Prof. Bernard Slippers

Director, Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute (FABI), South Africa

I study the molecular ecology and evolution of fungal communities, fungal pathogens and insect pests of plants, especially trees, as well as their symbioses and their natural enemies. I am particularly interested in the anthropogenic impacts on the outcomes of the interactions between these organisms. These interests are explored within a context of both invasive plant pathogens and pests, and native pests or pathogens expanding their host ranges to attack trees of forestry and agricultural importance. My research combines information from systematics, biogeography, phylogenetics, population genetics, (meta-) barcoding, (-)genomics, (-)transcriptomics and chemical ecology. I work on a variety of systems, but have focused extensively on the Botryosphaeriaceae as models of latent fungal pathogens and endophytes of trees. This work extends to a focus on fungal communities in above-ground parts of trees. From and entomological perspective, I have done extensive work on the Sirex woodwasp and its various symbionts and management. This work extends to the molecular and chemical ecology, as well as the biological control, of various other pests in forestry and agriculture, including in Macadamia and Maize.