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Danforth Center Collaborative Research Program receives funding to improve crop yield in Africa
Date:9/6/2011

ST. LOUIS, MO September 6, 2011-- The Donald Danforth Plant Science Center announced today that it has received additional funding totaling $11.9 million for the Virus Resistant Cassava for Africa (VIRCA) project to advance its work to improve the health and wellbeing of farmers, their families, and other consumers of cassava living in Sub Saharan Africa.

Funds will be used to support Phase II of the humanitarian effort to develop and deliver farmer-preferred cassava varieties enhanced to resist serious plant virus diseases that are greatly reducing crop yield and increasing the threat of poverty and famine.

The additional funding came from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation ($5.6 million), The Monsanto Fund ($5.4 million) and the Howard Buffett Foundation ($860,000). VIRCA is also supported by USAID from the American people ($2.5 million).

Two products will be developed in VIRCA-II. The first product will incorporate siRNA-based resistance to CBSD in the popular cultivar TME204, which has natural resistance to CMD and is favored by farmers in Uganda and the Lake Victoria region. "Delivery of CBSD resistant TME204 is the fastest route to address the CBSD epidemic" said Dr. Anton Bua, the Ugandan Cassava Research Team Leader in charge of field trials and communication for the project in East Africa. A second product will be developed in the highly popular, traditional Ebwanateraka cultivar in which virus sequences will be stacked to impart resistance to both CBSD and CMD. Known as the "Queen" of cassava for its taste and texture as well as its flexibility in harvesting time, Ebwanateraka has been virtually wiped out in the Uganda region due to the two viral diseases.

VIRCA-II is a collaboration between researchers at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St Louis, MO, the NaCRRI, and the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI). The team will build on achievements made in VIRCA-I, during which gen
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Contact: Melanie Bernds
mbernds@danforthcenter.org
314-587-1647
Donald Danforth Plant Science Center
Source:Eurekalert  

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