer MD & DA Watt (2008). Differential expression of genes in the leaves of sugarcane in response to sugar accumulation. Tropical Plant Biology 1: 142-148.

McCormick AJ, Cramer MD & DA Watt (2008). Regulation of photosynthesis by sugars in sugarcane leaves. Journal of Plant Physiology 165: 1817-1829.

McCormick AJ, Cramer MD & DA Watt (2008). Changes in photosynthetic rates and gene expression of leaves during a source-sink perturbation in sugarcane. Annals of Botany 101: 89-102.

Qualifications
  • Honorary Senior Lecturer (University of KwaZulu-Natal, Howard College).
  • MSc (Witwatersrand), HDipEd (PG) PhD (Natal).

Research Programmes

The SASRI research, development and innovation is administered within four multidisciplinary programmes, namely Variety Improvement, Crop Protection, Crop Performance & Management, and Systems Design & Optimisation.

Variety Improvement

Variety Improvement

This programme conducts research and implements strategies for the continual release of high yielding, adaptable, pest and disease resistant varieties that add value and enhance industry productivity…

Systems Design and Optimisation

Systems Design & Optimisation

This programme investigates, develops and transfers innovative systems that optimise industry agricultural performance…

Crop Protection

Crop Protection

This programme develops integrated management strategies that minimise the effects of pests, diseases and weeds on crop production in a sustainable manner…

Crop Performance and Management

Crop Performance & Management

This programme develops models and better management practices to sustain and enhance sugarcane production within the…

Research Staff

Dr Derek Watt

Research Manager

Details

Research Manager

Tel: 031 508 7400 (Switchboard)
Tel: 031 508 7461 (Direct)
Email: derek.watt@sugar.org.za

Role
  • As part of the SASA leadership collective, to contribute to the fulfilment of the organisation’s mission and strategic objectives.
  • In conjunction with the SASRI Director and leadership team, to ensure that the management of the institute is aligned with stakeholder-ratified strategic objectives and good governance principles.
  • To determine the strategic direction of the SASRI research programme through internal and external consultation to promote the long-term sustainability of the sugar industry.
  • To provide pro-active leadership and effective management and administration of the SASRI research programme to ensure provision of relevant, practical and high quality agricultural solutions to stakeholders.
  • In conjunction with the research management team, to develop a programme of research and technology development that is precisely aligned with those of the SASRI operations, knowledge management and extension environments and which results in the development of cost-effective solutions that are seamlessly transferred and readily adopted by stakeholders.
  • To co-ordinate, guide and inspire the rigour and relevance of research activities and performance of SASRI Research Staff.
  • To develop and participate in initiatives that promote the well-being and professional development of SASRI Research Staff.
Expertise
  • Molecular plant physiology.
  • Research management.
Specific Interests

Regulation of sucrose accumulation, particularly the role played by sugar sensing and signalling mechanisms in mediating the relationship between source and sink activities.

Key Outcomes
  • In conjunction with research collaborators and post-graduate students:
    Demonstrated that the sink strength (stalk sucrose content) is an important determinant of source activity (leaf photosynthesis), a relationship that may underpin certain agronomic phenomena (e.g. reduced spring growth).
  • Identified commonalities in the signalling and transduction pathways for aluminium-induced and oxidative stress in sugarcane roots.
  • Through gene expression profiling, found evidence that hypoxia may play a role in the regulation of stalk carbohydrate metabolism.
  • NRF-rating.
Key Production

Van Heerden PDR, Donaldson R, Watt DA & A Singels (2010). Biomass accumulation in sugarcane – unraveling the factors underpinning reduced growth phenomena. Journal of Experimental Botany 61: 2877-2887.

McCormick AJ, Watt DA & MD Cramer (2009). Supply and demand: sink regulation of sugar accumulation in sugarcane. Journal of Experimental Botany 60: 357-364.

McCormick AJ, Cramer MD & DA Watt (2008). Culm sucrose accumulation promotes physiological decline of mature leaves in ripening sugarcane. Field Crops Research 108: 250-258.

McCormick AJ, Cramer MD & DA Watt (2008). Differential expression of genes in the leaves of sugarcane in response to sugar accumulation. Tropical Plant Biology 1: 142-148.

McCormick AJ, Cramer MD & DA Watt (2008). Regulation of photosynthesis by sugars in sugarcane leaves. Journal of Plant Physiology 165: 1817-1829.

McCormick AJ, Cramer MD & DA Watt (2008). Changes in photosynthetic rates and gene expression of leaves during a source-sink perturbation in sugarcane. Annals of Botany 101: 89-102.

Qualifications
  • Honorary Senior Lecturer (University of KwaZulu-Natal, Howard College).
  • MSc (Witwatersrand), HDipEd (PG) PhD (Natal).

Dr Riekert van Heerden

Programme Manager: Crop Performance & Management

Details

Programme Manager: Crop Performance & Management

Tel: 031 508 7400 (Switchboard)
Tel: 031 508 7439 (Direct)
Email: riekert.vanheerden@sugar.org.za

Role & Overall Purpose

As programme manager, I am responsible for the coordination and management of research within the Crop Performance and Management Research Programme at SASRI. This role involves development of the annual programme of work through encouraging focus, innovation and collaboration in research. As senior scientist, my role is to initiate and conduct research leading to best management practices for sugarcane cultivation in South Africa.

A key outcome of my research is to promote the responsible use of chemical ripeners in the sugar industry. Chemical ripeners enhance the sucrose content of sugarcane during certain parts of the milling season. My research conducted under statistically-designed experimental conditions, and on a much larger commercial scale in participation with sugarcane farmers, has shown that increases in sucrose yields up to 3 tons per hectare can be achieved with chemical ripeners. Success stories, and advice on the use of ripeners, are often shared with farmers at knowledge exchange events and in the form of popular articles, which drives the ongoing adoption of this important crop management practice.

My contribution to farmer sustainability in the South African sugarcane industry was acknowledged when I received the Agriculturist of the Year (KwaZulu-Natal) Award from Agricultural Writers SA in 2011. I am currently also a National Research Foundation (NRF)-rated scientist.

Expertise
  • Physiological and biochemical basis of stress tolerance in plants.
  • Sugarcane quality management, with emphasis on the responsible use of chemical ripeners.
  • Participatory on-farm research and knowledge exchange to promote adoption of best management practices by sugarcane farmers.
Research Interests
  • The use of chemical ripeners for sugarcane quality management focusing on cultivar responses and climatic influences on chemical efficacy.
  • Innovations facilitating on-farm sugarcane quality management decisions to enable the responsible and informed use of chemical ripeners.
  • Participatory on-farm research and knowledge exchange with sugarcane farmers.
Key Outcomes
  • Ensuring the responsible use of chemical ripeners in the South African sugar industry.
  • Conversion of peer-reviewed research findings to best management practices for profitable and sustainable sugarcane production in South Africa.
  •  
Key Publications

van Heerden PDR (2019). Response of selected South African coastal sugarcane varieties to chemical ripeners: Active ingredient effectiveness and associated impacts on grower and miller sustainability. International Sugar Journal 121: 902 – 904.

Van Antwerpen R, van Heerden PDR, Tweddle P, Cheong RN & Riviere V (2018). Advances in harvesting and transport of sugarcane. In: Achieving sustainable cultivation of sugarcane Volume 1: Cultivation techniques, quality and sustainability, Rott P (Ed.), pp. 203 – 234, Burleigh Dodds Science Publishing Limited, Cambridge, UK, ISBN: 978-1-78676-144-6.

van Heerden PDR, Adendorff MW, Lagerwall G, Botha P, Cronjé CPR, van der Merwe J, Nel N, Smith P, Höll E, Hyslop G, Smith V, Harris A., Harris W, Mhlongo JB, Harris DM & Dheopursad J (2015). Grower – Extensionist – Researcher partnerships: On-farm demonstration trials to facilitate adoption of chemical ripening. International Sugar Journal 117: 500-506.

van Heerden PDR, Mbatha TP & Ngxaliwe S (2015). Chemical ripening of sugarcane with trinexapac-ethyl (Moddus®) – Mode of action and comparative efficacy. Field Crops Research 181: 69-75.

van Heerden PDR, Singels A, Paraskevopoulos A & Rossler R (2015). Negative effects of lodging on irrigated sugarcane productivity – an experimental and crop modelling assessment. Field Crops Research 180: 135-142.

van Heerden PDR (2014). Differential acclimation capacity to frost in sugarcane varieties grown under field conditions. Plant Growth Regulation 72: 181 – 187.

van Heerden PDR (2014). Evaluation of Trinexapac-ethyl (Moddus®) as a new chemical ripener for the South African sugarcane industry. Sugar Tech 16(3): 295-299.

van Heerden PDR, Eggleston G & Donaldson RA (2014). Ripening and Post-harvest deterioration. In: Sugarcane Physiology, Biochemistry, and Functional Biology, Botha FC and Moore PH (Eds.), pp. 55 – 84, Wiley-Blackwell, USA, ISBN: 978-0-8138-2121-4.

Lopes MS, Araus JL, van Heerden PDR & Foyer CH (2011). Enhancing drought tolerance in C4 crops. Journal of Experimental Botany 62: 3135-3153.

van Heerden PDR, Donaldson RA, Watt DA & Singels A (2010). Biomass accumulation in sugarcane – unravelling the factors underpinning reduced growth phenomena. Journal of Experimental Botany 61, 2877-2887.

International Consultancy & Training

Over seven years of international consultancy work and training (related to sugarcane quality management) for sugar industries in Chad, Cameroon, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Gabon, Central African Republic, Zimbabwe, Eswatini and Guatemala.

Qualifications
  • M.Sc. – Plant Physiology (Stellenbosch University).
  • Ph.D. – Plant Physiology (North-West University – Potchefstroom campus).

Dr Stuart Rutherford

Programme Manager: Crop Protection

Details

Programme Manager: Crop Protection

Tel: 031 508 7400 (Switchboard)
Tel: 031 508 7529 (Direct)
Email: stuart.rutherford@sugar.org.za

Role & Overall Purpose

As a programme leader, I am responsible for coordinating and managing research within the Crop Protection Research Programme at SASRI. In this role I am involved in the development of the annual programme of work through encouraging focus, innovation and collaboration in research. As a scientist, my role is to initiate, conduct and supervise research leading to best management practices for sugarcane crop protection in South Africa. I am also currently a National Research Foundation (NRF)-rated scientist.

Expertise

Plant Pathology, Entomology, Integrated Pest Management, Soil Science, Physiology & Biochemistry, Molecular Biology.

Research Interests
  • Genomics of pest and disease resistance.
  • Mechanisms of resistance to biotic and abiotic stress.
  • Rapid prediction of pest and disease resistance ratings in sugarcane e.g. using Near Infrared.
  • Primed epigenetic in-vitro mutation breeding for resistance to biotic and abiotic stressors.
  • Plant physiological and priming effects of modern crop protection chemistries.
  • Insect pest, host-plant and microbial interactions. Endophytic Beauveria  and Bacillus for pest control.
  • Application of Chemical Ecology in Integrated Pest Management Systems.
Key Outcomes
  • The development of NIR as a means of phenotyping pest and disease resistance in sugarcane.
  • Herbicide tolerant sugarcane produced by mutagenesis.
  • Fusarium resistant sugarcane produced by mutagenesis having improved resistance to Eldana saccharina.
  • The production of an IPM book on eldana control.
Key Publications

Rutherford, R.S., Smith, G.S. and van Staden, J. (1994) Development of a meridic diet for the sugarcane borer, Eldana saccharinaWalker (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae). Principles, problems and possible in vivo plant resistance mechanisms. Afr. Entomol. 2: 163-174.

Rutherford, R.S. and van Staden J. (1996) Towards a rapid near infra-red technique for the prediction of resistance to the sugarcane borer Eldana saccharina Walker (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae) using stalk surface wax. J. Chem. Ecol. 22: 681-693.

Rutherford, R.S. (1998) Prediction of resistance in sugarcane to the stalk borer Eldana saccharina Walker by near infrared spectroscopy on crude bud scale extracts. The involvement of chlorogenates and flavonoids. J. Chem. Ecol. 24: 1447-1463

Thokoane, L.N. and Rutherford, R.S. (2001) cDNA-AFLP differential display of sugarcane (Saccharum spp, hybrids) genes induced by challenge with the fungal pathogen Ustilago scitaminea (sugarcane smut). Proc S Afr Sug Technol Ass 75: 104-107.

Heinze, B.S., Thokoane, L.N., Williams, N.J., Barnes, J.M. and Rutherford, R.S. (2001) The smut-sugarcane interaction as a model system for the integration of marker discovery and gene isolation. Proc. S. Afr. Sug. Technol. Ass 75: 88-93.

Butterfield, M., Rutherford, R., Carson, D. and Huckett, B. (2004) Application of gene discovery to varietal improvement in sugarcane. SA J. Bot. 70: 167-172.

Rutherford R.S. (2007) Sugarcane Diseases, ecology, and control. In D. Pimentel (Ed.), Encyclopaedia of Pest Management Vol 2.pp 643-646. CRC Press, Taylor & Francis. ISBN 13: 978-1-4200-5361-6

Keeping, M.G., Rutherford, R.S. and Conlong, D.E. (2007) Bt maize as a potential trap crop for management of Eldana saccharina Walker (Lep., Pyralidae) in sugarcane. J. Appl. Entomol. 131: 241-250.

Conlong, D.E. and Rutherford, R.S. (2009) Conventional and New Biological and Habitat Interventions for Integrated Pest Management Systems: Review and Case Studies using Eldana saccharina Walker (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae). In R. Peshin & A.K. Dhawan (Eds.), Integrated Pest Management Vol. 1: Innovation-Development Process, Springer, ISBN 978-1-4020-8991-6.

