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Crop Biotech Update

New Genotyping Technology to Boost Africa's Wheat Breeding Programs

August 18, 2021

The Kompetetive Allele Specific PCR (KASP) is a fast and user-friendly genotyping technology that uses fluorescent assay to identify differences in DNA sequences. This technology is among the new research developments that can increase the potential of East Africa to produce new wheat varieties that are more suitable to its environmental conditions and likewise improve wheat production and reduce the region's dependence on imports.

KASP works by genotyping DNA polymorphisms between individuals of the same species, whether in the form of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) or small insertions or deletions (indels) between DNA sequences of individuals. It offers a quick, affordable, and flexible marker system method for genotyping a selected number of SNPs across a large subset of plants, and is able to facilitate the introduction of genes with known economically important effects through marker-assisted selection that can help East African breeders. To date, KASP has been used in the research of a number of crops such as wheat, soybeans, maize, and cassava in the Biosciences eastern and central Africa-International Livestock Research Institute (BecA-ILRI) Hub in Kenya.

Using the KASP in Africa is said to enable local breeding programs to develop improved crop varieties, particularly in changing the perception of wheat research in Africa. This will also allow African breeders to take a step further from generating a vast amount of sequence information to having convenient low-cost diagnostic molecular marker tools to use for their breeding programs. The knowledge generated from African-led studies using KASP will allow the opportunity to deliver African-focused breeding outputs.

Learn more about KASP from the John Innes Centre.

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