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14 May 2019 | Story Thabo Kessah | Photo Tsepo Moeketsi
Prof Ashafa
Prof Ashafa’s research documents plants used by the Basotho in the management of different ailments.

The Phytomedicine and Phytopharmacology Research Programme (PPRP) in the Department of Plant Sciences on the Qwaqwa Campus researches the biological effects of medicinal plants used in the folkloric medicine of the Eastern Free State, particularly to explore the values and contribution of indigenous knowledge systems (IKS) towards broader scientific research. This is according to the programme’s principal investigator and researcher, NRF C2-rated researcher, Professor Anofi Ashafa. 

 “Our research is mainly aimed at documenting plants used by the Basotho in the management of different ailments and to further discover, isolate, and purify active phytoconstituents that are responsible for disease curation or amelioration, thereby assisting in the global promotion of accessible and affordable medication in developing countries,” said Prof Ashafa. 

Since 2012, the PPRP has worked extensively on Basotho medicinal plants (BMP) used as antimicrobials, antioxidants, antidiabetics, antitubercular, anticancer, anthelmintic, and antidiarrheal agents, starting from biological activities up to the  evaluation of the toxicity of these plants for the kidney, liver, and heart functions in order to establish safe dosage parameters. These activities have led to the discovery of four potent antidiabetic biomolecules that are awaiting the processes of patency and commercialisation. Additional outputs include 104 published peer-reviewed articles , 7 postdoctoral fellows, 6 PhDs, 9 master’s, and 16 honours graduates. 

“Our research informs teaching and the development of expertise in ethnobotany, 
phytomedicine, and phytopharmacology in order to contribute to the National Development Plan (NDP) through human capacity development, skills, and knowledge transfer.

The group is also investigating some medicinal plants on the endangered red list of the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), through micropropagation and field trials as well as proposing conservation strategies to preserve these valuable species.

The PPRP consists of postdoctoral fellows, PhD, master’s, and honours students and research is done in collaboration with several local and international universities as well as the Agricultural Research Council of South Africa. 


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Prof. Johan Grobbelaar part of history
2010-09-23

Prof. Johan Grobbelaar from the Department of Plant Sciences at the recent 31st Congress of the International Limnological Society (SIL), which was held in Cape Town.
Photo: Supplied

The 31st Congress of the International Limnological Society (SIL) was recently held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC).

Prof. Johan Grobbelaar from the Department of Plant Sciences at the University of the Free State (UFS), who is also the chairperson of the local organising committee (LOC), worked hard for six years to secure the bid to host the congress in South Africa. The LOC consisted of Prof. Grobbelaar, Prof. Brian Allanson, Prof. Jenny Day, Dr Carin van Ginkel and Dr Mike Silberbauer.

SIL was founded in 1922 to further the study and understanding of all aspects of limnology, the science of inland aquatic ecosystems and their management.

Congresses are held every three years and this was the first time that SIL met on the African continent.

Almost 400 delegates from 42 countries attended this congress where the state of the science of limnology was presented with two keynote speakers, six plenary lectures, 230 oral and 76 poster presentations, mostly running in five parallel sessions. Exhibitions displayed some of South Africa’s role players as well as the latest equipment from abroad. Delegates could also join pre- and post-congress excursions and the new SIL journal, Inland Waters, was launched at the congress.

Many of the presentations dealt with water as a limited resource, pollution problems and the impact of climate change. The congress resolved that SIL would play a more prominent role in creating awareness of problems impacting on inland waters and also afforded solutions. The 32nd SIL congress will be held in Budapest, Hungary in 2013.
 

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