Crop Biotech Update

CBSD - Emerging Threat to Cassava Production

May 28, 2010

Cassava Brown Streak Disease (CBSD) is an emerging threat to cassava production that affects the livelihoods of millions of African farmers. In the last 10 years, CBSD has spread aggressively throughout East Africa, now causing up to 70% yield loss in the worst affected regions, and threatening more than 30 million tons of annual cassava production in the region. Thus, a group of 50 eminent cassava scientists from Africa, Europe and America met at the Lake Victoria Hotel in Entebbe, Uganda to discuss this problem during the International Cassava Brown Streak Disease Workshop.

The group formed an alliance to fight CBSD by collaborating in the development of diagnostic and surveillance techniques to better identify, track and study the spread and impact of this destructive disease. Strategies to accelerate development, production and dissemination of resistant cassava material to at-risk farmers will also be tackled.

A major conclusion made at the workshop was that Cassava Brown Streak Disease is caused by at least two distinct species of viruses, transmitted plant to plant by whiteflies and also spread by planting virus-infected stem cuttings. It was agreed that the original virus species isolated from plants in coastal Mozambique will retain the name Cassava brown streak virus (CBSV), while the newly described virus species will be called ‘Cassava brown streak Uganda virus (CBSUV).

Obtain details of the workshop by emailing iltab@danforthcenter.org