McFarlane, S.A., Govender, P. and Rutherford, R.S. (2009) Interactions between Fusarium species from sugarcane and the stalk borer Eldana saccharina Walker (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae). Ann. Appl. Biol. 155: 349-359

Ramgareeb , S., Snyman, S.J., van Antwerpen, T. and Rutherford, R.S. (2010) Elimination of virus and rapid propagation of disease-free sugarcane (Saccharum spp. cultivar NCo376) using apical meristem culture. Plant Cell, Tissue Organ Cult. 100: 175-181.

Way, M.J., Conlong, D.E. and Rutherford, R.S. (2012) Biosecurity against invasive alien insect pests: A case study of Chilo sacchariphagus (Lepidoptera: Crambidae) in the southern African region. Int. Sugar J. 114: 359-363.

Koch, A.C., Ramgareeb, S., Rutherford, R.S., Snyman, S.J. & Watt, M.P. (2012) An in vitro mutagenesis protocol for the production of sugarcane tolerant to the herbicide imazapyr. In Vitro Cellular Devel.Biol. – Plant 48: 417-427.

Goble, T.A., Costet, L., Robene, I., Nibouche, S., Rutherford, R.S., Conlong, D. and Hill, M. (2012) Beauveria brongniartii epizootics on white grubs attacking sugarcane in South Africa. J. Invert. Pathol. 111: 225-236.

Mahlanza, T., Rutherford, R.S., Snyman, S.J. and Watt, M.P. (2013) In vitro generation of somaclonal variant plants of sugarcane for tolerance to Fusarium sacchari. Plant Cell Rep. 32: 249-262.

Munsamy, A., Rutherford, R.S., Snyman, S.J. and Watt, M.P. (2013). 5-Azacytidine as a tool to induce somaclonal variants with useful traits in sugarcane (Saccharum spp.). Plant Biotech. Rep. 7: 489-502.

Rutherford, R.S. (2014) Mechanisms of Resistance to Pests and Pathogens in Sugarcane and Related Species. In F.C. Botha & P.H. Moore (Eds.), Sugarcane Physiology, Biochemistry, and Functional Biology. Wiley-Blackwell. ISBN: 978-0-8138-2121-4.

Rutherford, R.S., Snyman, S.J. and Watt, M.P. (2014) In vitro studies on somaclonal variation and induced mutagenesis: Progress and prospects in sugarcane (Saccharum spp.) – a review. J.Hort. Sci. & Biotech. 89: 1-16.

Rhodes, R., Berry, S.D., Ramouthar, P.V. and Rutherford, R.S. (2014) Evaluation of Desmodium uncinatum, Fagopyrum esculentumand Brachiaria humidicola as potential green manure crops for nematode management in sugarcane. S Afr. J. Plant Soil. 31: 25–33.

Sabatier, D.R., Moon, C.M., Mhora, T.T., Rutherford, R.S. and Laing, M.D. (2014) Near-infrared reflectance (NIR) spectroscopy as a high-throughput screening tool for pest and disease resistance in a sugarcane breeding programme. Int. Sugar J. 116: 580-583.

Ghai, M., Singh, V., Martin, L.A., McFarlane, S.A., van Antwerpen, T. and Rutherford, R.S. (2014) A rapid and visual loop-mediated isothermal amplification assay to detect Leifsonia xyli subsp. xyli targeting a transposase gene. Lett. Appl. Microbiol. 59: 648-657.

Mahlanza, T., Rutherford, R.S., Snyman, S.J. and Watt, M.P. (2014) Eldana saccharina (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae) resistance in sugarcane (Saccharum sp.): Effects of Fusarium spp., stalk rind, fibre and nitrogen content. Afr. Entomol. 22: 810-822.

Keeping, M.G., Rutherford, R.S., Sewpersad, C. and Miles, N. (2015) Provision of nitrogen as ammonium rather than nitrate increases silicon uptake in sugarcane. AoB PLANTS 7: plu080; doi:10.1093/aobpla/plu080

Way, M.J., Conlong, D.E., Martin, L.A., McFarlane, S.A., Stranack, R., Keeping, M.G. and Rutherford, R.S. (2015). First record of yellow sugarcane aphid, Sipha flava (Homoptera: Aphididae), in the South African sugarcane industry. International Sugar Journal, 117: 654-656.

Mahlanza, T., Rutherford, R.S., Snyman, S.J. and Watt, M.P. (2015) Potential of Fusarium sacchari-tolerant mutants in controlling Eldana saccharina and borer-associated Fusarium stem rot in sugarcane. European Journal of Plant Pathology 141: online.

Keeping, M.G., Miles, N. and Rutherford, R.S. (2017). Liming an acid soil treated with diverse silicon sources: effects on silicon uptake by sugarcane (Saccharum spp. hybrids). Journal of Plant Nutrition. 40: 1417-1436.

Martin, L.A., Evans, D.L., Castlebury, L.A., Sifundza, J.T., Comstock, J.C., Rutherford, R.S. and McFarlane, S.A. (2017). Macruropyxis fulva sp. nov., an undescribed rust (Pucciniales) infecting sugarcane in southern Africa. Australasian Plant Pathology 46: 63-74 DOI 10.1007/s13313-016-0460-1

Martin, L.A., Rutherford, R.S. and McFarlane, S.A. (2017). Touchdown PCR assay for the rapid diagnosis of tawny rust caused by Macruropyxis fulva on sugarcane. Australasian Plant Pathology 46: 103-105 DOI 10.1007/s13313-016-0464-x

Rutherford, R.S., Maphalala, K.Z., Koch, A.C., Snyman, S.J. and Watt, M.P. (2017). Field and laboratory assessments of sugarcane mutants selected in vitro for resistance to the imidazolinone herbicide imazapyr. Crop Breeding and Applied Biotechnology, 17: 107-114.

Qualifications
  • Honorary Lecturer – University of KwaZulu-Natal (2012 – Present).
  • BSc Hons (Reading), MBA (Cardiff) PhD (Natal).

Natalie Hofmann

Assistant Research Officer: Crop Physiology

Details

Assistant Research Officer: Crop Physiology

Tel: 031 508 7400 (Switchboard)
Tel: 031 508 7366 (Direct)
Email: natalie.hoffman@sugar.org.za

 
Role & Overall Purpose

To perform crop physiological and remote sensing research to support SASRI strategic objectives, that is driven by the sugar industry’s needs and international scientific trends, to ensure improved understanding of crop performance and enable the development of better management practices and breeding procedures.

Expertise
  • Crop physiological basis of stress tolerance in plants
  • Remote sensing (UAV pilot)
  • Sugarcane model application
  • Statistical data analysis
Research Interests
  • Understanding the physiological trait mechanisms driving sugarcane stress tolerance and crop performance
  • Investigating the potential for using crop physiological knowledge, remote sensing and crop modelling to enhance plant breeding
  • High-throughput phenotyping technologies
  • Use of remote sensing (UAV) technologies to advance maturity-based cane quality management, and ultimately increase grower profitability and encourage more judicious use of agrochemicals for ripening
Key Publications

Hoffman, N., Singels, A., Patton, A., & Ramburan, S. (2018) Predicting genotypic differences in irrigated sugarcane yield using the Canegro model and independent trait parameter estimates. European Journal of Agronomy96, 13-21. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eja.2018.01.005

Hoffman, N. (2016) Pot trial phenotyping to predict sugarcane genotype field performance with the Canegro model. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg.

Hoffman, N., & and Singels, A. (2019) Evaluating the use of aerially captured spectral data for characterising drought-tolerance traits in sugarcane. Proceedings of the Australian Society of Sugar Cane Technologists, Australia. 30 April – 3 May 2019.

Hoffman, N., Singels, A., & and Joshi, S. (2020) Remote sensing of physiological traits with drones to assist sugarcane breeding: Preliminary results. Combined Congress of the South African Society for Crop Production, Soil Science Society of South Africa, Southern African Society for Horticultural Sciences and Southern African Weed Science Society, Bloemfontein. 20-23 January 2020.

Qualifications
  • B.Sc. Hons (Chemical, molecular & cellular sciences)- University of Cape Town
  • M.Sc. Crop Science- University of KwaZulu-Natal
  • Ph.D. Crop Science- University of KwaZulu-Natal (in progress)

Dr Nitesh Poona

Crop Scientist: Digital Agriculture

Details

Crop Scientist: Digital Agriculture

Tel: 031 508 7400 (Switchboard)
Tel: 031 508 7446 (Direct)
Email: nitesh.poona@sugar.org.za

Role & Overall Purpose

Collaborate with multi-disciplinary teams of scientists and agricultural engineers to build digitally enabled research capacity, technology development, and knowledge exchange capabilities.

Exploit geospatial data and related technologies to develop digital resources that are rapid, precise, and cost-effective in support of crop improvement, crop protection, and crop management research.

To explore potential commercial opportunities for science-based digital agricultural solutions for sugarcane growers.

Mentoring fellow scientists, postgraduate students, technical staff, and research interns.

Expertise

Remote sensing, GIS, Statistical data analysis, Supervised learning, Digital image processing.

Research Interests

Precision agriculture; developing models using geospatial data and related technologies for optimising sugarcane farming, and modelling plant stress resulting from climate change and pest & disease.

Key Outcomes

To implement and support the sugarcane industry’s Agriculture 4.0 initiatives.

Key Publications

Hacking C, Poona N, & Poblete Echeverría C 2020. Vineyard yield estimation using 2-D proximal remote sensing: a multitemporal analysis. Oeno one 54(4), 793-812.

Loggenberg K & Poona N 2020. A feature selection approach for terrestrial hyperspectral image analysis. South African Journal of Geomatics 9(2), 302-320.

Poona NK & Ismail R 2019. Developing optimized spectral indices using machine learning to model Fusarium circinatum stress in Pinus radiata seedlings. Journal of Applied Remote Sensing 13(3): 034515. doi:10.1117/1.JRS.13.034515.

Hacking C, Poona N, Manzan N, & Poblete-Echeverría C 2019. Investigating 2-D and 3-D proximal remote sensing techniques for vineyard yield estimation. Sensors 19(3652). doi:10.3390/s19173652.

Loggenberg K, Strever A, Greyling B, & Poona N 2018. Modelling water stress in a shiraz vineyard using hyperspectral imaging and machine learning. Remote Sensing 10(202). doi:10.3390/rs10020202.

Poona N, Van Niekerk A, & Ismail R 2016. Investigating the utility of oblique tree-based ensembles for the classification of hyperspectral data. Sensors, 16(11): 1918.

Poona N, Van Niekerk A, Nadel R, & Ismail R 2016. Random Forest (RF) wrappers for waveband selection and classification of hyperspectral data. Applied Spectroscopy 70(2): 322-333.

Poona N & Ismail R 2014. Using Boruta-selected spectroscopic wavebands for the asymptomatic detection of Fusarium circinatum stress. IEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Applied Earth Observations and Remote Sensing 7(9): 3764-3772.

Poona N, Ismail R 2013. Discriminating the occurrence of pitch canker fungus in Pinus radiata trees using QuickBird imagery and artificial neural networks. Southern Forests 75(1): 29-40.

Poona N & Ismail R 2013. Reducing hyperspectral data dimensionality using random forest based wrappers. Proceedings of International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium (IGARSS2013), 21-26 July, Melbourne, Australia. IEEE ISBN 978-1-4799-1114-1/13: 1470-1473.

Poona N & Ismail R 2012. Discriminating the early stages of Fusarium circinatum infection in Pinus radiata seedlings using high spectral resolution data. Proceedings of International Conference of the African Association of Remote Sensing and the Environment (AARSE2012), 29 October-2 November, El Jadida, Morocco.

Poona N & Ismail R 2012. Discriminating the occurrence of pitch canker infection in Pinus radiata forests using high spatial resolution QuickBird data and artificial neural networks. In: Proceedings of International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium (IGARSS2012), 22-27 July, Munich, Germany. IEEE ISBN 978-1-4673-1159-5/12: 3371-3374.

Qualifications
  • MSc (Environmental Science): University of KwaZulu-Natal
  • PhD (Geoinformatics): Stellenbosch University

Dr Lawrence Malinga

Entomologist

Details

Entomologist

Tel: 031 508 7400 (Switchboard)
Tel: 031 508 7485 (Direct)
Email: lawrence.malinga@sugar.org.za

Role & Overall Purpose

To initiate and conduct research, technology development and knowledge exchange projects to ultimately enable the integrated pest management (IPM) of current and emerging pests of sugarcane by small- and large-scale growers.

Expertise

Biological Control, Entomology, Nematology, Organic Control, Technology Transfer, Project Management.

Research Focus
  • The development and delivery of area wide IPM tools for pests, particularly Eldana
  • Establishing proof-of-concept of the potential of the novel SASRI F1 sterile insect technology (SIT) to serve as an effective component of Eldana IPM
  • Collaboration in research, technology development and knowledge exchange projects that require entomological expertise
  • In conjunction with the SASRI Extension, Biosecurity and Knowledge Management functions, communicate on pest management issues with industry role-players and stakeholders at all levels.
  • Contribute entomological expertise in support of SASRI operations and services, including:
  • Production of arthropod materials for: (a) sugarcane screening trials for Eldana resistance; (b) approved research projects; and (c) the weed biocontrol agent production service; and
  • Commercial studies commissioned and funded by external third parties on pest control compounds or agents deemed by SASRI to have potential value to sugarcane growers.
Key Publications

Malinga, L. 2005. Constraints of Cotton Pest Control in Small-scale Farming Systems. Cotton Workshop, ARC-IIC: Rustenburg, South Africa.

Malinga, L. 2005. Cotton Pests and their Lifecycle. Cotton Extension Workshop, ARC-IIC: Rustenburg, South Africa.

Malinga, L. and E. Eulitz. 2008. Organic insecticides and nematicides for small-scale cotton farmers. 23rd International Congress of Entomology, Durban, South Africa

Malinga, L. 2007. Efficacy of natural substances for pest control in organic cotton by small-scale farmers. Proceedings: 16th Congress of the Entomological Society of South Africa, Stellenbosch University: Stellenbosch, South Africa.

