Cassava production is constrained by viral diseases, especially in Africa and in the Indian sub-Continent. Cassava mosaic disease (CMD) is the important disease threatening cassava production in Africa. CMD is caused by a group of whitefly-transmitted cassava geminiviruses (DNA viruses). The Plant Genetics Lab uses Next Generation Sequencing to investigate the genetic basis for tolerance to CMD infection in cassava.

In the last decade, cassava brown streak disease (CBSD) has emerged as a devastating disease causing important losses in East Africa. Even though it was first identified in 1930’s, molecular diversity and dissemination dynamics remain poorly studied. CBSD is caused by cassava brown streak viruses (CBSVs), RNA viruses belonging to the Potyviridae family.

The Plant Genetics Lab develops infectious clones for CBSV inoculation on cassava and investigates molecular determinants of natural resistance against CBSVs as well as implements genome editing technologies to confer resistance to CBSD.