Prof Neal McLaren
Research Fellow
Plant Sciences
BL 301
Plant Sciences
IB 64
051 4013666
Biology Building 300

Short CV

Neal Wynne McLaren was born in Walvis bay (Namibia) on 26 December 1953. He matriculated at Kearsney College in 1971. He obtained a BSc (Botany and Plant Pathology) at University of Natal (Pietermarizburg) in 1976. In 1977 he was appointed as a Research Technician at the former Department of Agricultural Technical Services and in 1980 was seconded to University of Natal for the degree BSc (Hon: Plant Pathology). As a Professional Officer he graduated with a MSc (Agric: Plant Pathology) at the University of Natal in 1987 and in 1993 with a PhD: Plant Pathology from University of Pretoria. In 1995 he was promoted to Specialist Scientist in the Agricultural Research Council and as Associate Professor Extraordinary at University of the Free State in 2003. In 2005 he was appointed at the University of the Free State as Professor of Plant Pathology. Neal had published 32 papers in scientific journals or refereed proceedings which include two feature articles. He also has three book chapters to his credit. He has presented 35 local and 18 international conference papers and been an invited/keynote speaker on a number of occasions. As part of technology transfer, he has published 26 popular articles. He has co-supervised 5 post-graduate students and been examiner on a number of dissertations/theses. He has acted as referee for numerous journal articles and was associate editor for African Plant Protection.

Publications (Short List)

BANDYOPADHYAY, R., FEDERICKSON, D.E., McLAREN, N.W., ODVODY, G.N. & RYLEY, M.R. (1998). Ergot - a new disease threat to sorghum in the Americas and Australia. Plant Disease 82:356-367.

BOTHA, C., McLAREN, N.W. and SWART, W.J.  2009.  Evaluation of greenhouse inoculation techniques used to screen for Sclerotinia stem rot resistance in soybeans.  South African Journal of Plant and Soil  26: 48-50

BOTHA, C., McLAREN, N.W. and SWART, W.J.  2011.  The effect of temperature and period of high humidity on the development of Sclerotinia stem rot on soybeans in the greenhouse.  South African Journal of Plant and Soil  28:211-214.

CRAVEN, M., SMITH, K., BERNER, J., MOREY, L. & McLAREN, N.W. 2017.  Evaluation of fungicides for potential growth regulating properties on sorghum.  Crop Protection 101:43-49.

FLETT, B.C., McLAREN, N.W. & WEHNER, F.C. (2001) Incidence of Stenocarpella maydis ear rot of corn under crop rotation systems. Plant Disease 85: 92-94.

JANSE VAN RENSBURG, B., FLETT, B.C., McLAREN, N.W. and McDONALD, A.H. 2008. Variation in the identification of Fusarium spp. In maize samples due to enumerator and growth medium.  South African Journal of Plant and Soil 25:  105-110.

JANSE VAN RENSBURG, B., FLETT, B.C., McLAREN, N.W. and McDONALD, A.H. 2011.  Sampling variation in the quantification of fumonisins in maize samples. South African Journal of Plant and Soil  28: 90-96.

JANSE VAN RENSBURG, B., McLAREN, N.W., Viljoen, A and FLETT, B.C. 2011.  Aflatoxin and fumonisin on sorghum grain from commercial production areas of South Africa.  South African Journal of Plant and Soil  28: 236-238.

JANSE VAN RENSBURG, B. McLAREN, N.W.,  FLETT, B.C. AND SCHOEMAN, A.  2015.Fumonisin producing Fusarium spp. and fumonisin contamination in commercial South African Maize  European Journal of Plant Pathology  141:  491-504.

JANSE VAN RENSBURG, B, Mc LAREN N.W., SCHOEMAN, A. and FLETT, B.C.  2016.  The effects of cultivar and prophylactic fungicide spray for leaf diseases on colonisation of maize ears by fumonisin producing Fusarium spp. and fumonisin synthesis in South AfricaCrop Protection 79: 56-63

McLAREN, N.W. (2002) Evaluation of sorghum hybrids for resistance to the root rot complex. S. Afr. J Plant Soil 19: 37-42.

McLAREN, N.W. (2003) Efficacy of fungicides in the control of ergot in hybrid seed production, caused by Claviceps africana. S. Afr. J. Plant Soil 20: 154-156.

McLAREN, N.W. (2004) Effect of soil nutrient status on severity of seedling diseases and root rot of sorghum (Sorghum bicolor). S. Afr. J. Plant Soil 21: 263-265.

McLAREN, N.W.  2008.  Reaction of South African soybean cultivars to rust caused by Phakopsora pachyrhizi.  South African  Journal  of  Plant and  Soil 25: 49-54.

McLAREN, N.W. and CRAVEN, M. 2008.   Evaluation of soybean cultivars for resistance to sclerotinia stalk rot in South Africa.  Crop Protection  27:131-135.

MPOFU L.T and McLAREN, N.W. 2014. Ergosterol concentration and variability in genotype-by-pathogen interaction for grain mold resistance in Sorghum.  Planta 240:239–250.

