A cassava plant usually reaches 3 to 4 feet in height, though some plants can grow up to 13 feet tall.
The researchers will work on developing new types of cassava plants that have increased levels of zinc, iron, protein and vitamins A and E, and that can also withstand post-harvest deterioration.
"The Gates Foundation mandated that we provide complete nutrition in a single crop species," Sayre said. "We hope to achieve each individual goal ?to reduce cyanide content, reduce deterioration after harvesting and increase virus resistance.
"Eventually, we'd like to bring all of these traits together into one variety of cassava," he said.
Sayre's colleagues include 18 scientists from 10 research institutions including Ohio State: the U.S. Department of Agriculture in St. Louis; the Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis; Washington University Medical School, St. Louis; the University of Bath, United Kingdom; the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), headquartered in Colombia; the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), headquartered in Nigeria; ETH Zurich in Switzerland; Washington State University; and the University of Puerto Rico.