Hundred years of Botany at the NWU: contributions towards understanding plant and algae function, diversity and restoration in a changing environment
Keywords:Aquatic sciences, geoecology, plant ecophysiology, proteomics, taxonomy, terrestrial plant ecology, urban and settlement ecology
The Department of Botany on the Potchefstroom Campus (formerly Potchefstroom University for Christian Higher Education) of the North-West University (NWU) had its centenary in 2020. In this paper we celebrate this milestone by giving an overview of the history of the Department at this campus, including its recent establishment and expansion on the NWU Mahikeng Campus (formerly the University of North-West). A brief overview is presented of the advances in teaching and research over the years, and the development and relevance of the important plant collections in the botanical garden, two herbaria and the national diatom collection. The main emphasis of this contribution is, however, a reflection on the advancement and significance of research conducted by various disciplines on plant and algae function, diversity and ecological restoration over the years. The different disciplines in Botany at NWU, from the oldest to the more recent, are Plant Taxonomy, Plant Ecophysiology, Terrestrial Plant Ecology, Aquatic Sciences, Urban and Settlement Ecology, Geoecology, and Proteomics. Different aspects contributing to changes occurring in the environment, such as pollution, land degradation, urbanisation, overexploitation of resources and the subsequent effect of these on plant diversity and function are especially addressed in our current research. The results of our research inter alia led to solutions for problems occurring in the landscape and contribute to the well-being of the people using the land and water by restoring important ecosystem services.
Ahern, J., Cilliers, S.S. & Niemelä, J., 2014, ‘The concept of ecosystem services in adaptive urban planning and design: A framework for supporting innovation’, Landscape and Urban Planning, 125, 254–259. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.landurbplan.2014.01.020
Akhtar-Schuster, M., Amiraslani, F., Diaz Morejon, C.F., Escadafal, R., Fulajtar, E., Grainger, A., Kellner, K., Khan, S.I., Perez Pardo, O., Sauchanka, U., Stringer, L.C., Reda, F. & Thomas, R.J., 2016, ‘Designing a new science-policy communication mechanism for the UN Convention to Combat Desertification’, Environmental Science & Policy, 63, 122–131. DOI: 10.1016/j.envsci.2016.03.009
Aronson, M.F.J, Nilon, C.H., Lepczyk, C.A., Parker, T., Warren, P.S., Cilliers, S.S., Goddard, M.A., Hahs, A., Herzog, C., Katti, M., La Sorte, F.A., Williams, N.S.G. & Zipperer, W., 2016, ‘Hierarchical Filters determine community assembly of urban species pools’, Ecology, 97(1), 2952–2963. doi:10.1002/ecy.1535
Berner, J.M., Cloete, H. & Shuuya, T., 2021, ‘A baseline assessment of the photsynthetic potential of Welwitschia mirabilis using the JIP-test for monitoring and conservation purposes’, Bothalia 51(1): 133–139 (hardcopy); 1–7 (online) [this issue].
Bester, S.P. & Nicholas, A., 2018, ‘New combinations in Stenostelma (Apocynaceae—Asclepiadoideae) and two novel species from South Africa’, Phytotaxa, 361(1), 41–55. 10.11646/phytotaxa.361.1.3
Boneschans, R.B., Coetzee, M.S. & Siebert, S.J., 2015, ‘A geobotanical investigation of the Koedoesfontein Complex, Vredefort Dome, South Africa’, Australian Journal of Botany, 63, 324–340. DOI: 10.1071/BT14267
Botha P.J., 1950, ‘The effect of time of pre-exposure, temperature of pre-exposure and concentration of the host factor on the germination of the seed of Alectra vogelii Benth. ‘, Journal of South African Botany, 16, 23–29.
Bredenkamp, C.L. & Botha, D.J., 1993, ‘A synopsis of the genus Vitex L. (Verbenaceae) in southern Africa’, South African Journal of Botany, 59(6), 611–622.
Bredenkamp, G.J. & Bezuidenhout, H., 1990, ‘The phytosociology of the Faan Meintjies Nature Reserve in the western Transvaal grassland, South Africa.’ South African Journal of Botany, 56(1), 54–64.
Bredenkamp, G.J., Joubert, A.F. & Bezuidenhout, H., 1989, ‘A reconnaissance survey of the vegetation of the plains in the Potchefstroom-Fochville-Parys area’, South African Journal of Botany, 55(2), 199–206.
