SLU news

Margareta Hökeberg, pioneering researcher in biological control, has passed away

Published: 27 September 2023
A smiling woman by flowers indoors. Photo.

Margareta Hökeberg has passed away after a period of illness, aged 70. Margareta had a long and successful career as an internationally recognized expert on the use of bacteria in biological control and was director of the SLU Center for Biological Control, CBC, from its inception in 2011 until 2018 when she retired.

Margareta's work with bacteria-treated seeds against seed-borne diseases in cereal crops was groundbreaking. She was one of the researchers who, together with Lantmännen, discovered and developed the bacterium Pseudomonas chlororaphis isolate MA 342 into a biological agent for seed treatment, with a focus on use in cereals, but also for use on vegetables.

– Margareta was an excellent example of a researcher who did not stay in the academy's ivory tower. She brought her discoveries to the industry and succeeded in commercializing several products for biological plant protection. For me, Margareta was also a role model as a leader. Her inclusive, friendly, and motivating leadership style within CBC strongly contributed to a common identity and that everyone worked together towards the same goal, says CBC researcher Mattias Jonsson.

Putting biological control on the map

Margareta thought it was a privilege to be involved in starting the SLU Center for Biological Control. She felt that it made a big difference in increasing our knowledge of biological control and putting biological control methods on the map among stakeholders and authorities.

– Margareta was warm, generous and had a lot of humor. As director of CBC, she was results-oriented and not afraid to try new ways of communicating modern crop protection, says Cajsa Lithell, communicator for CBC.

Kind and empathetic with scientific sharpness

– I remember Margareta as a warm and empathetic person, always willing to support others and generously share her great knowledge. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to have her as a colleague. My thoughts go out to her family, says former CBC researcher Magnus Karlsson.

– When I think of Margareta, it is first and foremost the warmth she spread that I remember, but also her scientific sharpness - she had a unique combination of big visions and her feet firmly on the ground. She was a great source of inspiration for me, both for her qualities as a researcher and as a colleague and fellow human being, says Hanna Friberg from CBC's steering group.