Malinga, L. 2010. Presentation Titles: South African Cotton Production and Research Report Integrated Pest Management in Cotton. Proceedings: 9th & 10th Meetings of the Southern and Eastern African Cotton Forum and the IPM Workshop, Lusaka, Zambia.

Malinga, L. 2011. Quantitative assessment of insect pests and predatory arthropods on intercropped organic cotton in South Africa. Proceedings: 17th Congress of the Entomological Society of South Africa, University of Free State: Bloemfontein, South Africa.

Malinga, L. 2014. The role of scientific research in making cotton a sustainable and profitable business in Africa. Proceedings: 2nd Meeting of the Southern and Eastern African Cotton Forum: Maputo, Mozambique.

Malinga, L. 2015. Efficacy of biopesticides for pest control in cotton. Proceedings: 19th Congress of the Entomological Society of South Africa, Rhodes University: Grahamstown, South Africa.

Malinga, L. 2016. Efficacy of Organic Nematicides on Meloidogyne javanica for Small-Scale Cotton Farmers in South Africa. Proceedings: WCRC–6 and 2016 Biennial Conference of the ICGI, Goiânia, Brazil.

Malinga, L. N. 2017. Evaluation of Plant Extracts for the Control of Helicoverpa ArmigeraDiparopsis Castanea and Earias Insulana in Cotton for Small-scale Farmers. Cotton Research Journal, 8 (1): 12-19.

Kranthi, K. R., Malinga, L. and Mubvekeri, W. 2018. Perspectives on Cotton Research and Ideas for Africa- Proceedings & Recommendations of the XIV Meeting of the Southern & Eastern African Cotton Forum. The ICAC Recorder, 36 (3): 4-13.

Malinga, L., 2019. Southern and Eastern African Cotton Forum: Platform for the advancement of cotton production in Africa. South African Journal of Science, 115 (9-10), 6-8.

Malinga, L. N. and Laing, M. D., 2021. Efficacy of three biopesticides against cotton pests under field conditions in South Africa. Crop Protection, 105578.

Qualifications
  • BSc in Zoology and Entomology, University of Fort Hare
  • BSc (Hons) in Entomology, University of Fort Hare
  • MSc in Entomology, University of Fort Hare
  • PhD in Entomology, University of KwaZulu-Natal

Dr Malcolm Keeping

Senior Entomologist

Details

Senior Entomologist

Tel: 031 508 7400 (Switchboard)
Tel: 031 508 7483 (Direct)
Email: malcolm.keeping@sugar.org.za

View profile on ResearchGate

Role & Overall Purpose
  • To initiate and carry out research into novel, inter-disciplinary approaches for the integrated management of the sugar industry’s key insect pests, with emphasis on host plant resistance and chemical ecology.
  • To mentor post-graduate students or post-doctoral fellows pursuing IPM studies of sugarcane pests in South Africa, and to forge collaborative links with other researchers and institutions, local and international, within this field.
  • To manage the routine potted-cane screening programme for susceptibility of unreleased sugarcane germplasm to stalk borer (Eldana saccharina) and to provide expertise for assessment of other novel sources of resistance to key sugarcane pests.
Expertise
  • Quantitative study of insect behaviour and communication.
  • Integrated pest management of sugarcane pests.
  • Mechanisms of host plant resistance and methodology of assessing plant resistance to insects.
  • The role of silicon in plant defence against insects.
  • Insect chemical ecology.
  • Behavioural ecology of social insects.
Research Interests
  • Integrated pest management (IPM, especially via host plant resistance (conventional, induced and engineered).
  • Insect behaviour and communication, including chemical communication.
  • Silicon-mediated resistance of plants to insect herbivores, and the interaction between crop nutrition, plant stress, soil health and insect performance.
  • Chemical ecology of insect-plant interactions and the use of chemical-ecological approaches in IPM.
Key Outcomes
  • Identification, via sugarcane screening programme, of six sugarcane genotypes resistant to Eldana saccharina borer that have subsequently been released to the South African sugar industry.
  • Numerous enhancements introduced to the germplasm screening methodology for borer resistance (technical and statistical).
  • Demonstrated importance of silicon as a plant nutrient that enhances resistance of sugarcane to stalk borer in silicon-deficient soils, especially under conditions of water stress and in cultivars that are susceptible to the borer.
  • Elucidated mechanisms of silicon-mediated resistance to stalk borer and their likely positive interaction with other IPM tactics.
  • Demonstrated that silicon can reduce impact of higher nitrogen applications in promoting borer infestations.
  • Demonstration of potential of ammoniacal fertilizers to improve silicon uptake of sugarcane from applied calcium silicate.
  • Identification of most effective sources of silicon for use in sugarcane grown in acid soils out of a total of 17 sources tested.
  • Identification of Bt-maize as a potential dead-end trap crop (pull plant) for Eldana saccharina in sugarcane.
  • Demonstrated that young cane is especially susceptible to sugarcane thrips Fulmekiola serrata and that adjustments to planting and/or ratooning dates (temporal resistance) can assist in avoiding damaging infestations in young cane.
  • Demonstration that increased plant nitrogen levels can increase sugarcane thrips infestations.
  • Identification of commercial cultivars that are susceptible and relatively resistant to sugarcane thrips and to yellow sugarcane aphid (Sipha flava).
Key Publications

van Antwerpen, R, van Heerden, P.D.R, Keeping, M.G., Titshall, L.W., Jumman, A., Tweddle, P.B., van Antwerpen, T., Ramouthar, P.V. & Campbell, P.L. 2022. A review of field management practices impacting root health in sugarcane. Advances in Agronomy 173: 79-162.

Camargo, M.S. & Keeping, M.G. 2021. Silicon in sugarcane: availability in soil, fertilization, and uptake. Silicon doi.org/10.1007/s12633-020-00935-y

Keeping, M.G., Miles, N. & Rutherford, R.S. (2017). Liming an acid soil treated with diverse silicon sources: effects on silicon uptake by sugarcane (Saccharum spp. hybrids). Journal of Plant Nutrition doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01904167.2016.1267751

Keeping, M.G. (2017). Uptake of silicon by sugarcane from applied sources may not deflect plant-available soil silicon and total silicon content of sources. Frontiers in Plant Science 8: 760, doi: 10.3389/fpls.2017.00760

Keeping M.G., Miles, N. & Sewpersad, C. 2014. Silicon reduces impact of plant nitrogen in promoting stalk borer (Eldana saccharina) but not sugarcane thrips (Fulmekiola serrata) infestations in sugarcane. Frontiers in Plant Science 5: 289, doi: 10.3389/fpls.2014.00289.

Keeping, M.G., Rutherford, R.S., Sewpersad, C. & Miles, N. 2014. Provision of nitrogen as ammonium rather than nitrate increases silicon uptake in sugarcane. AoB PLANTS 6, DOI: 10.1093/aobpla/plu080.

Keeping, M.G., Meyer, J.H. & Sewpersad, C. 2013. Soil silicon amendments increase resistance of sugarcane to stalk borer Eldana saccharina Walker (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae) under field conditions. Plant and Soil 363:297–318.

Rhodes, R., Miles, N. & Keeping, M.G. 2013. Crop nutrition and soil textural effects on eldana damage in sugarcane. Proceedings of the South African Sugar Technologists’ Association 86: 121-136.

Joshi, S.V., Zhou, M. & Keeping, M.G. 2012. Comparison of natural versus artificial inoculation methods for Eldana resistance screening in sugarcane. Proceedings of the South African Sugar Technologists’ Association 85: 246-255.

Keeping, M.G., Kvedaras, O.L. & Bruton, A.G. 2009. Epidermal silicon in sugarcane: cultivar differences and role in resistance to sugarcane borer Eldana saccharina. Environmental and Experimental Botany 66: 54-60.

Kvedaras, O.L., Byrne, M.J., Coombes N.E. & Keeping, M.G. 2009. Influence of plant silicon and sugarcane cultivar on mandibular wear in the stalk borer Eldana saccharinaAgricultural and Forest Entomology 11: 301-306.

Reynolds, O.L., Keeping, M.G. & Meyer, J.H. 2009. Silicon-augmented resistance of plants to insect herbivores: a review. Annals of Applied Biology 155: 171-186.

Keeping, M.G. & Reynolds, O.L. 2009. Silicon in agriculture: new insights, new significance and growing application. Annals of Applied Biology 155: 153-154.

Keeping, M.G. & Kvedaras, O.L. 2008. Silicon as a plant defence against insect herbivory: response to Massey, Ennos and Hartley. Journal of Animal Ecology 77: 631-633.

Keeping, M.G., Rutherford, R.S. & Conlong, D.E. 2007. Bt-maize as a potential trap crop for management of Eldana saccharina Walker (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae) in sugarcane. Journal of Applied Entomology 131: 241-250.

Kvedaras, O.L., Keeping, M.G., Goebel, F-R. & Byrne, M.J. 2007. Water stress augments silicon-mediated resistance of susceptible sugarcane cultivars to the stalk borer, Eldana saccharina Walker (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae). Bulletin of Entomological Research 97: 175-183.

Kvedaras, O.L., Keeping, M.G., Goebel, F-R. & Byrne, M.J. 2007. Larval performance of the pyralid borer Eldana saccharina Walker and stalk damage in sugarcane: influence of plant silicon, cultivar and feeding site. International Journal of Pest Management 53: 183-194.

Kvedaras, O.L. & Keeping, M.G. 2007. Silicon impedes stalk penetration by the borer Eldana saccharina in sugarcane. Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata 125: 103-110.

Butterfield, M.K., Keeping, M.G. & Sewpersad, C. 2007. Estimating genetic parameters and the efficacy of molecular breeding for resistance to the stalk borer Eldana saccharina. Proceedings of the International Society of Sugarcane Technologists 26: 691-696.

Keeping, M.G. 2006. Screening of South African sugarcane cultivars for resistance to the stalk borer Eldana saccharina Walker (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae). African Entomology 14: 277-288.

Keeping, M.G. & Meyer, J.H. 2006. Silicon-mediated resistance of sugarcane to Eldana saccharina Walker (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae): effects of silicon source and cultivar. Journal of Applied Entomology 130: 410-420.

Keeping, M.G. & Meyer, J.H. 2002. Calcium silicate enhances resistance of sugarcane to the African stalk borer Eldana saccharina Walker (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae). Agricultural and Forest Entomology 4: 265-274.

Qualifications
  • Honorary Researcher (University of the Witwatersrand).
  • BSc Hons, PhD (Witwatersrand).

Thobile Nxumalo

Scientist: Variety Evaluation

Details

Scientist: Variety Evaluation

Tel: 031 508 7400 (Switchboard)
Tel: 031 508 7312 (Direct)
Email: thobile.nxumalo@sugar.org.za

Role & Overall Purpose
  • To conduct agronomic research on different sugarcane varieties by managing projects aimed at understanding varietal responses to different agro-climatic regions.
  • To make recommendations to Extension Specialists and growers in the sugar industry, based on outcomes of research projects.
Expertise

Data analysis, agronomy, crop physiology.

Research Interests
  • Varietal responses to different agronomic practices.
  • Integrating plant breeding procedures and crop growth models to improve crop performance.
  • Developing decision support tools for extension specialist and growers.
Key Publications

Mbatha TP & Modi AT (2010). Response of local mustard germplasm to water stress. South African Journal of Plant and Soil, 27:4, 328-330.

Mbatha TP, Ramburan S & Smit MA (2011). Evaluating sugarcane cultivar responses to trashing: preliminary observations. Proc S Afr Sug Technol Ass 84: 164 – 168

Mbatha TP & van Heerden PDR (2013). Chemical ripener responses in irrigated sugarcane varieties at Pongola (SOUTH AFRICA). Proc S Afr Sug Technol Ass 86: 156 – 159

van Heerden PDR, Mbatha TP & Ngxaliwe S (2015). Chemical ripening of sugarcane with trinexapac-ethyl (Moddus®) – Mode of action and comparative efficacy. Field Crops Research 181: 69-75.

Nxumalo T, Morris A & Germishuizen I (2017) Quantifying the impact of Uromycladium acaciae (wattle rust) on black wattle (Acacia mearnsii) growth and productivity. Technical Note 14/2017

Fraser S, McTaggart AR, Moreno Chan J, Nxumalo T, Shuey LS, Wingfield M & Roux J (2018). An artificial inoculation protocol for Uromycladium acaciae, cause of a serious disease of Acacia mearnsiiin southern Africa. Southern Forests: A Journal of Forests Science.  DOI: 10.2989/20702620.2018.1468985

Qualifications
  • BSc (Biochemistry and Chemistry) – University of KwaZulu Natal
  • MSc Agric (Crop Science) – University of KwaZulu-Natal

Tondani Mishasha

Assistant Research officer: Breeding

Details

Assistant Research officer: Breeding

Tel: 031 508 7400 (Switchboard)
Tel: 031 508 7535 (Direct)
Email: tondani.mishasha@sugar.org.za

Role & Overall Purpose
  • To plan and conduct plant breeding trials for the Midlands region
  • To plan, develop and conduct plant breeding research aimed at improving sugarcane quality traits across the agro-climatic regions of the South African sugar industry
Expertise
  • Plant breeding
  • Experimental trial design
  • Applied statistical data analysis
  • Family selection of sugarcane
Research Interests
  • Optimising sugarcane breeding and selection for sugarcane quality traits
  • Family evaluation
  • Family by environment interaction
  • Genetic and phenotypic interrelationships among sugarcane traits
  • Genetic effects for sugarcane traits
Qualifications
  • BSc Botany and Plant breeding, University of the Free State, South Africa
  • BSc Agriculture (Honours), University of the Free State, South Africa
  • MSc Agriculture, Plant breeding, University of the Free State, South Africa
Publications

Mishasha T, Zhou M and Van Der Merwe R (2018). Phenotypic correlations among cane quality traits measured from unselected sugarcane breeding family plots. Proceedings of South African Sugarcane Technologists Association 91: 173-176.

