Tracking down tree pests and diseases

February 25, 2019

Dr Trudy Paap, who first discovered the destructive PSHB beetle in South Africa, will be heading up the TPCP’s field extension services that monitor and track pests and diseases that pose a threat to trees across the country.

Dr Trudy Paap has been appointed to manage the field extension services of the Tree Protection Co-operative programme (TPCP), as well as to support the development of a national pest and disease monitoring and management system that links TPCP, ICFR, Industry and Government resources.

Dr Paap has extensive experience in detection, diagnostics, monitoring and management of pests and diseases in Australia and South Africa. This includes working with invasive pests and pathogens in natural ecosystems, urban, horticultural and plantation environments.

Prior to joining the TPCP she held a SANBI postdoctoral position which involved developing a sentinel monitoring system for pests and diseases using botanical gardens as a resource. This led to the establishment of a national system and the training of Botanical Gardens staff, but also important discoveries - the Polyphagous Shot Hole Borer being the most prominent of these.

Extension services are of national importance and critical to the functioning of the TPCP. Field extension trips are set up in response to requests from industry members to investigate pest and disease outbreaks, as well as to do routine monitoring for potential tree health problems.

Trudy will also be working closely with other TPCP staff doing annual field assessment of biological control agents of eucalypt insect pests as part of the National Leptocybe Monitoring Programme.

Professor Jolanda Roux and Izette Greyling, who ran the TPCP extension services for many years, are now working for Sappi and Mondi respectively. Their specialised experience provides additional eyes and hands in the field, and the TPCP team continues to engage with both of them.
PSHB research projects

Prof. Wilhelm de Beer of FABI and Prof. Francois Roets from Stellenbosch University, visited the southern Cape recently to launch two research projects on the impact of the PSHB on native trees in the area. It was discovered last year that the beetle and its fungus infest native trees in the gardens of George and Knysna. Over the next two years, Masters students, Elmar van Rooyen ( Stellenbosch University), and Garyn Townsend, (Universities of Rhodes & Pretoria), will survey and monitor the forests around George and Knysna.

The aim is to determine the rate of spread of the PSHB beetle, which native tree species are infested, and what the impact of the beetle and its fungus will be on these native trees.

This is essential ground work that has to be done in order to fully understand the beetle and how it reproduces and spreads, so that effective management strategies can be developed.

To date, the beetle has been found on 35 native host tree species in South Africa. Although the beetle and fungus will not kill all the native tree species that it infests, there might be some species at risk of being killed and thus removed entirely from sensitive ecosystems.

For more info on the PSHB, and for a list of trees susceptible to the beetle and its fungus, visit the Fabi website



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