Chatukuta, P., Dikobe, T. B., Kawadza, D. T., Sehlabane, K. S., Takundwa, M. M., Wong, A., Gehring, C. & Ruzvidzo, O., 2018, ‘An Arabidopsis clathrin assembly protein with a predicted role in plant defense can function as an adenylate cyclase’, Biomolecules, 8(2), 15. DOI: 10.3390/biom8020015
Cilliers, S.S. & Bredenkamp, G.J., 2000, ‘Vegetation of roadside verges on an urbanization gradient in Potchefstroom, South Africa’, Landscape and Urban Planning, 46, 217–239.
Cilliers, S.S., Müller, N. & Drewes, J.E., 2004, ‘Overview on ban nature conservation: situation in the western-grassland biome of South Africa’, Urban Forestry & Urban Greening, 3, 49–62. doi:10.1016/j.ufug.2004.04.003
Cilliers, S.S., Siebert, S.J., Du Toit, M.J., Barthel, S., Mishra, S., Cornelius, A. & Davoren, E., 2018, ‘Garden ecosystem services of Sub-Saharan Africa and the role of health clinic gardens as social-ecological systems’, Landscape and Urban Planning, 180, 294–307. DOI: 10.1016/j.landurbplan.2017.01.011
Conradie K.R. & Barnard S., 2012, ‘The dynamics of toxic Microcystis strains and microcystin production in two hypertrofic South African reservoirs’, Harmful Algae, 20, 1–10. DOI: 10.1016/j.hal.2012.03.006
Du Toit, M. & Cilliers, S.S., 2011, ‘Aspects influencing the selection of representative urbanization measures to quantify urban-rural gradients’ Landscape Ecology, 26, 169–181. DOI: 10.1007/s10980-010-9560-4
Du Toit, M.J., Kotze, D.J. & Cilliers, S.S., 2020, ‘Quantifying long-term urban grassland dynamics: biotic homogenization and extinction debts’, Sustainability, 12, 1989. DOI:10.3390/su12051989
Epp Schmidt, D.J., Pouyat, R., Szlavecz, K., Setälä, H., Kotze, D.J., Yesilonis, I., Cilliers, S.S., Hornung, E., Dombos, M. & Yarwood, S.A., 2017, ‘Urbanization leads to the loss of ectomycorrhizal fungal diversity and the convergence of archaeal and fungal soil communities’, Nature Ecology & Evolution, 1, 0123.
Goossens, A.P., 1941, ‘A new genus of South African Gramineae’, South African Journal of Science, 37, 183–191.
Goossens, A.P. & Phillips, E.P., 1932, ‘The genus Anthephora Schreb.’, Transactions of the Royal Society of South Africa, 20(2), 189–200.
Griffiths C., Day J. & Picker M., 2015, Freshwater Life – A field guide to the plants and animals of southern Africa. Cape Town: Struik Nature.
Harmse, C.J., Kellner, K. & Dreber, N., 2016, ‘Restoring productive rangelands: a comparative assessment of selective and non-selective chemical bush control in a semi-arid Kalahari savanna’, Journal of Arid Environments, 135, 39–49.
Heyneke, E., Strasser, R.J., Strauss, A.J. & Krüger, G.H.J., 2012, ‘Open-top chamber facility to study air pollution impacts in South Africa. Part II: SO2-drought interactions on yield, photosynthesis and symbiotic nitrogen fixation in soybean’, South African Journal of Plant & Soil, 29(1), 9–23. https://doi.org/10.1080/02571862.2012.688373
Janse van Vuuren, S. & Pieterse, A.J.H., 2005, ‘The use of multivariate analysis as a tool to illustrate the influence of environmental variables on phytoplankton composition in the Vaal River’, African Journal of Aquatic Sciences, 30(1), 17–28. https://doi.org/10.2989/16085910509503830
Janse van Vuuren, S., Taylor, J., Gerber, A. & Van Ginkel, C., 2006, Easy identification of the most common freshwater algae. A guide for the identification of microscopic algae in South African freshwaters. Potchefstroom: North-West University and Department of Water Affairs and Forestry.
Jooste, W., 2017, ‘Plantkunde: Die wetenskap van skoonheid’ in Van Eeden, E.S. (red.) ‘n Bekroonde nalatenskap: die Fakulteit Natuurwetenskappe van die NWU oor 100 jaar. Potchefstroom: Ivyline Academic Publishers, pp. 91–113.
Kellner, K. & Booysen, J., 2000, ‘ISPD - integrated system for plant dynamics: a decision support system for rangeland management’ in Ringrose, S. & Chanda, R. (eds.) Towards sustainable management in the Kalahari region: some essential background and critical issues. Gaborone: Directorate of Research and Development, University of Botswana, pp. 151–155.