MUEDI, H.H. FOURIE, D. and McLAREN, N.W. 2011.  Characterisation of bacterial brown spot pathogen collected from dry bean production areas of South Africa.  African Crop Science Journal 19: 357-367

MUEDI, H.T.H., McLAREN, N.W. and FOURIE, D. 2015. Distribution and severity of bacterial brown spot on dry beans in South Africa: an update.  South African Journal of Science 111: 52-57.

MUEDI, H.T.H., McLAREN, N.W. and FOURIE, D.  2015. Reaction of selected common bean germplasm accessions to bacterial brown spot in South Africa. Crop Protection 77:87-93.

PRETORIUS, Z.A., LAN, C.X., PRINS, R., KNIGHT, V. N., McLAREN, N.W., SINGH, R.P.,  BENDER, C.M. and KLOPPERS, F.J. 2017.   Remote sensing of wheat stripe rust infection detects known resistance loci in two mapping populations.  Precision Agriculture 18:411-428. 

REED,J.D., TUINSTRA, M.R. McLAREN, N.W., KOFOID, K.D. OCHANDA, N.W. & CLAFLIN, L.E. (2002) Analysis of combining ability for ergot resistance in grain sorghum. Crop Sci. 42: 1818-1823.

TAESFAENDREAS, McLAREN, N.W. and SWART, W.J.  2009. The effect of grain mould fungi on sorghum malt quality and its management during malting.  South African Journal of Plant and Soil  26: 45-47.

TAESFAENDREAS, McLAREN, N.W. and SWART, W.J.  2011.  Grain mold fungi and their effect on sorghum grain quality. South African Journal of Plant and Soil  28:175-183.

TAREKEGN, G., McLAREN, N.W. and SWART, W.J. 2004. Relationship between grain development stages and sorghum cultivar susceptibility to grain mould.  African Plant Protection 10:  53-62.

TAREKEGN, G., McLAREN, N.W AND SWART W.J.  2006. Reaction of sorghum to grain mould in relation to its biochemical and morphological traits.  Pest Management Journal of Ethiopia. 10: 25-32.

TAREKEGN, G., McLAREN, N.W. and SWART, W.J. 2006.  The effect of weather on grain mould of sorghum in South Africa.  Plant Pathology 55:  238-245.

TAREKEGN, G., SWART W.J.  AND McLAREN, N.W. 2006.  Grain mould fungi associated with sorghum from Ethiopia and South Africa and their damage to grains. Ethiopian Journal of Agricultural Sciences 18 (2): 153-163.

TAREKEGN, G., McLAREN, N.W AND SWART W.J. 2006.  Relationship between ergot and grain mould development in sorghum (Sorghum bicolor (L.) MoenchSouth African Journal of Plant and Soil 23: 297-301.

Book Chapters

McLAREN, N.W, Saayman, J., Benade, J. and van der Walt, M. (2002) Evaluation of reduced sorghum seed germination. In Leslie, J.F. (Ed) 2002. Sorghum and Millets Pathology 2000. Iowa State Press, Ames, Iowa.

McLAREN, N.W. (2002) Genotype x environment effects on the response of sorghum to ergot and repercussions for diseases-screening. In Leslie, J.F. (Ed) 2002. Sorghum and Millets Pathology 2000. Iowa State Press, Ames, Iowa.

MTISI, E. & McLAREN, N.W. (2002) Diseases of sorghum and pearl millet in some Southern African countries. In Leslie, J.F. (Ed) 2002. Sorghum and Millets pathology 2000. Iowa State Press, Ames, Iowa.



  • Integrated management of sorghum diseases
  • Resistance and tolerance to rust in Soybean lines
  • Integrated management of grain molds of Sorgum
  • Disease evaluation for Sclerotinia stalk rot
  • Agroecology & biotechnology of stem rot pathogens
  • Germplasm enhancement for resistance to insects
  • Country program enhancement
  • Distribution and quantification of Fusarium sp.

Area(s) of Interest

Most interest has been in diseases of sorghum with emphasis on ergot, damping-off and seedling blights, root rots and grain molds. In addition, root rots of maize and more recently, soybean rust have received attention. He has a particular interest in quantitative epidemiology and a general philosophy which is to look beyond the pathogen to the interactions of the various components of the agro-ecosystem on disease epidemiology and to develop disease management strategies. This approach was particularly successful with sorghum ergot and he developed a weather based model to predict ergot severity and to quantify the risk of disease associated with specific flowering dates based on historic data. This model has been tested successfully internationally. No physiological resistance to ergot has been reported. He however, quantified the relationship between pollen viability and disease severity and the role of pre-flowering cold stress in reducing viability. Selection and breeding for pre-flowering cold stress tolerance has resulted in high levels of pollen mediated escape resistance which has eliminated the disease as a local production constraint. This systems/holistic approach is being applied to other diseases under consideration.

Courses Presented

PPLG2624 Introduction to Plant Pathology 

PPLG4624 Plant Disease Epidemiology



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


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

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