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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

Marieka Gryzenhout receives NRF-NSTF Award
2013-07-03

 

Dr Gryzenhout
Photo: Sonia Small
03 July 2013

“The award serves to prove that my type of research is truly relevant.” These are the words of Dr Marieka Gryzenhout of the Department of Plant Sciences at the UFS, who received the T W Kambule NRF-NSTF Award as emerging researcher in June 2013.

The award from the National Research Foundation (NRF) and the National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF) gives recognition to her outstanding contribution to science, engineering, technology and innovation (SETI) in the country.

Dr Gryzenhout is also part of the Vice-Chancellor’s Prestige Scholar Programme.

“It was an honour to be chosen as a finalist, but to even win it? Die award indicates the importance of fungi and plant pathogens, and their presence in various biological systems and that it is important to identify and categorise significant plant pathogens and fungi to enable easier access for users of these names.”

Dr Gryzenhout was in the US on the evening of the awards ceremony, attending a workshop on the identification and research of another fungus group, Fusarium. “This group is extremely important, since it includes important plant pathogens, producers of toxins in food and feed, as well as animal and human pathogens, and it also plays important ecological roles.”

She attended the Kansas State University in Kansas and paid a visit to the Bacterial Foodborne Pathogens and Mycology Unit of the US Department of Agriculture in Illinois.

Dr Gryzenhout is also a finalist in the Women in Science Awards hosted by the Department of Science and Technology. The winner will be announced in August 2013. Prof Maryke Labuschagne and Rose Lekhooa are also nominees.

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