Harvesting the fruits of a Polish collaboration

The collaboration team
The collaboration team

For the past three years, researchers from the Centre for Biological Control (CBC) and the Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology at Rhodes University have been working in collaboration with members from the University of Gdansk and Medical University of Gdansk (UGMUG) in Poland. Under a bilateral agreement between South African and Polish research agencies, the research teams have been working together to develop a novel baculovirus into an effective biological pesticide to use in South Africa. Over this duration the project has held several joint meetings, has encouraged the transfer of knowledge and skills, has participated in the preparation and presentation of many conference papers, and has published peer reviewed articles. In December 2018, three members from the Polish team travelled to South Africa to meet, discuss, and review progress made over the past three years and finalise the completion of this collaboration.

Two of the lead members from the collaboration, Dr S. Moore from the CBC and Prof. B. Szewczyk from UGMUG, travelled to Cape Town to attend a course hosted by the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB). The course, entitled “Challenges to the adoption of biopesticides in agriculture: exploring solutions" provided the team with the opportunity to meet with fellow local and international researchers and present talks on improving biological pesticides through the genetic engineering of baculoviruses.

Following the ICGEB course in Cape Town, Dr Moore and Prof Szewczyk travelled to Port Elizabeth to meet with the rest of the Polish team, namely Dr L. Rabalski and Mrs. M. Krejmer-Rabalska. Here the team met with staff at Citrus Research International (CRI) which hosts several Rhodes University’s CBC students and researchers working in the field of biological control.

Grahamstown was the last destination for the team, enabling the Polish team to meet other members of the CBC and enjoy some time on campus. This visit represents the conclusion of the three-year collaboration between South Africa and Poland. It provided a chance to finalise our expected outcomes, report on completed objectives, and discuss future opportunities which may enable the team to continue working together on new research projects.

In review, this collaboration saw more than a dozen local and international conference presentations by both students and staff, several peer reviewed publications, the completion of two PhD degrees, and the filing of patents for commercial biopesticide development.

Source:  Michael Jukes

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