Genetics and Genomics expertise at UP tapped for Gates Foundation project on Cassava Brown Streak Disease 2014-07-29
Teddy Amuge, Esther Masumba and Inosters Nzuki are PhD students registered at the University of Pretoria but based at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Kenya. Collectively, they are tackling Cassava Brown Streak Disease (CBSD) in a project funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. CBSD is caused by various strains of cassava brown streak virus and is a major threat to cassava production in Africa. Common symptoms are browning of the cassava tuberous roots, which makes them inedible. Recently, Teddy, Esther and Inosters visited FABI together with their Project Leader at IITA, Dr Morag Ferguson, for data analysis workshops and PhD project progress reports and presentations in their respective Departments. Teddy is registered in the Department of Plant Science, supervised by Prof Dave Berger. The main supervisors of Esther and Inosters are in the Department of Genetics - Dr Albe van der Merwe and Prof Zander Myburg, respectively. Teddy’s project aims to unpack gene expression differences between susceptible and tolerant varieties of cassava to CBSD using global transcriptome analysis, whereas Esther and Inosters are mapping QTL for tolerance to CBSD using diverse populations of cassava grown in the field in East Africa. During their visit the students also presented posters of their research at the 9th Regional Plant Biotechnology Forum co-ordinated by the African Centre for Gene Technologies (ACGT) and hosted by the ARC in Pretoria.