Kellner, K. & Bosch, O.J.H., 2003, ‘The value of local and indigenous knowledge for the development of information systems for conservation management’ in Lemons, J., Victor, R. & Schaffer, D. (eds.) Conserving biodiversity in arid regions: best practices in developing nations. New York: Springer, pp. 105–118.
Kellner, K., Von Maltitz, G., Seely, M., Atlhopheng, J. & Lindeque, L., 2018, ‘South African arid lands: current status and future prospects’ in Guar, M.K. & Squires, V.R. (eds.) Climate variability impacts on land use and livelihoods in drylands. Cham: Springer, pp. 243–260.
Krüger G.H.J., Jordaan A. Tiedt L.R., Strasser R.J., Kilbourn Louw M. & Berner J.M., 2017, ‘Opportunistic survival strategy of Welwitschia mirabilis: Recent anatomical and physiological studies elucidating stomatal behaviour and photosynthetic potential’, Botany, 95, 109–1123. https://doi.org/10.1139/cjb-2017-0095
Krüger, G.H.J., Tsimilli-Michael, M., & Strasser, R.J., 1997, ‘Light stress provokes plastic and elastic modifications in structure and function of photosystem II in Camellia leaves’, Physiologia Plantarum, 101, 265–277.
Lebatha, P., Buys, M.H. & Stedje, B., 2006, ‘Ledebouria, Resnova and Drimiopsis: a tale of three genera’, Taxon, 55(3), 643–652. https://doi.org/10.2307/25065640
Levanets, A. & Van Rensburg, L., 2011, Desmids of Southern Africa: An annotated and illustrated list. Potchefstroom: Platinum Press.
Lubbe, C.S., Siebert, S.J. & Cilliers, S.S., 2010, ‘Political legacy of South Africa affects the plant diversity patterns of urban domestic gardens along a socioeconomic gradient’, Scientific Research and Essays, 5(19), 2900–2910.
Maliba, B.G., Inbaraj, P.M. & Berner, J.M., 2019, ‘Photosynthetic responses of canola and wheat to elevated levels of CO2, O3 and water deficit in open-top chambers’, Plants, 8(6), 171. https://doi.org/10.3390/plants8060171
Ruzvidzo, O., Gehring, C. & Wong, A., 2019, ‘New perspectives on plant adenylyl cyclases’, Frontiers in Molecular Biosciences, 6, 136. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmolb.2019.00136
Siebert, F. & Dreber, N., 2019, ‘Forb ecology research in dry African savannas: Knowledge, gaps, and future perspectives’, Ecology and Evolution, 9, 7875–7891. https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.5307
Siebert, F. & Scogings, P., 2015, ‘Browsing intensity of herbaceous forbs across a semi-arid savanna catenal sequence’, South African Journal of Botany, 100, 36–74. DOI:10.1016/j.sajb.2015.05.007
Siebert, F., Van Staden, N., Komape, D.M., Swemmer, A.M. & Siebert, S.J., 2021, ‘Effects of land-use change on herbaceous vegetation in a semi-arid Mopaneveld savannah’, Bothalia, 51(1): 107–132 (hardcopy); 1–26 (online) [this issue].
Siebert, S. J., Retief, E., Van Wyk, A.E. & Struwig, M., 2010, ‘A new species of Polygala (Polygalaceae) from ultramafic soils in Sekhukhuneland, South Africa, with notes on its ecology’, South African Journal of Botany, 76(2), 345–353.
Siebert, S.J., Schutte, N., Bester, S.P., Komape, D.M. & Rajakaruna, N., 2018, Senecio conrathii N.E.Br. (Asteraceae), a new hyperaccumulator of nickel from serpentinite outcrops of the Barberton Greenstone Belt, South Africa’, Ecological Research, 33, 651–658. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11284-017-1541-5
Smit, M.F., Cilliers, S.S., Siebert, S.J. & Willis, C.K., 2011, ‘The North-West University Botanical Garden: The resurgence of this North-West Province haven of biodiversity’, Veld & Flora, 97(1), 11–13.
Smit, M.F., Van Heerden, P.D.R., Pienaar, J.J., Weissflog, L., Strasser, R.J. & Krüger, G.H.J., 2008, ‘Effect of trifluoroacetate, a persistent degradation product of fluorinated hydrocarbons, on C3 and C4 crop plants’, Plant Physiology and Biochemistry, 47, 623–634.
