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 Africa’s 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 we’re 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.“
Jo Kelly | alfa
Forest Management Yields Higher Productivity through Biodiversity
14.10.2016 | Technische Universität München
Farming with forests
23.09.2016 | University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES)
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.
"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...
COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.
In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...
'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.
Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
24.10.2016 | Life Sciences
21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine
21.10.2016 | Information Technology