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Research team receives $7.5 million to study cassava

es on ways to decrease or eliminate cyanogens in cassava roots. Through the BioCassava Plus project, he will work with other experts to increase the root's nutritional value, its shelf life once harvested (cassava roots deteriorate in about two days unless they are properly processed after harvesting) and its resistance to geminivirus, a particularly devastating plant virus that can destroy up to 60 percent of a cassava crop.

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.


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Source:Ohio State University


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