Professor Mark Laing


Director (ACCI)

Senior Professor







PhD (Natal)


Office Block:









ACCI Website:


Room 228

Rabie Saunders Building

Agriculture Campus



 +27 (0) 33 260 5524


Biographical sketch

I was born and schooled in Zimbabwe, and came to the University of Natal to study biological sciences in 1977. Falling in love with Plant Pathology, and conducting of research, I have been lucky enough to make my career at this university, starting as a lecturer and ending up as the Professor and Head of Department. 


Academic Profile

University of Natal: BSc 1979, BSc Honours 1980, PhD 1996.

Professional Activities 

Current president of the South African Society for Plant Pathology, having been a member for 33 years.
Member of the following societies:
  • International Society for Plant Pathology
  • American Phytopathology Society
  • South African Society for Entomologists
  • South African Society for Horticultural Science
  • International Society for Silicon in Agriculture (founder member)

Community Activities
  • PHI Board of Management
  • Frontiers Plant Studies sub-editor
  • Dante Aligieri (Pmb) Committee

Current Teaching/Courses

Plant Pathology at the Honours level; supervision or co-supervision of 6 post-docs, 16 PhD, 24 MSc and 4 Honours students.

Research Interests/Areas of Specialty

Biological control of pests, pathogens, nematodes, weeds, parasites; plant breeding of African crops; agricultural engineering inventions; forestry pathology and horticulture.

Research Projects
  • The African Centre for Crop Improvement : training over hundred PhD’s from 14 countries in Africa in plant breeding of African food security crops. Funding: AGRA
  • Biofuel crops: breeding of sweet stem sorghum and tropical sugarbeet for the production of sugar on an annual basis at sites where sugarcane will not perform. Funding: the Technology Innovation Agency
  • Biocontrol of insects: isolating viruses, bacteria and fungi that kill important insect pests of crops and animals. Funding: Plant Health Products
  • Biocontrol of nematodes and flukes of livestock: this involves isolating and screening hundreds of strains of bacteria and fungi, and plant extracts, for the control of “wireworm” and liver fluke of sheep and cattle. Funding: MilkSA
  • Biocontrol of mastitis of dairy cows: isolate, screen and produce bacteriophage is for the control of mastitis in dairy cows. Funding: MilkSA
  • Biocontrol of nematodes of crops: isolating screen hundreds of bacteria and fungi for the control of nematodes (eelworm) of crops. Funding: Plant Health Products
  • Biocontrol of Fusarium cob rot of maize: funding: SA Maize Trust
  • Biocontrol of rusts of soybeans. Funding: Protein Research Foundation
  • Biocontrol of Sclerotinia of sunflowers. Funding: Oilseeds Trust
  • Biocontrol and hot water treatment of citrus to control moulds. Funding: the Industrial Development Corporation
  • Biocontrol of avocado anthracnose. Funding: Baynesfield Estate
  • Epidemiological studies on avocado blackspot. Funding: South African Avocado Growers Association
  • Proteomic studies of black wattle for frost tolerance. Funding: ICFR
  • Management of abiotic stress in eucalypts. Funding: NCT
  • Vegetative propagation of a new timber crop, Corymbia henryii. Funding: NCT
  • Optimising the performance of a novel solar chimney technology for a seed store.
  • Optimising the performance of a novel vegetable drying technology.
  • Development of a small-scale hot water treatment system for citrus and other fruit for the control of post-harvest diseases.
  • Biological control of rust in wheat. Funding: ARC
  • Biological control of Russian wheat aphid in wheat. Funding: ARC
  • Breeding of superior sweet potatoes for South African conditions with elevated protein content. Funding: ARC
  • Breeding of maize for resistance to the parasitic weed, Striga asiatica plus and biocontrol of Striga. Funding: AGRA and Rockefeller Foundation

Academic Service

SAEES committees, SAEES Board, SAAES Manco, WACCI Board of Management.


217 publications as of March 2017.



Contact Webmaster | View the Promotion of Access to Information Act | View our Privacy Policy
© University of KwaZulu-Natal: All Rights Reserved