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October 23rd, 2018 / Phys.org

In a world first, international scientists including a University of Otago researcher, have used whole genome sequencing to help diagnose a plant pathogen destroying crops on African farms, potentially paving the way for preventing crop failures, vital to the African economy.

Dr. Jo-Ann Stanton, a Senior Research Fellow in the University of Otago’s Department of Anatomy, helped develop the PDQeX, one of the two prototype technologies which have made it possible to carry out the whole genome sequencing on remote African farms.

“This achievement opens the way to rapid and accurate pathogen identification, permitting immediate corrective action to prevent crop failure,” Dr. Stanton explains.

“For the subsistence farmers of East Africa this is the difference between having food and an income or going hungry,” she says.

“Crop failure means a loss of food security and no income for school fees, supplies, farm improvements or maintenance.” Read more