Logo: Spiral nematode encircling African continent
Home
About Us
News
Resources
Symposia

Tribute to Dr. Esther van den Berg

Esther van den Berg is a fellow of the NSSA and is also one of the founding members of the society and was one of that group that attended the first symposium at Nelspruit in 1973. She obtained the first Ph.D. in Nematology in South Africa.

Read more........

 


Nematology at the University of Stellenbosch

At the Department Conservation Ecology and Entomology of the University of Stellenbosch a third year introductory undergraduate semester course in Nematology is presented, which includes plant and insect nematodes.

Read more.......

 


Obituary - Kent Kleynhans

Dr. Kent Kleynhans was known to all as a good-natured perfectionist. He will be remembered for his interest in nature, the universe, everything around him, his research contributions and the species named after him but, also for just being a friend to all of us, who have known and worked with him for many years.

Read more.......

 


Home
About Us
Contact Us
26 April, 2010

Tribute to Dr. Esther van den Berg

Esther van den Berg was born in Ermelo on 18 November 1941. Her father worked for the Department of Labour and they moved around quite a lot. Therefore before matriculating from the Hoërskool Langenhoven in Pretoria in 1959 she was enrolled in seven different schools. This is probably when she got bitten by that travel bug, but more about that later. Dr Esther wanted to become a pharmacist but one month into her practical year (way back then you had to do your practical year before starting your degree), the powers that be told her that they do not need her any more – bad luck to them. After an aptitude test at the University of Pretoria where they told her that she would be a perfect entomologist she enrolled for a B.Sc., which she obtained in 1962. In March 1963 while working towards a M.Sc. on the taxonomy of a beetle she started working at the Department of Entomology of the University of Pretoria, which was then still part of the Department of Agricultural Technical Services. In 1968 because with a M.Sc. she was over qualified for the post at Tukkies, she moved to the Transvaal Region of the Department of Agricultural Technical Services. After a few months of intense boredom she went to ask for help from Dr Lenie Meyer. Dr Meyer knew that Dr Johan Furstenberg was leaving the Nematology Section to join the University of Port Elizabeth and she went to speak to Prof Juan Heyns. Apparently Prof Heyns's first reaction was that he does not want a woman, because they just want to get married and then they leave and then he has to start training somebody else. Luckily for us he changed his mind. A few years back when we were celebrating Dr Esther's sixtieth birthday she asked Prof Heyns, to his delight, if she may now get married. So in November 1968 Dr Esther joined the Nematology Section of PPRI and with that the pioneering taxonomic team of Heyns, Kleynhans and Van den Berg was formed. Prof Heyns started Dr Esther working on the genus Hoplolaimus and then the rest of the family Hoplolaimidae and also the Pratylenchidae. In 1974 Dr Esther obtained the first Ph.D. in Nematology in South Africa from the University of Johannesburg (then the Rand Afrikaans University). Through the years she also specialized in the taxonomy of the Criconematidae and the Tylenchulidae. Dr Esther published a vast number of peer reviewed papers and the last count stands at 147. Dr Esther officially retired at the end of 2006 but she still comes in three times a week to continue with the biosystematics of "her worms" and helps us in the identification of all "her" species.

 

Esther van den Berg is a fellow of the NSSA and is also one of the founding members of the society and was one of that group that attended the first symposium at Nelspruit in 1973. She, with her co-authors of the book "Plant nematodes in South Africa," was awarded the Rhone-Poulenc award for achievement in Nematology in 1997.

But let us get back to that travel bug business. Dr Esther have what we in Afrikaans call "jukkende voete" that means that she have this intense desire to see what is around the next corner and to see what all the unknown places look like. During the last decade or four Dr Esther travelled far and wide, from Alaska to Zambia and everywhere in between. This year she will visit China – for the second time! One of her other passion besides travelling of which the guinea fowl, lapwings, weavers, barbets, sparrows and even the mynahs at Rietondale can be witnesses is her love for animals, especially the feathered variety. Over the years we all got to know a few highly spoiled, but much loved budgie "children".

 

A long time ago we have decided that it is not only "mad dogs and Englishmen that go out in the midday sun", but that it is mad dogs, Englishmen and nematologists" To that we now can add that it is not only that little battery bunny that keeps on going and going and going, but also some nematologists (taxonomists??).

Back to top


 

At the Department Conservation Ecology and Entomology a third year introductory undergraduate semester course in Nematology is presented, which includes plant and insect nematodes. Emphasis is place on the morphological characteristics of diagnostic value, which also forms the basis of the taxonomic classification of nematodes. General reproduction and biology, control of plant parasitic nematodes and the control of insects with the use of entomopathogenic nematodes are covered. Focus is placed on the biology, identification and control of plant parasitic genera of economic importance to agriculture. The lectures are combined with 14 practical session in which extraction techniques, symptoms and live specimens of nematodes are being studied by stereo and light microscopy. At the end of the module the student is familiar with the theoretical, as well as practical knowledge of plant parasitic nematodes and the biological control of insects using nematodes. Students attending the undergraduate semester course in Nematology are from Plant pathology, Viticulture, Horticulture and Soil Sciences.

