Dr Lisa Rothmann
Senior Lecturer
Plant Sciences
Plant Sciences
IB 63
Biology Building 300

Short CV

I started working in the Plant Pathology division of the Plant Science Department, at the University of the Free State (UFS),Bloemfontein, in South Africa, in April 2021. I completed my PhD under the supervision of Professor Neal McLaren (UFS, now retired) and Professor Emerson Del PonteUniversidade Federal de Viçosa (UFV), in Brazil. I focused on soybean and sunflower stem and head rot, caused by Sclerotinia sclerotiorum. In delivered a talk at the Southern African Society for Plant Pathology in January 2021 which summarised some of the work as well as the methods which I deployed, you can view it here, `The role of reproducible research tools in quantifying a decade-long survey of Sclerotinia disease prevalence, in South Africa.`. I enjoy doing the data science components of my research and getting out into the fresh air to conduct our field trials. My MSc. Agric. was also conducted at the UFS, and was entitled, "Modelling the colonisation of sorghum grain by the Fusarium graminearum species complex and concomitant mycotoxin production."

My responsibilities as an academic staff member include, teaching an Introductory Plant Pathology course (PPLG2624) as well as an final year/honours course in an Introduction to Plant Disease Epidemiology (PPLG4834). Additionally, I teach a component of the AGRI1664 course on the basics of plant disease and crop protection. Outside of my academic work, I am also the Blog and Social Media Editor for Open Plant Pathology. I am passionate about Open Science and Reproducible Research. Additionally, I am an assistant feature editor (AFE) at the journal of Phytopathology, published by the American Phytopathology Society. My engaged scholarship focuses on administrating the South African Sclerotinia Research Network a virtual community of practice and a research consortium aimed at finding the most appropriate management practices for local producers to control Sclerotinia diseases. This initiative is supported by Grain SA, the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) and the Oil and Protein Seeds Development Trust (OPDT). I am an active writer of popular articles for the Dry Bean Organisation, the SA Grain Magazine as well as the Oilseed Focus Magazine. I have also contributed a few articles to the Farmer`s Weekly and the Landbou Weekblad. 

I am the Principle Investigator in my division for Plant Disease Epidemiology. Our research group focuses on Sclerotinia diseases of oil- and protein seed crops, sorghum foliar and grain diseases and diseases caused by Fusarium spp. on summer grain crops. I have taught myself how to use R and R-studio, under the guidance of my co-supervisor and lab mates at the UFV. I am encouraging my post-graduates to do the same. I provide them with guidance but promote self-learning as this is a heuristic process. I am also passionate about teaching and learning and have successfully completed the CREST Online Training Course for Supervisors of Doctoral Candidates at African Universities, where my capstone assignment was titled, "“Through the looking glass”: a novice doctoral supervisor reflects on entering academic scholarship.", for which I received distinction of 83%.  

We are excited to welcome Neo Hlongwane, who will be starting his MSc, to our research team for 2022, with research titled, "Identifying and assessing soybean seedborne diseases, towards improving seed health through reducing prevalent fungal pathogens". The research is supported by the Central Research Funds of the UFS. Additionally, we look forward to Thabiso Masisi continuing with his PhD under my supervision, along with co-supervision from Dr Mariette Jackson and Dr Lindy Rose, from Stellenbosch University. His research will focus on sorghum diseases and producer perceptions of disease and disease management. The research is supported by the Sorghum Trust.  

Below are the projects I have been involved in and post-graduate`s I have had the privilege to supervise:

 In 2021, I supervised 4 honours students, their projects were focused on; 

  1. Zazi Mtambeka: Inhibitory effect of fungicides on in vitro mycelial growth of Fusarium spp. (with co-supervision from Dr Adre Minnaar-Ontong at Plant Breeding) 
  2. Naomi Maartens: Detection and quantification of Sclerotinia sclerotiorum in soybean seed. (with co-supervision from Mrs Marlese Meiring) 
  3. Yola Hute: Fungi associated with post-harvest pecan nuts in the Vaalharts region (co-supervised, with Dr Gert Marais as the primary supervisor)
  4. Jo Cobbold: To Bee or Not to Bee – pollinaton in African Macadamia (co-supervised, with Dr Lize Joubert as the primary supervisor); Jo and her research were exceptional and she was the top Honours research student within the Plant Science Department, winning the best honours presentation at both the University of Johannesburg Plant Science Symposium, at the end of 2021, as well as the South African Botany Association Conference at the start of 2022.

Thabiso Masisi, submitted his MSc Agric in 2021 with the title, "Assessing the effect of decortication on sorghum grain mold and concomitant mycotoxins". We worked in collaboration with Dr Mariette Jackson and had funding support from the Sorghum Trust and the NRF (UID: 117021). 

In 2018, Marlese Meiring completed and successfully passed her MSc degree with a distinction with her project titled, "Inoculation techniques and evaluation methodologies for Sclerotinia sclerotiorum head and stem rot in sunflower and soybean." Marlese has been a critical member of the Epidemiology group, leading field trials and engaging in multiple producer information days. She has continued her PhD studies with our research group and submitted in November 2021. Her doctoral research focused on "Sclerotinia sclerotiorum disease potential and management responses in soybean and sunflower". 

I am co-supervising Alec Edwards, who is under the primary supervision of Professor Wijnand Swart, his project is titled, "An integrated systems approach to manage Sclerotinia stem rot using plant associated microbes and salicylic acid".


Publications (Short List)

Area(s) of Interest

  • Epidemiology
  • Applied Plant Pathology 
  • Field work 
  • Grain sorghum 
  • Mycotoxins
  • Sclerotinia diseases of soybean and sunflower
  • Science communication and social media 
  • Reproducible research 

Courses Presented


Microbiological principles in Agriculture

Focusing on the Plant Pathology component of Microbiology (responsible for 0.25 of the course)


Principals in Plant Pathology

The disease triangle, interactions and influences, as well as introduction to disease management (responsible for 0.5 of the course and practical)


Epidemiology and control of plant diseases (teaching the entire course unit) 

Community Service

Community of Practice Co-ordinator for the South African Sclerotinia Research Network

Assistant Feature Editor at ?Phytopathology 



Elfrieda van den Berg (Marketing Manager)
T: +27 51 401 2531

Dilahlwane Mohono (Faculty Officer)
T: +27 58 718 5284

Home new

We use cookies to make interactions with our websites and services easy and meaningful, to better understand how they are used and to tailor advertising. You can read more and make your cookie choices here. By continuing to use this site you are giving us your consent to do this.