Sclerotinia sclerotiorum is a prolific fungal plant pathogen, with multiple host crops of agricultural and economic importance.
South African host crops of importance include soybean, sunflower and canola which make significant contributions to the South African economy.
The initial intention of this forum was to create a platform for young researchers to assist one another and share their experiences with Sclerotinia research in South Africa. However, there was significant interest from beyond the academic arena and more researchers than expected responded, thus the South African Sclerotinia Research Network (SASRN) was born, where researchers could enter into a dialogue regarding Sclerotinia in South Africa. In light of the significant interest in the SASRN, we had our inaugural meeting on the 7th of September 2017, in Pretoria. Attendees included; Grain SA, University of the Free State (UFS), University of Pretoria (UP), Western Cape Department of Agriculture, Philagro SA and Cengen. In 2018, the research projects to investigate solutions for Sclerotinia diseases of soybean and sunflower commenced
Producer-focused research is pivotal for the network and will be supported through collaborations established by the network.
These collaborations promote communication between the parties involved, which prevents duplication and allows researchers to inform the industry directly of findings, and vice versa.
In addition, the network is a platform where industry and academia can listen to the needs of producers to actively resolve issues through applied and directed research questions.
The established community of practice will drive the communication between producers and network members