Navigation Links
Purging the plantain pests in Africa
Date:2/21/2008

A tiny pest threatening the staple diet of millions in Africa could soon be eradicated in a project announced today, bringing together plant experts from Leeds and Uganda.

Professor Howard Atkinson and Dr Peter Urwin from the University of Leeds Faculty of Biological Sciences have been awarded 500,000 through the 7 million Sustainable Agriculture Research for International Development (SARID) scheme launched today by the Department for International Development (DFID) and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC). The Leeds project is one of 12 funded under the scheme, all of which involve unique partnerships between UK scientists and researchers from institutions in Africa, Asia and elsewhere.

Plantain and other varieties of cooking banana provide 30 per cent of the daily calorific intake of Ugandans and many of Africas other poorest populations. But up to half of the plantain harvest is lost through nematode worms feeding on and damaging their roots. The Leeds researchers will work with colleagues from the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture in Uganda to find a solution to the problem.

The partnership will use the latest biotechnology techniques to develop pest resistance in plantains, which can then be made available to growers throughout Africa. A major part of the 3-year project is ensuring that the new resistant plantains can be produced across Africa where growing conditions can vary enormously.

Professor Atkinson says: The impact of this parasite can be overwhelming for families and communities that rely on plantain for their staple diet. Already nearly one third of the sub-Saharan African population is severely undernourished, so poor crop yields or worse - crop failure - can be catastrophic for subsistence farmers.

If we can make these crops more reliable through resistance to the nematode, not only will it secure dietary intake, but some land will also be freed up for nutritious crops like beans - and surplus plantains could be sold at market to give some income to the poorest of communities," he says.

However, like the sweet dessert bananas we are more familiar with, plantains are sterile plants that produce no seeds, limiting the use of conventional plant breeding to build resistance to the pest over successive generations.

Professor Atkinson says: It makes the job tougher. Plantains are re-planted using offshoots. This means that every plant is a genetically identical clone of the original - and a pest that affects plantains is capable of affecting every single plant.

There are four or five types of problematic worm that live in the soil and were looking to find a way to control them in a one size fits all approach. Our Ugandan partners have developed a technology to add genes into plantains and this, combined with our leading knowledge of nematodes, makes us hopeful that we can target this technique to inhibit the unique digestive process of the worms and stop their destruction, without affecting surrounding plants or other animals in the soil.


'/>"/>

Contact: Jo Kelly
jokelly@campuspr.co.uk
44-113-258-9880
University of Leeds
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Impoverished areas of Africa and Asia face severe crop losses from climate change in 20 years
2. Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa commits 180M to revive farmers depleted soils
3. Marsupial lion tops African lion in fight to death
4. Study: weight-loss tips differ in African-American, mainstream magazines
5. Study of African traditional medicine will begin world-first clinical trial
6. First symposium of UN University-Cornell Africa Series to be held at UN
7. New genetic variant associated with prostate cancer in African-Americans
8. Mellon awards Carnegie Grant for Ecological Monitoring in South Africa
9. Now is Africas turn for a green revolution, global experts say
10. Fossilized cashew nuts reveal Europe was important route between Africa and South America
11. Improving science, technology in Africa is aim as G-8, African, UN experts convene in Berlin
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Purging the plantain pests in Africa
(Date:5/12/2016)... DALLAS , May 12, 2016 ... has just published the overview results from the Q1 ... of the recent wave was consumers, receptivity to a ... wearables data with a health insurance company. ... choose to share," says Michael LaColla , CEO ...
(Date:4/28/2016)... -- First quarter 2016:   , Revenues ... first quarter of 2015 The gross margin was 49% ... and the operating margin was 40% (-13) Earnings per ... from operations was SEK 249.9 M (21.2) , Outlook ... 7,000-8,500 M. The operating margin for 2016 is estimated ...
(Date:4/15/2016)... CHICAGO , April 15, 2016  A ... companies make more accurate underwriting decisions in a ... offering timely, competitively priced and high-value life insurance ... health screenings. With Force Diagnostics, rapid ... and lifestyle data readings (blood pressure, weight, pulse, ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... While the majority of commercial ... Cary 5000 and the 6000i models are higher end machines that use the more ... the spectrophotometer’s light beam from the bottom of the cuvette holder. , FireflySci ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , ... June 23, 2016 , ... ... release of its second eBook, “Clinical Trials Patient Recruitment and Retention Tips.” Partnering ... retention in this eBook by providing practical tips, tools, and strategies for clinical ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... CAMBRIDGE, Mass. , June 23, 2016 /PRNewswire/ ... the development of novel compounds designed to target ... compound, napabucasin, has been granted Orphan Drug Designation ... in the treatment of gastric cancer, including gastroesophageal ... cancer stemness inhibitor designed to inhibit cancer stemness ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... SILVER SPRING, Md. , June 23, 2016 ... evidence collected from the crime scene to track the criminal ... sick, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) uses ... Sound far-fetched? It,s not. ... whole genome sequencing to support investigations of foodborne illnesses. Put ...
Breaking Biology Technology: