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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. 


News Archive

Inaugural lecture focuses on Plant Pathology
2005-08-16

Prof Neal Mc Laren, from the University of the Free State’s (UFS) Department of Plant Pathology, will deliver his inaugural lecture on Wednesday 17 August 2005 at 19:00 in the CR Swart Auditorium on campus.

The topic of the lecture is Beyond the pathogen:  revisited”.

Prof Mc Laren obtained his B Sc, B Sc (Hons) and M Sc (Agric) at the University of Natal and    Ph D (Plant Pathology) from the University of Pretoria.  In 1977 he was appointed as a research technician at the former Department of Agricultural Technical Services, was promoted to professional officer in 1983 and in 1995 to specialist scientist at the Agricultural Research Council.  In 2003 he was appointed as Associate Professor Extraordinary in the Department of Plant Sciences at the UFS and in 2005 as a full-time Professor of Plant Pathology. 

Prof Mc Laren has published 32 papers in accredited 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 has been an invited/keynote speaker on a number of occasions.  He has published 26 popular articles, co-supervised several post-graduate students and been an examiner of a number of dissertations/theses.   He has acted as referee for numerous journal articles and was associate editor for African Plant Protection. In 1998 he received the ARC-President’s Award and in 1999, an award from the Sorghum Producers Organisation of the USA for outstanding research.

Prof Mc Laren’s principle area of interest has been 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.  

For any enquiries, please contact Ms Joan Nel at (051) 401-9301.

Media release
Issued by:  Lacea Loader
   Media Representative
   Tel:  (051) 401-2584
   Cell:  083 645 2454
   E-mail:  loaderl.stg@mail.uovs.ac.za

16 August 2005
 

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