IITA scientist presents to IARSAF members
There is no substitute for self-motivation. No one can put success in your pocket,” IITA Virologist Lava Kumar said at the IARSAF journal club, held 10 June, at IITA, Ibadan, where he chronicled his graduate research experience and advised the student researchers to remain zealous in their academic pursuits.
Kumar’s presentation, titled “Chasing unknown viruses─recounting the mystery of the pigeon pea Sterility Mosaic Disease”, based on two journal articles of his past work, gave members of the International Association of Research Scholars and Fellows (IARSAF) an overview of his groundbreaking PhD research, which identified the elusive and destructive Pigeonpea Sterility Mosaic Virus (PPSMV) and how that work shaped his future career.
According to Kumar, the Sterility Mosaic Disease (SMD), for a long time, was a mysterious disease that significantly affected the pigeon pea crop in Asia. Affected plants remained green but did not fruit, earning the disease the nickname ‘the Green Plague’. In 1993, India and Nepal suffered an estimated $282 million loss from SMD. Kumar’s PhD research, conducted at ICRISAT and the Scottish Crop Research Institute (SCRI; presently James Hutton Institute) resulted in the identification of the SMD causal agent, a novel virus with an unusual combination of properties. Identifying the virus, named PPSMV, was significant in finding sustainable solutions to SMD, even winning the prestigious CIGAR Young Scientist Award in 2004 for overall contribution to the control of SMD and pigeonpea improvement. Its discovery remains important in the understanding of several eriophyid mite-transmitted diseases of undefined etiology.
Kumar is the first scientist to present at the IARSAF monthly journal club, an event where graduate students review and discuss publications authored by IITA scientists. At the close of his presentation, Kumar encouraged the graduate students to stay focused, be innovative, and above all remain self-motivated.