In the news...

Genome of cultivated groundnuts completed

March 3rd, 2016 / ISAAA

The International Peanut Genome Initiative (IPGI), including researchers from the University of Georgia and the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), has completed sequencing the ancestral genomes of groundnut. The groundnut that is grown today comes from the hybridization of two wild species, Arachis duranensis (V14167, A-genome …

Protecting crop and feed diversity enhances food security while reducing GHGs

March 3rd, 2016 / ILRI, Ethiopia

Crop diversity can be conserved and shared. Scientists know how to do it and at a very limited cost to the world community. It requires global leadership and stronger partnerships and the building of capacities of scientists in the developing world. No country is self-sufficient; successful breeding is highly dependent …

Viruses have their own version of CRISPR

March 1st, 2016 / The Atlantic, US

With all the buzz around CRISPR, the gene-editing technique that has instigated many an ethical debate and one acrimonious patent dispute, it would be easy to mistake it for a recent human invention. It’s not. Bacteria invented CRISPR billions of years ago, as a defense against marauding viruses. The bacteria …

Scientists race to halt banana catastrophe

March 1st, 2016 / SciDev.net, UK

Scientists in developing countries are scrambling to find a cure for a devastating fungus that threatens to wipe out the global banana trade and plunge millions of farmers into poverty. Around the world, banana farmers are fighting a losing battle against Tropical Race 4, a soil fungus that kills Cavendish …

How technology can be a sweet game-changer for African agriculture

March 1st, 2016 / Mail & Guardian Africa, Kenya

Many fear that the new industrial age will hurt emerging markets, as they are likely to suffer when artificial intelligence and robots become widely used, reducing the competitive advantage of their cheap labour. For 80% of Africans employed in the agriculture sector, this also holds an uncertain future since the …

Immunity gene fusions discovered in plants

February 26th, 2016 / ISAAA

A certain class of plant immune receptors has been identified to be highly informative about plant disease resistance. Nucleotide-binding Leucine-Rich Repeat receptors (NLRs) with additional integrated domains that act as ‘baits’ for the pathogen have been identified in rice and thale cress, and experimentally shown to be involved in disease …

New genetic advancements in wheat aimed at enhancing yield

February 26th, 2016 / ISAAA

Researchers from Texas A&M AgriLife Research Dr. Shuyu Liu are about to close the knowledge gap on the location of key traits in the wheat genome and how to access them. The study included three wheat populations from two popular AgriLife Research cultivars, TAM 111 and TAM 112, and other …

Uganda: Anti-GMO critics smear Cornell, African science communicators – what’s the real story?

February 24th, 2016 / Genetic Literacy Project

African agriculturalist and science writer Isaac Ongu takes a look beyond the smear campaign leveled at the Cornell Alliance for Science. Read …

Nairobi bioscience hub takes Africa to the next scientific frontier

February 23rd, 2016 / The Star, Kenya

Before the Biosciences Eastern and Central Africa (BecA) hub was established at the Nairobi-based International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), scientists from Kenya and the region would flock foreign institutions to seek opportunities for research. Many would graduate from the institutions and opt to work in the host countries. But as …

World hunger: what the Ebola virus can teach us about saving crops

February 22nd, 2016 / The Conversation, UK

If we can bring the same technologies to bear against crop diseases as well as human ones, we can help eradicate hunger – a less newsworthy and more slow-burning problem than Ebola, but far more deadly in terms of the human toll. Read …