Research Projects
The following research projects are currently running at the University of Stellenbosch.
1. Use of entomopathogenic nematodes (EPNs) for the control of codling moth (Cydia pomonella) in fruit bins.
2. Biological control of codling moth (Cydia pomonella) with EPNs in laboratory and field trails.
3. An investigation into the control of the banded fruit weevil (Phlyctinus callosus) by using EPNs.
4. Control of false codling moth (Thaumatotibia leucotreta) using EPNs.
5. Biological control of mealy bugs (Pseudococcus viburni) with EPNs.

Contact info

Dr. Antoinette P. Malan
Department of Conservation Ecology and Entomology
Faculty of AgriSciences, Stellenbosch University
Private Bag X1, Matieland, 7602
South Africa
Tel: +27 21 808 2821
Cell: 072 3400843
Fax: + 27 21 808 3546
apm@sun.ac.za
www.sun.ac.za/consent

Back to top


Obituary

Kent Peter Noël Kleynhans
10.10.1935 – 31.5.2006

Kent Kleynhans was born in Boksburg on 10 October 1935. He matriculated from the Helpmekaar Boy’s High School in Johannesburg in 1953. Besides his scholastic achievements, he was also a keen rugby player. He finished his military training at the Air Force Gymnasium, where he also qualified as a pilot. In 1954 he started his working career at the Department of Public Works and Land Affairs. A few years later he decided to go underground (legally) and found himself surrounded by gold as an official at a gold mine in Randfontein. Seeing that he could not stand narrow corridors he left the riches behind and became self-employed by opening a shoe repair shop in Pretoria.

His abiding interest in biology eventually led to a formal study in Entomology and Zoology at the University of Pretoria and a B Sc degree in 1962. With this new piece of paper in his pocket he started researching external parasites of animals at the Veterinary Research Institute at Onderstepoort, which formed the subject for an M Sc in Entomology and Zoology at the University of Pretoria. A looming transfer away from Pretoria prompted Kent to resign and join the staff of the Medical Research Institute in Johannesburg, where he remained until 1968. Kent realised he was actually a taxonomist at heart and decided to make a change. Towards the end of 1968, while waiting for a position to be vacated at the National Collection of Insects in the Department of Agriculture, he temporarily joined the staff of the Nematology Section under Prof. Juan Heyns at the Plant Protection Research Institute. He immediately knew this was where he belonged and he literally went underground again pursuing a future in the study of the taxonomy of plant-parasitic nematodes. Kent never looked back again and at the same time Nematology in South Africa profited from his knowledge.

Kent was involved in exciting work on the golden nematode of potato (no connection with his former years in the mines although it kept him digging in soil), maize and cotton nematodes, nematodes of nurseries and quarantine nematodes. A special interest in stunt nematodes resulted in a Ph D in 1982 under Prof. Heyns, who, in the meantime had moved to a teaching post at the Rand Afrikaans University in Johannesburg. He continued his research on stunt nematodes as well as root-knot nematodes until his retirement on 31 January 1998. His interest in the difficult taxonomy of root-knot nematodes once made him say that he, the worms and the roots were all tied up in knots, but he was thoroughly enjoying himself.

In his work Kent was a perfectionist. His Ph D. thesis “Taksonomie van sekere terestriële nematode van die Ordes Tylenchida en Dorylaimida” was the first thesis without any mistakes submitted to the university. It was also the first doctoral thesis in Nematology presented in Afrikaans. Apart from the taxonomic research much effort went into the correct translation of nematological terms into Afrikaans, which was a first for South Africa. His articles were always returned by the referees who complimented him on his error-free work. He was meticulous in every aspect from the study of morphological structures on the nematodes to his excellent use of the English language. His good sense of perception of the minute structures on nematodes, as well as his ability to delve into obscure and virtually unobtainable literature, helped him to develop a compendium of the Family Tylenchorhynchidae, which was invaluable at that stage.

Kent will be remembered for his good nature and his ability to get along with everyone who passed his way. He was always willing to help anyone in any situation, collaborating with fellow scientists both within and outside the country. He was more than willing and eager to train young people in the science of Nematology and consequently was asked to assist with Nematology classes at the Pretoria Technical College for a couple of years. He will also be remembered for the good times we had on field trips, not only when things went well, but also when Murphy intervened and problems had to be solved. He was always the pillar you could rely on. His love for animals was an inspiration to all. Needless to say, Kent will be remembered for his interest in nature, the universe, everything around him, his research contributions and the species named after him but, also for just being a friend to all of us, who have known and worked with him for many years.

Esther van den Berg - ARC-Plant Protection Research Institute Pretoria

Back to top