Mishasha T, Zhou M and Van Der Merwe R (2019). Using quantitative genetic parameters to determine sample size for sucrose content in sugarcane breeding. Proceedings of South African Sugarcane Technologists Association 92: 43-46.

Mishasha T, Zhou M and Van Der Merwe R (2022). Evaluating additive and non-additive genetic effects for sugarcane Brix. Proceedings of South African Sugarcane Technologists Association 94: 56-60.

Lindani Mchunu

Assistant Research officer: Variety Evaluation

Details

Assistant Research officer: Variety Evaluation

Tel: 031 508 7400 (Switchboard)
Tel: 031 508 7540 (Direct)
Email: lindani.mchunu@sugar.org.za

Role & Overall Purpose
  • To conduct and assist with research within variety-related projects
  • To plan and coordinate variety field trials across SA sugar industry
Expertise

Data analysis, agronomy, plant breeding

Specific Interests
  • Varietal responses to different agronomic practices
  • Developing decision support tools for extension specialists and sugarcane grower.
  • Communicating new technology through research for small-scale sugarcane growers
Qualifications
  • BSc Agriculture (Plant Science) – University of KwaZulu-Natal
  • MSc Agriculture (Crop Science) – University of KwaZulu-Natal

Anushka Gokul

Agrochemical Scientist

Details

Agrochemical Scientist

Tel: 031 508 7400 (Switchboard)
Tel: 031 508 7447 (Direct)
Email: anushka.gokul@sugar.org.za

Role & Overall Purpose

Co-ordination and facilitation of research into promising new agrochemical and biological products including those with insecticidal, nematicidal and herbicidal activities, with the aim of contributing to strategic and sustainable management of the industry’s major pests.

Expertise

Plant pathology, Molecular biology, Microbiology, Biological control and Chemical pathology.

Research Intersts
  • The safe, practical and sustainable application of agrochemical and biological compounds to reduce yield losses caused by pests, diseases, nematodes and weeds.
  • New agrochemical and biological compounds or agents for application and registration in sugarcane agriculture.
Focus Areas
  • To contribute to the development of agrochemical management strategies to minimise yield losses due to pests, diseases, nematodes and weeds.
  • Assessing efficacy of new chemical compounds (nematicide, herbicide and insecticide) against sugarcane pests.
  • Conduct field trials and glasshouse trials towards agrochemical product registration.
  • To compile information generated from agrochemical research into outputs and recommendations.
 
 
Key Publications

Lamprecht, S.C, Spies, C.J., Phasoana, T and Gokul, A. 2020. Seedling diseases lead to poor establishment [Online]. Available: https://sagrainmag.co.za/2020/08/05/seedling-diseases-lead-to-poor-establishment/

Beukes, A. Gokul, L.J. Rose, A. Viljoen, B. Flett and G. van Collar. 2020. Investigating the identification and host-specificity of Fusarium graminearum species complex members in South Africa. Proceedings of: The 1st African Symposium on Mycotoxicology. Livingstone, Zambia.

Gokul, A., Beukes, I., Viljoen, A. Rose, l. 2015. Abstract “Evaluating MALDI-TOF MS and PCR RFLP for the accurate identification of Fusarium graminearum species complex members in South Africa”. EFS13/13th European Fusarium Seminar. Martina Franca, Italy.

Gokul, A., Beukes, I., Viljoen, A. Rose, l. 2015. Abstract “Chemotype determination and mycotoxin production of Fusarium graminearum from wheat and maize in South Africa”. EFS13/13th European Fusarium Seminar. Martina Franca, Italy.

Qualifications
  • MSc. Plant Pathology (Stellenbosch University).
  • BSc. (Hons) Chemical Pathology (Stellenbosch University).
  • BSc. Molecular biology and Biotechnology (Stellenbosch University).

Dr Iona Basdew

Biosecurity Scientist

Details

Biosecurity Scientist

Tel: 031 508 7400 (Switchboard)
Tel: 031 508 7489(Direct)
Email: iona.basdew@sugar.org.za

Role & Overall Purpose

To contribute to the monitoring, and strategic and sustainable management of the industry’s major pests.

Expertise

Biological Control, Plant Pathology, Microbiology, Entomology, Virology, Animal Health.

Research Focus
  • Investigate and devise incursion and containment strategies for existing and potential new biosecurity threats facing the industry.
  • Analysis and modelling of industry pest and disease prevalence data to understand population dynamics of the pests and factors that influence distribution and abundance within the industry.
  • Maintain the Chilo sacchariphagus incursion prevention plan.
  • Maintain the SASRI insect collection, adding new specimens of potential significance to the industry.
Key Publications

Kassim, A., Workneh, T.S., Laing, M.D., Basdew, I.H. (2016). The effects of different pre-packaging treatments on the quality of kumquat fruit. CTYA Journal of Food 14 (4): 639-648. DOI: 10.1080/19476337.2016.1190407.

Kassim, A., Workneh, T.S., Laing, M.D., Basdew, I.H. (2016). Development and evaluation of a small-scale in-field integrated postharvest citrus treatment unit – Part 1. International Journal of Food Engineering.

Basdew, I.H. and Laing, M.D. (2015). Biological and pathogenicity assays of South African bacteriophages specific for Staphylococcus aureus, associated with bovine mastitis. Biocontrol Science and Technology 25 (4), 429-443.

Basdew, I.H., Laing, M.D. (2014). Sensitivity assays of bacteriophages associated with Staphylococcus aureus, causal organism of bovine mastitis.  African Journal of Microbiology Research 8 (2), 200-210.

Basdew, I.H., Laing, M.D. (2011). Biological control of bovine mastitis using bacteriophage therapy. In Science against Microbial Pathogens: Communicating Current Research and Technological Advances, Méndez-Vilas, A. (ed.). Formatex: Spain, pp 386-393.

Basdew, I.H., Gubba, A., Laing M.D.  (2002). Abstract “The application of baculoviruses as biological control agents against black cutworm, Agrotis ipsilon”.  15th Annual Symposium of the South African Society for Microbiology (KZN Branch).

Basdew, I.H., Laing, M.D., Gubba, A. (2003). The application of baculoviruses as biological control agents against insect pests.  Proceedings of Microscopy Society of Southern Africa, Volume 33, pp 50.

Popular article: I.H. Basdew, M.D. Laing, P.H. Mapham, J.H. Vorster. 2013. The biological control of bovine mastitis using bacteriophage therapy. Oorsig Review, Livestock Health and Production Review 17 (2), 6-11.

Academic Texts: Basdew, I.H., M.D. Laing (ed.) 2010. African Centre for Crop Improvement: Literature reviews and PRA’s, 2006 yearbook. African Centre for Crop Improvement, University of KwaZulu-Natal. ISBN 978-0-620-46808-4.

Academic Texts: Basdew, I.H., M.D. Laing (ed.) 2010. African Centre for Crop Improvement: Literature Reviews and PRA’s, 2007 Yearbook. African Centre for Crop Improvement, University of KwaZulu-Natal. ISBN 978-0-9869811-0-4.

Academic Texts: Basdew, I.H., M.D. Laing (ed.) 2010. African Centre for Crop Improvement: Literature Reviews and PRA’s, 2008 Yearbook. African Centre for Crop Improvement, University of KwaZulu-Natal. ISBN 978-0-98698811-1-1.

Academic Texts: Basdew, I.H., M.D. Laing (ed.) 2010. African Centre for Crop Improvement: Literature Reviews and PRA’s, 2009 Yearbook. African Centre for Crop Improvement, University of KwaZulu-Natal. ISBN 978-0-9869811-2-83.

Qualifications
  • BSc (Hons), University of KwaZulu-Natal
  • MSc (Plant Pathology and Microbiology), University of KwaZulu-Natal
  • PhD (Plant Pathology), University of KwaZulu-Natal

Khanyisile Buthelezi

Assistant Entomologist

Details

Assistant Entomologist

Tel: 031 508 7400 (Switchboard)
Tel: 031 508 7489 (Direct)
Email: iona.basdew@sugar.org.za

Role & Overall Purpose

To participate in entomology research projects with a focus on  laboratory bioassays of bio insecticides for Eldana saccharina Walker.

Expertise

Entomology.

Research Interests

Testing efficacy of new bio insecticides on Eldana saccharina Walker.

Key Outcomes

Understanding the effect that bio insecticides have on all different life stages of Eldana saccharina Walker.

Qualifications
  • BSc. Entomology and Zoology UKZN (PMB)
  • Environmemtal Management  (Hons) UNISA

Slindile Nqayi

Assistant Nematologist

Details

Assistant Nematologist

Tel: 031 508 7400 (Switchboard)
Tel: 031 508 7522 (Direct)
Email: slindile.nqayi@sugar.org.za

Role & Overall Purpose
  • To conduct research within the Nematology department via field and pot trials.
  • To assist with managing Nematology laboratory and staff.
  • To planning and supervise field work under Nematology research.
 
 
Expertise
  • Laboratory research
  • Field-related work
  • Basic Nematology
  • Biocontrol
Research Interests
  • Practical, effective and safe methods of nematode control.
  • Development of a wide variety of nematode control methods.
  • Collaborative research across disciplines.
Key Outcomes
  • Practical control methods for nematodes.
  • Novel methods for control of nematodes.
  • Assessing new chemicals for nematicidal efficacy.
Key Publications

Sithole, S. B., Keeping, M. G., Smit, M. A., Mkhize, N. D. and Sewpersad, C. 2011. Effect of water availability on silicon uptake by sugarcane and silicon- mediated resistance to Eldana saccharina. Proc S Afr Sug Technol Ass. 84:193-197.

Keeping, M. G., Miles, N., Sewpersad, C. and Sithole S. 2011. The silicon: nitrogen interaction in relation to infestations of the stalk borer, Eldana saccharina, in sugarcane. Proceedings of: The 5th International Conference on Silicon in Agriculture, Beijing, China.

Qualifications
  • BSc. Biological Sciences, Environmental Biology – University of KwaZulu-Natal
  • MSc. Entomology – Rhodes University

Dr Marvellous Zhou

Senior Plant Breeder

Details

Senior Plant Breeder

Tel: 031 508 7400 (Switchboard)
Tel: 031 508 7534 (Direct)
Email: marvellous.zhou@sugar.org.za

Role & Overall Purpose

To plan, develop and implement breeding and selection strategies for the production of high yielding, disease and pest resistant sugarcane varieties adapted to the major agro-bioclimatic zones of the SA sugar industry.

Expertise
  • Early generation and family selection of sugarcane.
  • Genotype by environment interaction.
  • Applied Quantitative Genetics.
  • Experimental design.
  • Applied Statistical analysis.
Research Interests

Optimising sugarcane breeding and selection process, quantifying optimum selection rates to maximise genetic gains, GxE interaction, trait interrelationships and their influence on breeding and selection, parent evaluation using breeding values, family selection, recurrent selection to improve commercial traits in gene pool.

Key Outcomes
  • Optimised breeding and selection process.
  • Quantified selection rates for important traits.
  • Increased genetic gains across stages and over time.
Key Publications

Zhou, M.M. and Gwata E.C.T. (2016). Quantifying Sugarcane Cultivar Genetic Gains in the Midlands region of South Africa. Agronomy Journal 108: 1-7.

Zhou, M.M. and Gwata, E.C.T. (2015). Location effects and their implications on breeding for sugarcane yield and quality in the Midlands region of South Africa. Crop Science 55: 2628-2638.

Zhou, M.M. (2015). Selection for eldana borer resistance in early stages of sugarcane breeding in South Africa. American Journal of Plant Sciences 6: 2168 – 2176.

Zhou, M.M. and Mokwele, A. (2015). Family versus individual genotype selection for Eldana saccharina resistance in early stages of sugarcane breeding. South African Journal of Plant and Soil 2015: 1-8.

Zhou, M.M. (2015). Minimum detectable differences for cane yield, sucrose content and sugar yield among the Midlands and coastal short cycle breeding programmes in South Africa. South African Journal of Plant and Soil 32: 175-182.

Mendes de Paula, T.O., Marinho, C.D., Souza, V., Barbosa, M.H.P., Peternelli, L.A., Kimbeng, C.A. and Zhou, M.M. (2014). Relationships between methods of variety adaptability and stability in sugarcane. Genetics and Molecular Research 13(2): 4216–4225.

Zhou, M.M. (2014). Family evaluation for sugarcane yield using data estimated from stalk number, stalk height and stalk diameter. Journal of Crop Improvement 28(3): 406-417.

Joshi, S.V., Zhou, M.M., Leslie, G.W., Way, M.J. and Keeping, M.G. (2014). Comparison of methods for determining thrips (Fulmekiola serrata) damage and implications for resistance screening. International Sugar Journal. 116: 197-199.

Zhou, M.M., Kimbeng, C.A., Tew, T.L., Gravois, K.A., Pontif, M. and Bischoff, K.P. (2014). Logistic regression models to aid selection in early stages of sugarcane breeding. Sugar Tech: 16: 150-156.

Zhou, M.M., Kimbeng, C.A., Andru, S., Tew, T.L. and Gravois, K.A. (2013). Evaluating sugarcane families for yield potential and repeatability using random coefficient models. Crop Science 53: 2352-2362.

Zhang, J., Zhou, M.M., Walsh, J. Chen, Y. and Ming, R. (2013). Sugarcane Genetics and Genomics. Pp 623-643. In: Moore, PH and Botha, FC, eds. Sugarcane: Physiology, Biochemistry, and Functional Biology. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN-13: 978-0-8138-2121-4\2014.

Zhou, M.M. (2013). Conventional sugarcane breeding in South Africa: Progress and future prospects. American Journal of Plant Sciences 4: 189-197.

