Nov 14, 2019
Gerhard (Gerry) Pietersen is a plant virologist with an interest in solving problems in South African agriculture related to plant viruses.
In this interview Gerry discusses the severe plant health and economic impacts seen in South Africa from Grapevine leafroll disease, the importance of regional buy in to establish a control program including a very successful collaboration of 50 adjoining farms in New Zealand, and new techniques to detect the virus including loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) and grafting sensitive red cultivars on white cultivars to use the shoot as an indicator.
Gerhard joined the Agricultural Research Council- Plant Protection Research Institute (PPRI), Pretoria in December, 1980 after obtaining his BSc. in Botany and Microbiology from the University of the Witwatersrand. He obtained an MSc-Microbiology at the University of Pretoria in 1984, and completed his PhD. at WITS in 1989. He spent eighteen months at Oregon State University, USA.
His current research portfolio involves; 1) control of grapevine leafroll disease caused in South Africa by grapevine leafroll associated virus type 3 (GLRaV-3) using an integrated research strategy, 2) doing research on viruses of maize as a means of pre-empting the possible incursion of maize chlorotic mottle virus into South Africa, and 3) working on Liberibacters potentially associated with citrus greening or huanglongbing diseases.
Between 2004 and 2009 he was employed by Citrus Research International (CRI) as Virologist and Program Manager, while seconded to the Department of Microbiology and Plant Pathology at University of Pretoria (UP). In 2009 he returned to the employ of Plant Protection Research Institute, while remaining seconded to UP. Gerhard has worked on viruses of many other crops during his career and has authored or co-authored 80 peer reviewed articles.
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