Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Purging the plantain pests in Africa

22.02.2008
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 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
Further information:
http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk/media/briefings/sarid.pdf
http://www.leeds.ac.uk/media/press_releases/current/plantains.htm

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht New research recovers nutrients from seafood process water
31.10.2018 | Chalmers University of Technology

nachricht Plant Hormone Makes Space Farming a Possibility
17.10.2018 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A Leap Into Quantum Technology

Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.

In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...

Im Focus: Research icebreaker Polarstern begins the Antarctic season

What does it look like below the ice shelf of the calved massive iceberg A68?

On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.

Im Focus: Penn engineers develop ultrathin, ultralight 'nanocardboard'

When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure

Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...

Im Focus: Coping with errors in the quantum age

Physicists at ETH Zurich demonstrate how errors that occur during the manipulation of quantum system can be monitored and corrected on the fly

The field of quantum computation has seen tremendous progress in recent years. Bit by bit, quantum devices start to challenge conventional computers, at least...

Im Focus: Nanorobots propel through the eye

Scientists developed specially coated nanometer-sized vehicles that can be actively moved through dense tissue like the vitreous of the eye. So far, the transport of nano-vehicles has only been demonstrated in model systems or biological fluids, but not in real tissue. The work was published in the journal Science Advances and constitutes one step further towards nanorobots becoming minimally-invasive tools for precisely delivering medicine to where it is needed.

Researchers of the “Micro, Nano and Molecular Systems” Lab at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Stuttgart, together with an international...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

“3rd Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2018” Attracts International Experts and Users

09.11.2018 | Event News

On the brain’s ability to find the right direction

06.11.2018 | Event News

European Space Talks: Weltraumschrott – eine Gefahr für die Gesellschaft?

23.10.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

In focus: Peptides, the “little brothers and sisters” of proteins

12.11.2018 | Life Sciences

Materials scientist creates fabric alternative to batteries for wearable devices

12.11.2018 | Materials Sciences

A two-atom quantum duet

12.11.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>