Zhou, M.M. (2013). Using Logistic regression model for selection in non-replicated sugarcane breeding populations. Euphytica 191: 415-428.

Zhou, M.M., Kimbeng, C.A., Edme, S. and Hale, A.L. (2013). Characterization of Saccharum species germplasm for starch content. Canadian Journal of Plant Studies Vol 2(1) 54-71.

Zhou, M.M., Lichakane, M.L. and Joshi, S.V. (2013). Family evaluation for quality traits in South African Sugarcane breeding programmes. International Sugar Journal 115: 418-430.

Ramburan, S., Zhou, M.M., and Labuschagne, M. (2012). Integrating empirical and analytical approaches to investigate genotype x environment interactions in sugarcane. Crop Science 52(5): 2153–2165.

Zhou, M.M. and Lichakane, M.L. (2012). Family selection gains for quality among South African breeding populations. South African Journal of Plant and Soil 29: 143-149.

Zhou, M.M., Suman, A. and Kimbeng, C.A. (2012). Molecular markers associated with starch content and implications for sugarcane introgression breeding using Saccharum spontaneum. Journal of Agricultural Science and Technology Vol 2(11): 1127-1137.

Zhou, M.M. and Shoko, M.D. (2012). Simultaneous selection for yield and ratooning ability in sugarcane genotypes using analysis of covariance. South African Journal of Plant and Soil 29(2): 93-100.

Zhou, M.M., Chihana, A. and Parfitt, R.C. (2012). Optimum replications and crop-years for sugarcane variety trials at Dwangwa sugar estate in Malawi. South African Journal of Plant and Soil 29(1): 31–38.

Zhou, M.M. and Joshi, S.V. (2012). Trends in broad sense heritability and implications for sugarcane breeding in South Africa. Sugar Tech 14(1): 40–46.

Ramburan, S., Zhou, M.M. and Labuschagne, M. (2012). Investigating test site similarity, trait relations and causes of genotype by environment interactions in the Midlands region of South Africa. Field Crops Research 129: 71–80.

Zhou, M.M. and Shoko, M.D. (2012). Simultaneous selection for yield and stability in sugarcane using parametric statistics. Journal of Agricultural Science and Technology Volume 2 Number 4: 400-410.

Zhou, M.M., Joshi, S.V. and Maritz, T. (2012). Trends and implications of genotype by environment interaction in South African sugarcane breeding. Journal of Crop Improvement 26: 1–14.

Ramburan, S., Zhou, M.M. and Labuschagne, M. (2011). Interpretation of genotype x environment interactions of sugarcane: Identifying significant environmental factors. Field Crops Research 124: 392–399.

Zhou, M.M., Kimbeng, C.A., Tew, T.L., Gravois, K.A. and Pontiff, P. (2011). Artificial Neural Network Models as a Decision Support Tool for Selection in Sugarcane: A Case Study Using Two Seedling Populations. Crop Science 51: 1–11.

Zhou, M.M. and Shoko, M.D. (2011). Seasonal and Varietal Influence on Tiller Population Development of Sugarcane (Saccharum species hybrids). South African Journal of Plant and Soil 28(1): 11–16.

Zhou, M.M., Kimbeng, C.A., Tew, T.L. and Shoko, M.D. (2011). Trends in Starch and Sucrose Content among Sweet Sorghum Genotypes and Implications for Sucrose and Ethanol Production. Journal of Agricultural Science and Technology 5: 160–166.

Zhou, M.M., Kimbeng, C.A., Edme, S., Hale, A. and Eggleston, G. (2011). Sustainability of Low Starch Concentrations in Sugarcane Through Short Term Optimized Amylase and Long Term Breeding Strategies. In G Eggleston (editor). Sustainability of the Sugar and Sugar Ethanol Industries. American Chemical Society: 229-250.

Zhou, M.M., da Silva, J.A., Kimbeng, C.A. and White, W.H. (2010). Cross Resistance between the Mexican Rice Borer and the Sugarcane Borer (Lepidoptera: Crambidae): A Case Study Using Sugarcane Breeding Populations. Crop Science 50: 1–9.

Zhou, M.M. and Kimbeng, C.A. (2010). Multivariate Repeated Measures: A Multivariate Statistical Approach for Analyzing Sugarcane Breeding Trials Data. Proceedings of SASTA 83: 92–105.

White, W.H., Kimbeng, C.A., Gravois, K.A. and Zhou, M.M. (2009). Breeding Resistant Sugarcane for Managing Stem borers: Progress and Prospects for Louisiana. Proceeding of the International Society of Sugar Cane Technologists 27: 1–10.

Zhou, M.M. and Shoko, M.D. (2009). Modelling Leaf Area of Sugarcane Varieties Using Non-Destructive Leaf Measurements. Sugar Cane International: Volume 27(4): 158–165.

Kimbeng, C.A., Zhou, M.M. and da Silva, J.A. (2009). Genotype by environment interactions and resource allocation in sugarcane yield trials in the Rio Grande valley region of Texas. Journal of the American Society of Sugar Cane Technologists 29: 11–24.

Zhou, M.M., Kimbeng, C.A., Eggleston, G., Viator, R.P., Hale, A.L. and Gravois, K.A. (2008). Issues of Starch in sugarcane processing and prospects of breeding for low starch content in sugarcane. Sugarcane International 26: 3–17.

Qualifications
  • Associate Professor of Plant Breeding: University of the Free State.
  • PhD (Plant Breeding and Genetics), Louisiana State University, USA.
  • Masters of Applied Statistics, Louisiana State University, USA.
  • MSc Agriculture, University of Natal, South Africa.
  • BSc Agriculture (Honours), University of Zimbabwe.

Dr Shailesh Joshi

Plant Breeder

Details

Plant Breeder

Tel: 031 508 7400 (Switchboard)
Tel: 031 508 7541 (Direct)
Email: shailesh.joshi@sugar.org.za

Role & Overall Purpose
  • To develop and implement innovative research by developing new strategies to best utilise novel molecular genetic methods and information in combination with quantitative genetic theory in order to improve the efficacy and cost effectiveness of the breeding programmes.
  • To implement new strategies by using molecular markers in planned crossing and selection programmes ensuring integrated approaches trait improvement across breeding programmes and important traits.
  • To manage the long-term sustainability of variety improvement through the use of molecular markers to enhance introgression of new germplasm into the commercial breeding and to assess the potential of novel variety types for alternative uses of sugarcane.
Expertise
  • Introgression breeding of yield improving traits and for disease resistance from wild relatives of crop plants.
  • Marker Assisted Selection, experience in working with molecular markers.
  • Designing and execution of crossing and selection programmes.
Research Interests
  • Marker Assisted selection in sugarcane.
  • Gene identification and discovery in sugarcane through functional and comparative genomics.
Key Outcomes

Planned crosses for resistance breeding based on parents molecular marker types. Molecular breeding for resistance to pest and diseases.

Key Publications

Joshi SV, Zhou M and Keeping MG (2012) Comparison of natural versus artificial inoculation methods for Eldana resistance screening in sugarcane. Proc S Afr Sug Technol Ass 85: 246-255.

Marvellous Zhou and Shailesh Joshi (2012) Trends in Broad Sense heritability and implications for sugarcane breeding in South Africa. Sugar Tech 14 (1) : 40-46.

Marvellous Zhou, Shailesh Vinay Joshi and Tracy Maritz (2012) Trends and implications of genotype by environment interaction in South African sugarcane breeding. Journal of Crop Improvement 26:1–14.

Zhou M, Lichakane M and Joshi SV (2012) Family Evaluation for quality traits in South African sugarcane breeding programmes. Proc S Afr Sug Technol Ass 85: 221-226.

Zhou M, Joshi S, Maritz T and Koberstein H (2011) Components of genotype by environment interaction among SASRI regional breeding and selection programmes and their implications. Proc S Afr Sug Technol Ass 84:363-374.

Qualifications
  • PhD (Genetics), Punjab Agricultural University, India.
  • MSc (Genetics & Plant Breeding), P.D.K.V, India.
  • BSc (Agriculture), P.D.K.V, India.

Moipei Lichakane

Assistant Plant Breeder

Details

Assistant Plant Breeder

Tel: 031 508 7400 (Switchboard)
Tel: 031 508 7538 (Direct)
Email: moipei.lichakane@sugar.org.za

Role & Overall Purpose
  • To develop and implement innovative research by developing new strategies to best utilise novel molecular genetic methods and information in combination with quantitative genetic theory in order to improve the efficacy and cost effectiveness of the breeding programmes.
  • To implement new strategies by using molecular markers in planned crossing and selection programmes ensuring integrated approaches trait improvement across breeding programmes and important traits.
  • To manage the long-term sustainability of variety improvement through the use of molecular markers to enhance introgression of new germplasm into the commercial breeding and to assess the potential of novel variety types for alternative uses of sugarcane.
Expertise
  • Introgression breeding of yield improving traits and for disease resistance from wild relatives of crop plants.
  • Marker Assisted Selection, experience in working with molecular markers.
  • Designing and execution of crossing and selection programmes.
Research Interests
  • Marker Assisted selection in sugarcane.
  • Gene identification and discovery in sugarcane through functional and comparative genomics.
Key Outcomes

Planned crosses for resistance breeding based on parents molecular marker types. Molecular breeding for resistance to pest and diseases.

Key Publications

Joshi SV, Zhou M and Keeping MG (2012) Comparison of natural versus artificial inoculation methods for Eldana resistance screening in sugarcane. Proc S Afr Sug Technol Ass 85: 246-255.

Marvellous Zhou and Shailesh Joshi (2012) Trends in Broad Sense heritability and implications for sugarcane breeding in South Africa. Sugar Tech 14 (1) : 40-46.

Marvellous Zhou, Shailesh Vinay Joshi and Tracy Maritz (2012) Trends and implications of genotype by environment interaction in South African sugarcane breeding. Journal of Crop Improvement 26:1–14.

Zhou M, Lichakane M and Joshi SV (2012) Family Evaluation for quality traits in South African sugarcane breeding programmes. Proc S Afr Sug Technol Ass 85: 221-226.

Zhou M, Joshi S, Maritz T and Koberstein H (2011) Components of genotype by environment interaction among SASRI regional breeding and selection programmes and their implications. Proc S Afr Sug Technol Ass 84:363-374.

Qualifications
  • PhD (Genetics), Punjab Agricultural University, India.
  • MSc (Genetics & Plant Breeding), P.D.K.V, India.
  • BSc (Agriculture), P.D.K.V, India.

Sharon McFarlane

Senior Plant Pathologist

Details

Senior Plant Pathologist

Tel: 031 508 7400 (Switchboard)
Tel: 031 508 7523 (Direct)
Email: sharon.mcfarlane@sugar.org.za

Role & Overall Purpose
  • To investigate outbreaks of disease in the field and to provide advice and support to Extension specialists and Local Pest, Disease and Variety Control Committees (LPD&VCC) relating to the identification, monitoring and management of sugarcane diseases.
  • To conceive, initiate, conduct and direct research in applied sugarcane pathology in order to provide a sound basis for the understanding of the epidemiologies of pathogens and for the management of diseases.
Expertise
  • Extension pathology.
  • Communicating research findings and observations to growers, LPD&VCC’s and other interested parties.
  • Molecular identification of Fusarium species in sugarcane.
Research Interests
  • Diagnosis, epidemiology and management of diseases.
  • Effect of Fusarium species isolated from sugarcane on the development and fecundity of the borer Eldana Saccharina.
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

McFarlane, SA, Meyer, JH, Cadet, P and Rutherford, RS (2008). Investigation into the effect of nutrition on brown rust development in sugarcane. Proc S Afr Sug Technol Ass (in press).

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 press).

McFarlane, SA and Rutherford, RS (2005). Fusarium species isolated from sugarcane in KwaZulu-Natal and their effect on Eldana saccharina (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae) development in vitro. Proc S Afr Sug Technol Ass 79: 120-124.

Qualifications
  • BSc Honours (Natal).
  • MSc (Natal).

Aimee Koch

Quarantine Pathologist

Details

Quarantine Pathologist

Tel: 031 508 7400 (Switchboard)
Tel: 031 508 7531  (Direct)
Email: aimee.koch@sugar.org.za

Role & Overall Purpose

Conducts research in disease diagnostics and phytosanitation, new sugarcane diseases, and procedures to improve quarantine processes. Manages the Quarantine Facility ensuring that all precautionary measures and techniques are carried out correctly and quarantine standards are improved and maintained according to international guidelines and SASRI standard operating procedures. Liaises with pathologists in other quarantine facilities and with SASRI plant breeders. Attends to specialist advisory requests on disease diagnostics, and offers advice to growers and extension specialists when requested.

Expertise

Molecular detection and characterisation of sugarcane pathogens by PCR, RT-PCR, RT-qPCR & sequencing. Management of the quarantine glasshouse, imports & exports, fungicide screenings and field trials, NIR, tissue culture, mutagenesis & AFLP analysis.

Research Interests

Molecular disease diagnostics; sugarcane viral diseases; detection and control of sugarcane rusts; NIR data collection and building of disease models; conducting field trials and observation plots; using AFLP techniques to detect polymorphisms linked to disease tolerance; meristem culture and in vitro methods for virus elimination.

Key Outcomes

Conducting research on improving diagnostic methods and introducing new diagnostic techniques and control methods for existing and new pathogens.

Key Publications

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

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 and Developmental Biology-Plant 48: 417-427.

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

McFarlane SA, Ismael Ameer RB, Kistan CJ and Koch AC (2021). Efficacy of mechanical harvester decontamination procedures to reduce the risk of ratoon stunt (RSD) spread. Proceedings of the South African Sugar Technologists Association (2021) 93: 129 - 139

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.

