Biotech Updates

Fighting to Save the 'Tree of Life'

September 24, 2010

The lethal decline disease caused by phytoplasma bacteria is a devastating disease of the "tree of life",  the coconut – an important source of livelihood for many resource-poor farmers in the developing world. Recently, an in-field DNA extraction test kit for the phytoplasma was developed by the University of Nottingham under a grant of the Leverhulme Trust and the Royal Society.

Dr. Matthew Dickinson, the team leader from Nottingham University and Associate Professor in Molecular Plant Pathology, said that the kit  is a quick and efficient tool in the field, and worked well in their recent testing in Ghana. It could be used in many coconut growing regions of Africa where replanting can be managed to reduce further spread of the disease, after a few more refinements.

"This research will make a real difference to the communities in Africa who rely on coconut for their livelihood and subsistence. It will also provide African scientists with technologies that will help improve on current strategies for managing the disease", said Ndede Yankey, a member of the research team from Ghana and a PhD student at the University of Nottingham.

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