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Plant researcher receives prestigious Grain SA award
2016-10-21

Description: Plant researcher receives prestigious Grain SA award Tags: Plant researcher receives prestigious Grain SA award

Prof Zakkie Pretorius from the UFS Department
of Plant Sciences with Andries Theron,
vice-chairman of Grain SA. Theron presented
the award to Prof Pretorius at Grain SA’s a
nnual gala event, which was held in Midrand
this year.
Photo (read more): Supplied
Photo (spotlight): Charl Devenish

A researcher in the Department of Plant Sciences at the University of the Free State (UFS), Prof Zakkie Pretorius, received the prestigious Grain Producer of the Year Inspiration Award during the annual gala event of Grain SA. Grain SA provides strategic commodity support and services to South African grain producers to assist in the sustainability of the sector.

This award is presented to individuals or organisations in appreciation of excellent contributions to the grain industry. These individuals have also achieved extraordinary results in their respective fields.

Research in the interest of food security
Prof Pretorius has been involved in research on plant diseases and food crops for the past 38 years. His research focus, rust diseases in crops, is especially important for food security.  

According to Prof Pretorius, who collaborates with an extensive network of specialist colleagues, his research covers a variety of topics including rust race identification, the discovery of new resistance genes, characterisation of resistance expression in plants, and the mapping of genes. His focus is not only on wheat, but he also researches rust diseases in oats, barley, maize, dry beans, lentils, sunflowers, and soybeans.

Breeding of rust-resistant varieties gains scientific basis
Locally, he has been contracted for several years by the Winter Grain Trust to annually evaluate commercial wheat cultivars and elite germplasm. This information is regularly passed on to the relevant seed companies and breeders, and is also included in the production guidelines of the Agricultural Research Council for disease risk assessment. His research places the breeding and selection of rust-resistant varieties on a solid scientific foundation. A living collection of rust fungus cultures and a large germplasm collection are maintained at the UFS under his supervision.

 

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