Qualifications

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

Tholoana Mofurutsi

Assistant Research Officer: Pathology

Details

Assistant Research Officer: Pathology

Tel: 031 508 7400 (Switchboard)
Tel: 031 508 7526 (Direct)
Email: tholoana.mofurutsi@sugar.org.za

Role & Overall Purpose

To provide technical expertise in microbiology and molecular biology, principally within the SASRI Crop Protection research programme.

Expertise
  • Microbiology
  • Molecular biology
  • In vitro plant propagation
Key Outcomes

Integrated plant resistance, chemical and microbial alleviation of abiotic and biotic plant stress.

Qualifications
  • BSc Microbiology and Genetics (UFS)
  • BSc Hons in Microbiology (UNISA)

Carla Kistan

Assistant Plant Pathologist

Details

Assistant Plant Pathologist

Tel: 031 508 7400 (Switchboard)
Tel: 031 508 7530 (Direct)
Email: carla.kistan@sugar.org.za

Role & Overall Purpose

To provide expertise in Microbiology and Molecular Biology with a focus on plant Pathology and Entomology, thereby  contributing towards the biosecurity and sustainability of the SA sugarcane industry.

Expertise
  • Leading and coordinating field and glasshouse trials.
  • Maintaining the SASRI fungal and bacterial culture collection.
  • Identification of diseases through molecular and microbiological procedures.
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.

Qualifications

BSc Microbiology, Biochemistry (UKZN), Btech Biotechnology (DUT)

Dr Rianto van Antwerpen

Programme Manager: Systems Design & Optimisation

Details

Programme Manager: Systems Design & Optimisation

Tel: 031 508 7400 (Switchboard)
Tel: 031 508 7400 (Direct)
Email: rianto.vanantwerpen@sugar.org.za

Role & Overall Purpose
  • To conduct research into soil physical aspects restricting sugarcane yields.
  • To develop procedures and guidelines to improve the soil environment for sustained sugarcane production.
  • To transfer technology to extension officers, growers and other role-players in the SA sugar industry.
  • To manage a portfolio of research projects within the SDO programme.
Expertise
  • Water storage capacity of soils, soil salinity/ sodicity, soil compaction, tillage practices, root distribution, sugarcane residue management, organic ameliorants, soil health.
Research Interests
  • Impact of clay type and quantity and organic matter on soil water relationships, root distribution, buffer capacity of the soil against degradation and soil health indicators.
  • Modelling root growth and distribution and crop water use.
  • The purpose and outcomes of long-term trials.
  • Measurements to quantify the condition of soils.
  • Promoting crop rotation, organic matter use and by-product re-cycling within the sugar industry.
Key Outcomes
  • Carbon distribution between shoots and roots.
  • Water balance model for stressed sugarcane.
  • Tillage techniques to improve yields on marginal soils.
  • Nutritional and yield benefits of sugarcane residue and other organic products.
  • Soil health indicators for the SA sugar industry.
Key Publications

Dominy, CS, Haynes, RJ and Van Antwerpen, R (2002). Loss of soil organic matter and related soil properties under long-term sugarcane production on two contrasting soils. Biol Fertil Soils 36: 350-356.

Donaldson, RA, Redshaw, KA, Rhodes, R and van Antwerpen, R (2008). Season effects on productivity of some commercial South African sugarcane cultivars: II. Trash production. Proc S Afr Sug Technol Ass 81: 528-538.

Galdos MV, Cerri CC, Cerri CEP, Paustian K & Van Antwerpen R (2009). Simulation of Soil Carbon Dynamics under Sugarcane with the CENTURY Model. Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J. 73: 802-811.

Galdos MV, Cerri CC, Cerri CEP, Paustian K & Van Antwerpen R (2010). Simulation of sugarcane residue decomposition and aboveground growth. Plant and Soil 326 (1): 243-259 (DOI 10.1007/s11104-009-0004-3).

Graham, MH, Haynes, RJ and Van Antwerpen, R (2002). Size and activity of the soil microbial biomass in the row and inter-row of a sugarcane field under burning and green cane harvesting. Proc S Afr Sug Technol Ass 76: 186-195.

Kingston, G, Donzelli, J.L., Meyer, J.H., Richard, E.P, Seeruttun, S., Torres J., and Van Antwerpen, R. (2005). Impact of the green cane harvest and production system on the agronomy of sugarcane. Proc Int Soc Sugar Cane Technol 25:521-531.

Marx, BJ, Bezuidenhout, CN, Lyne, PWL, Van Antwerpen, R (2006). Soil compaction decision support. Proc S Afr Sug Technol Ass 80: 140-107.

Meyer, JH and Van Antwerpen, R (2010). Advances in sugarcane soil fertility research in South Africa. SA J Plant Soil 27(1): 19-31.

Meyer, JH, Van Vuuren JA and Van Antwerpen, R (2005). The potential role of near infra red reflectance (NIR) monitoring in precision agriculture (PAG). Proc S Afr Sug Technol Ass 79: 202-309.

Miles, N, Meyer, JH and Van Antwerpen, R (2008). Soil organic matter data: What do they mean? Proc S Afr Sug Technol Ass 81: 324-332.

Purchase BS, Wynne AT, Meyer E and Van Antwerpen R (2008). Is there profit in cane trash ? – Another dimension to the assessment of trashing versus burning. Proc S Afr Sug Technol Ass 81: 86-99.

Singels, A, Van den Berg, M and Van Antwerpen, R (2005). Climate change and yield decline: An analysis of actual and simulated yield data from the BT1 field experiment. Proc S Afr Sug Technol Ass 79: 491-494.

Singels A, van den Berg M, Smit MA, Jones MR, van Antwerpen R (2010). Modelling water uptake, growth and sucrose accumulation of sugarcane subjected to water stress. Field Crops Research 117: 59–69.

Van Antwerpen, R (2005). Indicators of soil health and their importance – a review. Proc S Afr Sug Technol Ass 79: 179-191.

Van Antwerpen, R, Berry, SD, Van Antwerpen, T, Sewpersad, C and Cadet, P (2009). Indicators of soil health for use in the South African sugar industry: A work in progress. Proc S Afr Sug Technol Ass 82: 551-563.

Van Antwerpen, R, Conlong, D and Miles, N (2011). Nutrient management options for reducing Eldana Saccharina (lepidoptera: pyralidae) infestation of trashed sugarcane fields: Results from a preliminary study. Proc S Afr Sug Technol Ass 84: 298 – 300. (Short Comm)

Van Antwerpen, R, Haynes, RJ, Meyer, JH, and Hlanze, D (2003). Assessing organic amendments used by sugarcane growers for improving soil chemical and biological properties. Proc S Afr Sug Technol Ass 77: 293-304.

Van Antwerpen, R, Lyne, PWL, Meyer, E and Brouwers, M (2007). Changes in bulk density of a virgin soil due to compaction by commercial haulage vehicles. Proc Int Soc Sug Cane Technol 26: 470-475.

Van Antwerpen, R, Lyne, PWL, Meyer, E and Brouwers, M (2008). Effect of surface applied pressure by vehicles fitted with pneumatic tyres on properties of a virgin soil. Proc S Afr Sug Technol Ass 81: 408-417.

Van Antwerpen, R, Meyer, JH and Thompson, GD (2006). The impact of trashing on yield response in the South African sugar industry: A summary of results from several BT trials. Proc S Afr Sug Technol Ass 80: 130-133.

Van Antwerpen, R, Rhodes, R and Wynne, A (2008). Economics of trashing: Improvement and sensitivity analysis of this decision support program. Proc S Afr Sug Technol Ass 81: 486-488.

Van Antwerpen, T, Van Antwerpen, R, Meyer, JH, Naidoo, P, Berry, S, Spaull, V, Govender, K, Cadet, P, Rutherford, S and Laing, M (2007). Biotic and abiotic factors associated with a healthy soil in sugarcane production in KwaZulu-Natal. Proc Int Soc Sug Cane Technol 26: 273-281.

Qualifications

BSc Agric; MSc Agric; PhD (Free State).

Dr Louis Titshall

Senior Soil Scientist

Details

Senior Soil Scientist

Tel: 031 508 7400 (Switchboard)
Tel: 031 508 7437 (Direct)
Email: louis.titshall@sugar.org.za

Role & Overall Purpose
  • Undertake soil and plant nutrition research and develop recommendations for sugarcane production.
  • Transfer technology and best practices to growers and other stakeholders.
  • Promote best practices for soil health and site sustainability.
  • Mentor junior scientists and staff.
Expertise

Soil chemistry and fertility, plant nutrition, soil and foliar diagnostics and analytics, soil organic matter, soil health, site sustainability monitoring, soil physics.

Research Interests
  • Soil fertility and plant nutrition.
  • Soil health and quality.
  • Rapid screening and diagnostic tools for soil and plant nutrition, and health monitoring.
  • Site sustainability monitoring.
  • Understanding the impacts of management practices on soil quality and function.
  • Conversion of science outcomes to practical best practice and operational guidelines.
  • Value-chain integration of research outcomes and operational practices.
Key Outcomes
  • Best operational practices for crop nutritional and soil health based on scientific outcomes.
  • Responsible use of soil amendments used in crop production.
  • Efficient tools and techniques for improved soil assessment and monitoring.
  • Adoption of sustainable practices that ensure long-term productivity and profitability of agroecosystems.
Key Publications

Taylor T, Hughes J, Titshall LW. 2016. Mineralogy of volcanically-derived, alluvial soils at Moshi, Tanzania. Soil Research 54(8): 926-936.Mthimkhulu S, Podwojewski P, Hughes J, Titshall LW, Van Antwerpen R. 2016. The effect of 72 years of sugarcane residues and fertilizer management on soil physico-chemical properties. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 225: 54–61

Podwojewski P, Grellier S, Mthimkhulu S, Titshall LW. 2014. How tree encroachment and soil properties affect soil aggregate stability in an eroded grassland in South Africa. Soil Science Society of America Journal 78: 1753-1764

Bame IB, Hughes JC, Titshall LW and Buckley, CA. 2014. The effect of irrigation with anaerobic baffled reactor effluent on nutrient availability, soil properties and maize growth. Agricultural Water Management. 134: 50–59

Titshall LW, Rietz DN and Dovey SB. 2013. Management impacts on the long-term soil productivity of southern African commercial forestry plantations. Southern Forests, 75(4): 169-183

Bame IB, Hughes JC, Titshall LW and Buckley, CA. 2013. Leachate characteristics as influenced by anaerobic baffled reactor effluent application on three soils: a soil column study. Chemosphere, 93: 2171-2179.

Norris M and Titshall LW. 2012. The distribution of inherent phosphorus in fifteen water treatment residues from South Africa. Water SA, 38:716-720.

Taylor TS, Titshall LW, Hughes JC and Thibaud GR. 2012. Effect of tillage systems and nitrogen application rates on selected physical and biological properties of a clay loam soil in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. South African Journal of Plant and Soil, 29: 47-52.

Dlamini, P, Orchard, C, Jewitt, G, Lorentz, S, Titshall, LW, Chaplot, V. 2011. Controlling factors of sheet erosion under degraded grasslands in the sloping lands of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Agricultural Water Management, 98:1711-1718.

 

 

Titshall LW. 2015. Residual effects of long-term fertiliser application on soil chemical properties. ICFR Technical Note 06/2015. Institute for Commercial Forestry Research, PMB, SA.

Titshall LW. 2014. Sixth rotation growth results from Acacia mearnsii fertiliser trial provide insight into the residual effects of fertiliser application. ICFR Technical Note 03/2014. Institute for Commercial Forestry Research, PMB, SA.

Titshall LW. 2014. Growth responses to late-rotation fertilisation of pine sawtimber stands: 2.5 year results. ICFR Bulletin Series 07/2014. Institute for Commercial Forestry Research, PMB, SA.

Titshall LW. 2013. Mid-rotation fertilisation of eucalypt pulpwood plantations: Final results. ICFR Bulletin Series 09/2013. Institute for Commercial Forestry Research, PMB, SA.

Titshall LW. 2013. Post-thinning fertilisation of three Eucalyptus grandis sawtimber stands; Tzaneen: 43 month growth responses and an economic feasibility analysis. ICFR Bulletin Series 06/2013. Institute for Commercial Forestry Research, PMB, SA.

Titshall LW. 2012. The development of a soil and plant reference and archive collection at the ICFR. ICFR Bulletin Series 05/2012. Institute for Commercial Forestry Research, PMB, SA.

Titshall LW. 2012. Evidence of residual phosphorus after mid-rotation fertilisation in three eucalyptus pulpwood stands. ICFR Technical note 03/2012. Institute for Commercial Forestry Research, PMB, SA.

Titshall LW, Rietz DN and Dovey, SB. 2012. A general review of site and management factors affecting long-term site productivity of commercial forestry plantations. ICFR Bulletin Series 07/2012. Institute for Commercial Forestry Research, PMB, SA.

Qualifications
  • BSc: Grassland Science and Zoology (Univ. of Natal, 1998)
  • BSc Honours: Grassland science (Univ. of Natal, 1999)
  • MSc: Environmental Science (Univ. of Natal, 2003)
  • PhD: Soil Science (Univ. of KwaZulu-Natal, 2008)

Dr Thandile Mdlambuzi

Soil Scientist

Details

Soil Scientist

Tel: 031 508 7400 (Switchboard)
Tel: 031 508 7457 (Direct)
Email: thandile.mdlambuzi@sugar.org.za

Role & Overall Purpose
  • Undertake soil and plant nutrition research for sugarcane production
  • Promote good agricultural practices for soil health
  • Mentor young scientists and students
Expertise

Soil fertility, Soil chemistry, Soil moisture, Greenhouse gas emissions, Soil physics, Soil health.

Research Interests
  • Soil fertility
  • Soil moisture
  • Soil health
  • Plant nutrition
  • Irrigation
Research Interests

Mdlambuzi T. and Muchaonyerwa P. 2014. Heavy metal concentrations in indigenous vegetables grown on sewage sludge disposal land. South African Combined Congress, Rhodes University, RSA.

