''Delivering disease resistant cassava enhanced through biotechnology for farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa''

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Monday 21 October 2019, 10:00 - 11:30


Cassava (Manihot esculenta) is a staple food crop of major importance across most of sub-Saharan Africa. Cassava production in Africa is constrained by cassava mosaic disease (CMD) and cassava brown streak disease (CBSD). No varieties are available to farmers possessing robust resistance CBSD. We took a RNAi approach by expressing siRNAs derived from both CBSD causal viruses to generate cassava plants that demonstrate very high levels of resistance to CBSD under greenhouse and field conditions in Uganda and Kenya. Under high disease pressure the best performing lines produced up to 20 times higher usable yields compared to non-modified controls. Integration of leading RNAi lines into breeding programs in both countries has developed an array of germplasm possessing stacked resistance to CMD and CBSD. Studies have been completed for compilation of the regulatory dossiers required to seek approval for release of the virus resistant planting materials to farmers. In parallel studies, resistance to virus diseases has been combined with biofortification, enhancing the iron and zinc content of cassava storage roots to meet nutrient requirements for populations in West Africa. Hurdles met at the technical, regulatory and policy levels will be presented to give appreciation of the challenges involved in developing and delivering biotechnology products to farmers in East Africa.

Location Jozef Schell Seminar Room
Contact Dr Nigel J. Taylor
Donald Danforth Plant Science Center
St. Louis