Presenter: A. Jacobs – ARC-Plant Health and Protection

Pretoria – South Africa, as a mega-diverse country, has invested significant resources in documenting its above-ground flora and fauna.

However, similar research on soil organisms, specifically soil fungi, has been fragmented and poorly integrated. The soil ecosystem plays host to some of the most important plant, human and animal fungal pathogens documented.

In the past, these have been mainly identified based on morphology. This is time consuming, and commonly leads to erroneous identifications and does not provide a platform for different research sectors to use.

A public, accessible platform for different research sectors is required to submit and compare taxonomic data of fungal isolates. Improving our understanding of soil ecosystems in South Africa is of great strategic importance since it is the basis for the vast majority of our agricultural production and essential ecosystem service for rural communities.

This small FBIP grant based project expanded the current databases of South African phytopathogenic and soil fungi with 800 isolates and 500 DNA barcodes from the unique Great Karoo biome.