Strauss, A.J., Krüger, G.H.J., Strasser, R.J. & Van Heerden, P.D.R., 2006, ‘Ranking of dark chilling tolerance in soybean genotypes probed by the chlorophyll a fluorescence transient O-J-I-P’, Environmental and Experimental Botany, 56, 147–157.
Struwig, M., & Siebert, S.J., 2013, ‘A taxonomic revision of Boerhavia (Nyctaginaceae) in southern Africa’, South African Journal of Botany, 86, 116–134. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sajb.2013.02.172
Swanepoel, A., Barnard, S., Recknagel, F. & Cao H., 2016, ‘Evaluation of models generated via hybrid evolutionary algorithms for the prediction of Microcystis concentrations in the Vaal Dam, South Africa’, Water SA, 42(2), 243–252.
Taylor, J.C., Bills R. & Harding, W.R., 2011, ‘The South African Diatom Collection: an update’, African Journal of Aquatic Science, 36(1), 113–114.
Taylor, J.C., Levanets, A., Blanco, S. & Ector, L., 2010, ‘Microcostatus schoemanii sp. nov., M. cholnokyi sp. nov. and M. angloensis sp. nov.: Three new terrestrial diatoms (Bacillariophyceae) from South Africa’, Phycological Research, 58(3), 177–187.
Taylor, J.C., Prygiel, J., Vosloo, A., De La Rey, P.A., & Van Rensburg, L., 2007, ‘Can diatom based pollution indices be used for bio-monitoring in South Africa? A case study of the Crocodile West and Marico water management area’, Hydrobiologia, 592, 455–464.
Theunissen, J.D., 1992, ‘An ecosystematic investigation of Themeda triandra (Poaceae: Andropogoneae) in the semi-arid grasslands of southern Africa’, Journal of Arid Environments, 23(1), 35–44.
Van Der Walt, L., Cilliers, S.S., Kellner, K., Du Toit, M.J. & Tongway, D., 2015, ‘To what extent does urbanisation affect fragmented grassland functioning?’, Journal of Environmental Management, 151, 517–530. doi: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2014.11.034
Van Ginkel, C., Cao, H., Recknagel, F., & Du Plessis, S., 2007, ‘Forecasting of dinoflagellate blooms in warm-monomictic hypertrophic reservoirs in South Africa by means of rulebased agents’, Water SA, 33(4), 1–8.
Van Heerden, P.D.R., Krüger, G.H.J., Loveland, J.E., Parry, M.A.J. & Foyer, C.H., 2003, ‘Dark chilling impose metabolic restrictions on photosynthesis in soybean’, Plant Cell & Environment, 26, 323–337.
Van Niekerk, C.J.G. & Siebert, S.J., 2018, ‘A second chance on life: Khadia beswickii‘, PlantLife, 46,9.
Van Rensburg, L. & Krüger, G.H.J., 1993a, ‘Comparative analysis of differential drought stress-induced inhibition of, and recovery in, carbon dioxide fixation: Stomatal and non-stomatal limitations in Nicotiana tabacum L.’, Journal of Plant Physiology, 142, 296–306.
Van Rensburg, L., Krüger, G.H.J. & Krüger, H., 1993b, ‘Proline accumulation as drought-tolerance selection criterion: its relationship to membrane integrity and chloroplast ultrastructure in Nicotiana tabacum L.’, Journal of Plant Physiology, 141, 188–194.
Venter, A., Barnard, S., Dickinson, M.A., Janse van Vuuren, S., Levanets, A. & Taylor, J.C., 2013, ‘Planktonic algae and cyanoprokaryotes as indicators of ecosystem quality in the Mooi River system in the North-West Province, South Africa’, Water SA, 39(5), 707–719.
Venter, A., Siebert, S.J., Rajakaruna, N., Barnard, S., Levanets, A., Ismail, A., Allam, M., Peterson, B. & Sanko, T., 2018, ‘Biological crusts of serpentine and non-serpentine soils from the Barberton Greenstone Belt of South Africa’, Ecological Research, 33, 629–640.
Von Maltitz, G.P., Gambizo, J., Kellner, K., Rambau, T., Lindeque, L. & Kgope, B., 2019, ‘Experiences from the South African land degradation neutrality target setting process’, Environmental Science and Policy, 101, 54–62.
Whitehead, C.S., Halevy, A.H. & Reid, M.S., 1984, ‘Roles of ethylene and 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylic in pollinated and wound-induced senescence of Petunia hybrida L.’, Physiologia Plantarum, 61(4), 643–648.
How to Cite
Copyright (c) 2021 Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license (CC BY 4.0)
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.