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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

UFS hosts international conference on palynology - tribute to Prof Louis Scott
2014-07-23

 

Prof Louis Scott

Some of the world’s eminent palaeontologists and palynologists gathered at the University of the Free State (UFS) to attend a conference held in the honour of one of our own.

Prof Louis Scott, one of South Africa’s leading palynologists and former chairman of the Department of Plant Sciences at the UFS, recently retired. In recognition of his great contribution to promoting palynology, an international symposium was held from 7 – 11 July 2014 at the Bloemfontein Campus.

Palynology is the study of pollen grains and spores in archaeological findings.

The symposium, ‘From Past to Present – Changing Climates, Ecosystems and Environments of Arid Southern Africa. A Tribute to Louis Scott’, featured the works and findings of researchers from South Africa, USA, UK, Israel and Tanzania.

Prof Francis Thackeray from the Institute of Human Evolution at the University of the Witwatersrand delivered the keynote address. He said South Africa has a rich palaeontological heritage relating to human evolution within the late Pliocene, Pleistocene and Holocene.

Prof Thackeray said that the “identification and quantification of changes in climate and habitat are essential for assessing evolutionary processes associated with hominine species in the genera Australopithecus, Paranthropus and Homo. Attempts have been made to quantify changes in palaeotemperature and moisture using multivariate analysis of pollen spectra from sites such as Wonderkrater.”

Prof Thackeray dedicated his address to Prof Scott.

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