Mphethe Tongwane, Thandile Mdlambuzi, Mokhele Moeletsi, Mitsuru Tsubo, Vuyo Mliswa, Lunga Grootboom. 2016. Greenhouse gas emissions from different crop production and management practices in South Africa. Environmental development.

Mdlambuzi T. and Grootboom L. 2017. Utilizing organic waste to improve soil nutrient content and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. Harvest SA.

Mdlambuzi T., Muchaonyerwa P., Tsubo M. and Moshia E.M. 2020. Nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium fertilizer value of biogas slurry and cattle manure for soybean (Glycine max), dry bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) and maize (Zea mays L.). Heylion Journal.

Mdlambuzi Thandile, Muchaonyerwa Pardon, Tsubo Mitsuru. 2020. Short-term effects of selected organic fertiliser sources on carbon dioxide fluxes and soil quality. Journal of Environmental Quality, DOI: 10.1002/jeq2.20174.

Qualifications
  • BSc-Agric (Soil Science) – University of Forte Hare
  • BSc-Hns (Soil Science); MSc (Soil Science); PhD (Soil Science) – University of KwaZulu Natal

Nikki Sewpersad

Biometrician

Details

Biometrician

Tel: 031 508 7400 (Switchboard)
Tel: 031 508 7456 (Direct)
Email: nikki.sewpersad@sugar.org.za

Role & Overall Purpose

To ensure that statistically valid research is conducted at SASRI.

Expertise

Consulting with researchers about their research projects, gaining subject area knowledge and helping to formulate research questions, advising on the best statistical designs to use, by reference to past experiences and best practices, analysing data, ensuring that the analyses are designed to meet the objectives of the experiment, and assisting with the interpretation of the results.

Specific Interests

An effectively managed flow of SASRI data (capturing, processing and storing) and statistical validity in all SASRI trials.

Qualifications

MSc (Stellenbosch)

Ingrid Thompson

GIS Specialist

Details

GIS Specialist

Tel: 031 508 7400 (Switchboard)
Tel: 031 508 7439 (Direct)
Email: ingrid.thompson@sugar.org.za

Role & Overall Purpose
  • To provide a mapping service (GIS, GPS and remote sensing) to SASRI (Research and Extension) and stakeholders.
  • To manage databases using relevant software and keeping abreast with technology.
  • Liaise with other researchers to formulate  projects which aim to explore and implement new technologies, and improve the quality of the service.
  • To train SASRI staff in relevant technologies to assist in their field of work.
  • To supervise GIS staff and interns in the office and also in the field
Expertise
  • Arc GIS server and Portal (WebGIS).
  • GeoDatabase Administration and GIS modelling.
  • Hyperspectral remote sensing.
  • Land Use Planning.
Research Interests
  • Developing a Web GIS system that is accessible to relevant disciplines within the industry.
  • Providing remotely sensed information for proactive decision-making.
Key Outcomes
  • Accurate mapping of sugarcane growing areas.
  • Incorporation of static data into GIS to create models that assist in problem solving and decision making.
  • Efficiency in monitoring operations in research farms and in Extension areas.
  • Accessibility of spatial data to all stakeholders.
Key Publications

Van den Berg M, McElligot DM, Rhodes R, McFarlane SA and Mthembu IB. 2009. SASRI’s monitor farm:Putting theory into practice.  Proc S Afr Sug Technol Ass 82: 636 – 638

Mthembu IB, Collings KA and Maher GW. 2014. Review of the SASRI geographic information system service. Proc S Afr Sug Technol Ass 87: 126

Qualifications
  • BSc Plant Molecular Biology (Natal)
  • (HDE) Higher Diploma in Education (Natal)
  • BSoc Sci (Hons) Geographical Science (Natal)
  • MSc Environment and Development (UKZN)
  • Certificate: Advanced Remote Sensing, Image Processing and GIS in Natural Resource Management (ITC Enschede)
  • Certificate: Management Development Programme (DUT BSU)

Timothy Thompson

Data Support Manager

Details

Data Support Manager

Tel: 031 508 7400 (Switchboard)
Tel: 031 508 7452 (Direct)
Email: timothy.thompson@sugar.org.za

Aresti Paraskevopoulos

Scientific Programmer

Details

Scientific Programmer

Tel: 031 508 7400 (Switchboard)
Tel: 031 508 7566 (Direct)
Email: aresti.paraskevopoulos@sugar.org.za

Role & Overall Purpose
  • Develop and maintain sugarcane crop models, and use these for applied research.
  • Running and development of crop forecast, MyCanesim irrigation advice service.
  • Development of software support tools.
Expertise
  • Simulation modelling.
  • Software development in C#, VB, PHP and Java.
Research Interests
  • Crop simulation modelling.
  • Software support programs.
  • Irrigation scheduling, soil-water-balance.
  • Operations Research.
  • Computer Science.
  • Mathematics.
  • Web programming.
  • Algorithms.

Phillemon Sithole

Assistant Agrometeorologist

Details

Assistant Agrometeorologist

Tel: 031 508 7400 (Switchboard)
Tel: 031 508 7435 (Direct)
Email: phillemon.sithole@sugar.org.za

Role & Overall Purpose
  • Acquisition and processing of weather data into useful decision support information for all industry stakeholders.
  • Producing regular sugarcane crop forecasts using the Canesim Crop Forecasting System and disseminating results to key industry stakeholders.
Expertise
  • Weather data acquisition and processing
  • Crop modelling
Specific Interests
  • Soil-crop-climate interactions.
  • Web-based decision support tools (technology development).
  • Crop Modelling.
Qualifications

MSc. Agricultural Meteorology (University of Zimbabwe)

Dr Ashiel Jumman

Agricultural Engineer

Details

Agricultural Engineer

Tel: 031 508 7400 (Switchboard)
Tel: 031 508 7431 (Direct)
Email: ashiel.jumman@sugar.org.za

Role & Overall Purpose
  • Identify knowledge gaps and research needs.
  • Initiate, manage and conduct research and development projects and provide expert advice and technical support to unique water related problems in the context of sugarcane production.
Expertise
  • Assessment of irrigation systems design & management alternatives with respect to costs and crop yield response.
  • Irrigation system monitoring and evaluation.
  • Irrigation scheduling and soil water monitoring.
Research Interests
  • Sugarcane agriculture and optimal utilisation of water resources.
  • Water use strategies in the context of climate change and climate variability.
  • Energy use for sugarcane production.
  • Sustainable farming practices.
Key Publications

Armitage, R, Lecler, NL, Jumman, A and Dowe, K. 2008. Implementation of the Irriecon V2 decision support tool to assess net returns to irrigation systems. Proc S Afr Sug Technol Ass (2008)45.

Jumman, A and Lecler, NL. 2008. A continuous water potential measurement system for irrigation scheduling assessment. SANCID 2008 symposium. Langebaan. Western Cape. RSA.

Jumman, A and Lecler, NL. 2009. A tool for the analysis of irrigation design alternatives. SABI Congress. Vanderbijlpark. Gauteng. RSA.

Lecler, NL and Jumman A. Irrigated sugarcane crop production functions. Proc S Afr Sug Technol Ass (2009)604.

Jumman, A and Lecler, NL. 2009. Short comm.: A continuous water potential measurement system for irrigation scheduling assessment. Proc S Afr Sug Technol Ass (2008)608.

Jumman A and Lecler N.L. 2010. Deficit Irrigation: A potential strategy to counteract the escalating electricity tariffs and water shortages. Proc S Afr Sug Technol Ass (2010)160.

Jumman A and Lecler N.L. 2010. Poster. Electricity tariff increases: The impact on irrigators? Proc S Afr Sug Technol Ass (2010)152.

Qualifications

MSc Eng (Agriculture), PhD (UKZN)

Dr Peter Tweddle

Agricultural Engineer

Details

Agricultural Engineer

Tel: 031 508 7400 (Switchboard)
Tel: 031 508 7434 (Direct)
Email: peter.tweddle@sugar.org.za

Role & Overall Purpose

Agricultural mechanisation research:

  • Farm machinery and road transport systems,
  • Analysis and costing of systems.
Expertise

Farm infrastructure, irrigation and mechanisation systems engineering.

Research Interests

Mechanisation and transport initiatives:

  • System analyses, costings and optimisation.
  • Equipment performance and efficiencies.
  • Sugarcane logistics and vehicle optimisation.
  • RTMS and PBS vehicles.
  • Soil compaction and stool damage.
  • Farming systems.
  • New technology.
Qualifications

BSc Eng (University of Natal), PhD (UKZN)

Dr Sandy Snyman

Programme Manager: Variety Improvement Principal Scientist: Biotechnology

Details

Programme Manager: Variety Improvement
Principal Scientist: Biotechnology

Tel: 031 508 7400 (Switchboard)
Tel: 031 508 7460 (Direct)
Email: sandy.snyman@sugar.org.za

Role & Overall Purpose
  • As Variety Improvement Programme Manager, I co-ordinate and facilitate research to attain established strategic objectives.
  • As Principal Scientist: Biotechnology, I initiate, manage and drive tissue culture, micropropagation and genetic transformation research projects that will contribute to improved sugarcane varieties.
  • As an Honorary Senior Lecturer at UKZN, I collaborate with academic staff and supervise post-graduate students.
  • I am also an NRF-rated scientist and recipient of research funding from TIA-Biosafety SA, the latter enabling collaborative research with specialists at other SA Universities.
  • I liaise with Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Directorate: Plant Genetic Resources on GM related issues.
Expertise
  • In vitro tissue culture of sugarcane for the purposes of micropropagation, transgenesis, virus elimination, mutagenic breeding and germplasm conservation.
  • Molecular characterisation of transgenic plants and agronomic assessment of transgenic sugarcane in the field.
  • Regulatory framework for GM crops within SA.
  • Conducting risk assessments of GM crops for field release.
Research Interests
  • Deployment of NovaCane® and N12 Zapyr plants to the South African sugarcane industry.
  • Progressing commercial release of eldana resistant Bt GM sugarcane that is also herbicide tolerant.
  • Conducting biosafety research for regulatory approval of GM sugarcane.
  • Germplasm conservation via slow growth and cryopreservation.
  • Virus elimination via osmo- and cryo-therapy.
  • The use of chemical mutagenesis to improve selected characteristics of South African sugarcane germplasm.
Key Outcomes
  • Production of transgenic sugarcane that is eldana resistant and herbicide tolerant.
  • Applied use of tissue culture for rapid bulking of sugarcane cultivars. The process has been registered as a trademark, NovaCane®.
  • Deployment of N12 Zapyr, produced by mutagenic breeding, that is tolerant to imazapyr herbicide.
  • Osmo- and cryo-therapy of shoot tips for virus elimination.
Key Publications

Gonzales-Arnao MT, Banasiak M, Snyman SJ, Sershen (2020). The potential of cryotherapy to remove Sugarcane Mosaic Virus from sugarcane (Saccharum spp. hybrids) shoot tips. CryoLetters 41(5):267-271.

Snyman SJ, Naidoo M, MP Watt and Rutherford RS (2019). An in vitro screening system to assess aluminium toxicity in sugarcane (Saccharum spp.) In Vitro Cellular and Developmental Biology – Plant 55:403-408. DOI: 10.1007/s11627-019-09994-2

Mahlanza T, Rutherford RS, Snyman SJ and Watt MP (2019). Methylglyoxal-induced enhancement of somatic embryogenesis and associated metabolic changes in sugarcane (Saccharum spp. hybrids). Plant Cell Tissue and Organ Culture 136(2):279-287. DOI 10.1007/s11240-018-1513-7

Snyman SJ, Komape DM, Khanyi H, van den Berg J, Cilliers D, Lloyd Evans D, Barnard S and Siebert SJ (2018). Assessing the likelihood of gene flow from sugarcane (Saccharum hybrids) to wild relatives in South Africa. Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology 6:72. DOI: 10.3389/fbioe.2018.00072

Koetle MJ, Lloyd Evans D, Singh V, Snyman SJ, Rutherford RS and Watt MP (2018). Agronomic evaluation and molecular characterisation of the acetolactate synthase gene in imazapyr tolerant sugarcane (Saccharum hybrid) genotypes. Plant Cell Reports 37(8):1201-1213. DOI: 10.1007/s00299-018-2306-5

Snyman SJ, Banasiak M, Mhlanga P, Mupanehari E and Watt MP (2018). Strategies for maintaining and increasing throughput of in vitro cultures of sugarcane. Acta Horticulturae 1205:763-768. DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2018.1205.95

Snyman SJ, Shezi SN and Ramburan S (2018). Field assessment of in vitro micropropagated NovaCane® sugarcane (Saccharum species hybrids). Sugar Tech 20(5):609-612. DOI 10.1007/s12355-017-0574-y

Banasiak M and Snyman SJ (2017). Exploring in vitro germplasm conservation options for sugarcane in South Africa. In Vitro Cellular and Developmental Biology – Plant 53:402-409. DOI 10.1007/s11627-017-9853-2

Rutherford RS, Maphalala KZ, Koch AC, Snyman SJ and Watt MP (2017). Field and laboratory assessments of sugarcane mutants selected in vitro for resistance to imazapyr herbicide. Crop Breeding and Applied Biotechnology 17:107-114. DOI 10.1590/1984-70332017v17n2a17.

Hajari E, Snyman SJ and Watt MP (2017). The effect of form and level of inorganic N on nitrogen use efficiency of sugarcane grown in potsJ Plant Nutrition 40(2):248-257. DOI 10.1080/01904167.2016.1237648.

Snyman SJ, Mhlanga P and Watt MP (2016). Rapid screening of sugarcane plantlets for in vitro mannitol-induced stress. Sugar Tech 18:437-440. DOI 10.1007/s12355-015-0411-0.

