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Crop Biotech Update

Research Reveals New Insights to Advance Cassava Breeding

September 16, 2020
An IITA farm officer, Anetor Omonuwa, holds cassava variety undergoing field testing for high yield potential in IITA’s Ikenne research station in Nigeria. Photo Source: IITA
Researchers at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and partners from the NextGen Cassava Breeding Project have uncovered new details about the genetic architecture of cassava, a vital crop in Africa. The researchers conducted a genome-wide association study (GWAS) and analyzed large breeding populations composed of 5,130 clones developed in Nigeria at the IITA Cassava Breeding Program.

The four-year study involved extensive multi-locational testing at four IITA field trials in Nigeria. The analysis explored genomic regions that are responsible for desirable traits in cassava, a food crop that is a primary source of calories for more than 500 million people worldwide. The scientists found more than 40 quantitative trait loci (QTL) associated with 14 traits. These are responsible for characteristics such as disease responses, nutritional quality, and yield. The traits were classified broadly into four categories: biotic stress, root quality, plant agronomy, and agro-morphology.

Chiedozie Egesi, NextGen Program Director, noted the importance of cassava as both a food and industrial crop. "A complete understanding of cassava's genetic architecture is the critical step needed to accelerate genetic improvement and bring lasting benefits to farmers and consumers who depend on this crop for food and income throughout the world," said Egesi.

For more details about the study, read the article in the IITA website.

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