Snyman SJ, Hajari E, Watt MP, Lu Y and Kridl JC (2015). Improved nitrogen use efficiency in transgenic sugarcane: phenotypic assessment in a pot trial under low nitrogen conditions. Plant Cell Reports 34:667-669. DOI 10.1007/s00299-015-1768-y.

Hajari E, Snyman SJ and Watt MP (2015). Nitrogen use efficiency of sugarcane (Saccharum spp.) varieties under in vitro conditions with varied N supply. Plant Cell Tissue and Organ Culture 122:21-29. DOI 10.1007/s11240-015-0746-y.

Mahlanza T, Rutherford RS, Snyman SJ and Watt MP (2015). Potential of Fusarium sacchari-tolerant mutants in controlling Eldana saccharina and borer-associated Fusarium stem rot in sugarcane. European Journal of Plant Pathology (accepted) DOI 10.1007/s10658-014-0582-7.

Mahlanza T, Rutherford RS, Snyman SJ and Watt MP (2014). Eldana saccharina (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae) resistance in sugarcane (Saccharum sp.): Effects of Fusarium spp., stalk rind, fibre and nitrogen content. African Entomology 22(3): 810-822.

Hajari E, Snyman SJ and Watt MP (2014). Inorganic nitrogen uptake kinetics of sugarcane (Saccharum spp.) varieties under in vitro conditions and with varying N supply. Plant Cell Tissue and Organ Culture: Journal of Plant Biotechnology 117:361-371..

Rutherford RS, Snyman SJ and Watt MP (2014). In vitro studies on somaclonal variation and induced mutagenesis: progress and prospects in sugarcane (Saccharum spp.) – a review. The Journal of Horticultural Science and Biotechnology 89:1-16.

Munsamy A, Rutherford RS, Snyman SJ and Watt MP (2013). 5-Azacydiine as a tool to induce somaclonal variants with useful traits in sugarcane (Saccharum spp.). Plant Biotechnology Reports 7:489-502.

Mahlanza T, Snyman SJ, Rutherford RS and Watt MP (2013). In vitro generation of somaclonal variant plants of sugarcane for tolerance to Fusarium sacchari. Plant Cell Reports 32:249-262.

Meyer GM and Snyman SJ (2013). Progress in research on genetically modified sugarcane in South Africa and associated regulatory requirements. Acta Horticulturae 974:43-50.

Snyman SJ, van Antwerpen, Ramgareeb S and McFarlane SA (2012). Sugarcane pathogens: detection and elimination through in vitro culture. Functional Plant Science and Biotechnology 6: 12-18.

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

Snyman SJ, Meyer GM, Koch AC, Banasiak M and Watt MP (2011) Applications of in vitro culture systems for commercial sugarcane production and improvement. In Vitro Cellular and Developmental Biology – Plant 47:234-249. DOI 10.1007/s11627-011-9354-7I.

Snyman SJ, Nkwanyana PD and Watt MP (2011) Alleviation of hyperhydricity of sugarcane plantlets produced in RITA vessels and genotype and phenotypic characterisation of acclimated plants. South African Journal of Botany 77:685-692.

Ramgareeb S, Snyman SJ, van Antwerpen T and Rutherford RS (2010) Elimination of virus and rapid propagation of disease-free sugarcane (Saccharum spp. cultivar NCo376) using apical meristem culture. Plant Cell Tissue and Organ Culture 96:263-271. DOI 10.1007/s11240-009-9634-7.

Watt MP, Banasiak M, Reddy D, Albertse E and Snyman SJ (2009) In vitro minimal growth storage of Saccharum spp. hybrid (genotype 88H0019) at two stage of direct somatic embryogenic regeneration. Plant Cell Tissue and Organ Culture 96:263-271. DOI 10.1007/s11240-008-9483-9.

Brumbley SM, Snyman SJ, Gnanasambandam A, Joyce P, Hermann SR, da Silva JAG, McQualter RB, Wang M-L, Egan B, Patterson AH, Albert HH and Moore PH (2008) Sugarcane. In: A Compendium of Transgenic Crop Plants. Volume 7: Sugar, Tuber and Fiber Crops. Eds: C Kole and TC Hall. Blackwell Publishing, Oxford, UK, pp 1-58. ISBN: 978-1-405-16710-9.

Snyman SJ, Meyer GM, Richards JM, Haricharan N, Ramgareeb S and Huckett BI (2006) Refining the application of direct embryogenesis in sugarcane: effect of the developmental phase of leaf disc explants and the timing of DNA transfer on transformation efficiency. Plant Cell Reports 25:1016-1023.

Snyman SJ (2004) Transformation of sugarcane. In: Transgenic Crops of the World – Essential protocols. Ed: IS Curtis. Kluwer Academic Publishers. pp 103-114.

Leibbrandt NB and Snyman SJ (2003) Stability of gene expression and agronomic performance of a transgenic herbicide-resistant sugarcane line in South Africa. Crop Science 43:671-677.

Qualifications

BSc Hons (Witwatersrand), MSc (Natal), PhD (Stellenbosch).

Robyn Jacob

Assistant Biotechnologist

Details

Assistant Biotechnologist

Tel: 031 508 7400 (Switchboard)
Tel: 031 508 7442 (Direct)
Email: robyn.jacob@sugar.org.za

Role & Overall Purpose

To act as a flexible specialist assistant supporting the research activities of a number of groups in the Variety Improvement Programme by providing high quality technical expertise in molecular biology and bioinformatics. Support is targeted at research related to gene expression analysis and genomics with a strong focus on Bioinformatics.

Expertise
  • Specialist Molecular Techniques: PCR, qPCR, molecular cloning, Gene expression analysis, DNA sequencing.
  • Bioinformatics: analysis of NGS data, genome assembly and annotation, RNA-seq.
Research Interests
  • Development of methodologies and pipelines for RNA-seq data analysis in sugarcane.
  • Sugarcane genome assembly using the BAC-by-BAC approach.
  • Identification of novel tissue specific promoters.
Key Publications

RM Jacob, BAM Potier and D Lloyd Evans (2016). Towards a reference sugarcane transcriptome: Increasing ESTs to full-length transcripts using available genomic resources. SA Genetics Society and SA Society for Bioinformatics Joint Congress, 20 – 23 September 2016, Durban, South Africa (Poster).

BAM Potier, Jacob RM and Lloyd Evans D (2015). Integrating transcriptomics and expression analysis: the SASRI approach. ISSCT Joint 11th Germplasm and Breeding and 8th Molecular Biology Workshop, 1-5 June 2015, Saint-Gilles, Reunion Island.

RM Jacob, DL Sweby and A Brass (2014). Analysis of subtracted cDNA libraries: the regulation of photosynthesis through sugar signalling in sugarcane. SA Genetics Society and SA Society for Bioinformatics Joint Congress, 23 -26 September 2014, Pretoria, South Africa (Poster).

Potier BAM, Makome SL and Jacob RM (2012). Leaf and Root-Specific Sorghum Promoters Whose Transcripts Are Also Tissue-Specific in Maize and Sugarcane. Plant and Animal Genome Conference XX, 14-18 January 2012, San Diego, USA.

Qualifications
  • BSc Hons (UKZN) Genetics and Biochemistry.
  • MSc (University of Manchester) Bioinformatics.

Gwethlyn Meyer

Assistant Biotechnologist

Details

Assistant Biotechnologist

Tel: 031 508 7400 (Switchboard)
Tel: 031 508 7450 (Direct)
Email: gwethlyn.meyer@sugar.org.za

Role & Overall Purpose

Contribute to projects dealing with in vitro culture of sugarcane, precision breeding and molecular analysis of transgenic plants.

Expertise
  • Tissue culture of sugarcane.
  • Precision breeding using microprojectile bombardment.
  • DNA analysis: PCR, Southern blot analysis.
  • Protein detection: Western blots.Tissue culture of sugarcane.
  • Precision breeding using microprojectile bombardment.
  • DNA analysis: PCR, Southern blot analysis.
  • Protein detection: Western blots.
Research Interests
  • Direct and indirect morphogenesis of sugarcane in vitro, in semi-solid media and temporary immersion RITA® bioreactors.
  • Acclimatisation of tissue culture-derived plantlets.
  • Production and analysis of transgenic sugarcane plants.
Key Outcomes
  • Involvement in scaling up production of NovaCane® plants for use in regional seedcane schemes.
  • Use of novel explant source, leaf roll discs containing floral initials, as recipient tissue for DNA delivery.
Key Publications

Snyman SJ, Meyer GM, Richards JM, Haricharan N, Ramgareeb S and Huckett BI (2006) Refining the application of direct embryogenesis in sugarcane: effect of the developmental phase of leaf disc explants and the timing of DNA transfer on transformation efficiency. Plant Cell Reports 25:1016-1023.

Qualifications

MSc (Natal).

Marzena Garaszczuk-Banasiak

Assistant Biotechnologist

Details

Assistant Biotechnologist

Tel: 031 508 7400 (Switchboard)
Tel: 031 508 7418 (Direct)
Email: marzena.banasiak@sugar.org.za

Role & Overall Purpose

Contribute technical expertise to projects dealing with in vitro culture and precision breeding of sugarcane.

Expertise
  • Tissue culture of sugarcane and eucalyptus.
  • RITA® bioreactor system.
Research Interests
  • Minimal growth of sugarcane in vitro.
  • Direct and indirect morphogenesis of sugarcane in vitro, in semi-solid media and temporary immersion RITA® bioreactors.
  • Rooting and acclimatisation of tissue culture-derived plantlets.
Key Outcomes

Involvement in scaling up production of NovaCane® plants for use in regional seedcane schemes.

Key Publications

Watt, M.P., Banasiak, M., Nicholson, T. and McAlister, B. (2006). Strategies for the selection of uncontaminated Eucalyptus explants for shoot multiplication in a temporary immersion system (RITA®) in a commercial laboratory. South African Forestry Journal 206:13-21.

Qualifications

MSc (University of Wroclaw, Poland).

Ewald Albertse

Assistant Biotechnologist

Details

Assistant Biotechnologist

Tel: 031 508 7400 (Switchboard)
Tel: 031 508 7425 (Direct)
Email: ewald.albertse@sugar.org.za

Role & Overall Purpose

To conduct team-based research contributing to the production of improved sugarcane varieties, primarily through:

  • The analysis and mapping of the sugarcane genome using Microsatellite and AFLP based markers;
  • Participating, both as team member and principal investigator, in projects involving physiological and molecular approaches to sugarcane improvement.
Expertise
  • Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.
  • Transgene Analysis: Northern and Southern blotting, whole plant Radiolabelling.
  • Cloning.
  • Separation techniques: HPLC and TLC.
  • Enzyme Assays and Enzyme Kinetics.
Research Interests
  • Source-sink relationships in sugarcane.
  • Carbon partitioning in the sugarcane culm.
  • Carbohydrate metabolism during sucrose accumulation in the sugarcane stalk.
  • DNA fingerprinting for identification purposes.
  • AFLP Molecular markers.
Key Outcomes

Linkage disequilibrium mapping of commercial sugarcane germplasm for application in breeding programs.

Key Publications

Albertse, EH., Edwards, TJ., Butterfield, MK. Poster: Microsatellite fingerprinting as a quality control tool in sugarcane breeding and genetic marker research. SAAB, 18 – 22 January 2004.

Butterfield, MK., Richards, JM., Albertse EH. Progress and Prospects for Molecular Breeding in the South African Sugarcane Variety Improvement Programme. SASTA, 27 – 30 July 2004.

Qualifications

MSc (Free Sate).

Hlobisile Khanyi

Assistant Biotechnologist

Details

Assistant Biotechnologist

Tel: 031 508 7400 (Switchboard)
Tel: 031 508 7425 (Direct)
Email: hlobisile.khanyi@sugar.org.za

Role & Overall Purpose

Assistant Research Officer.

Qualifications

MSc (Environmental Science).

Natalie Keeping

Assistant Biotechnologist

Details

Assistant Biotechnologist

Tel: 031 508 7400 (Switchboard)
Tel: 031 508 7425 (Direct)
Email: natalie.keeping@sugar.org.za

Role & Overall Purpose

Assistant Research Officer.

Expertise

Tissue culture / plant micropropagation, molecular biology and glasshouse maintenance.

Qualifications

Qualification: B.Tech (Biotechnology)

Science Mentorship

POST-GRADUATE PROGRAMME

In 1925, leaders of the SA sugar industry were prompted to established their own Experiment Station. The main reason for doing so was the need to introduce and select more productive and disease resistant varieties for the industry. At the time, the sugarcane disease, mosaic, posed a serious threat to the industry, as many promising varieties under test proved to be susceptible to the disease.

Dr WE Cross, Director of the Tucuman Research Station in Argentina, advised the SA industry not to rely on the inadequate number of government employed agricultural scientists working on several different crops, but to employ its own scientists in different disciplines to concentrate exclusively on sugarcane.

Degree/Diploma Programme

SASRI runs an internship programme for candidates with a Diploma or a Degree in the biological and agricultural sciences, with a specific focus on optimising crop growth.

Initially, participants are offered a one year contract, which may be extended if the project is extended, provided there is funding available and the intern performs well. There are opportunities for further studies for students who excel and contribute significantly. After a two-year internship, students may be considered for our Post-Graduate Student Programme.

We normally look for applicants in the following disciplines: Biological Sciences, Microbiology, Biotechnology, Pathology, Entomology, Analytical Chemistry, Geographic Information Systems, Computer Science and Safety & Environmental Health.

Please visit our online application portal or our mobi application portal.

Degree-Diploma-programme

R&D PARTNERSHIPS AND COLLABORATIONS

SASRI seeks out new, and fosters established, partnerships to enhance research and development capacity to the benefit of the industry.

The quality of SASRI’s research is evident through its qualified and experienced staff, many of whom serve on committees of international scientific organisations, and as honorary members of various academic institutions.

SASRI currently maintains formal R&D partnerships or collaborations with:

RD Partnerships and Collaborations