CASS project brings world renowned physiologists to IITA
The Cassava Source-Sink (CASS) project team held a Mini Symposium at IITA, Ibadan, on 27 September, to apply modern plant physiology and molecular biology, so as to better understand different metabolic behavior in improving the root yield of cassava.
Themed “Application of advanced technologies for crop yield improvement”, the Mini Symposium aimed at promoting knowledge exchange and interaction between basic and applied researchers to accelerate the pace of crop improvement in Africa. It featured world leading plant physiologists, database and high-throughput phenotyping specialist from Germany, Switzerland, and the United States who gave lectures in their different fields of expertise to broaden the range of scientists involved in the project across IITA. More than 120 researchers attended the symposium.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Robert Asiedu, Director, Research for Development, IITA-West Africa, gave a brief synopsis of cassava in relation to the CASS project. “Cassava, for a long time has prevented poverty and hunger in West Africa. It is a real potent weapon, but there are challenges to it now, and unless the crop is improved dramatically, the battle will not be won, hence the CASS project,” Asiedu said.
Lukas Mueller, from Boyce Thompson Institute, USA, expressed his excitement about the symposium and facilitated a discussion on the importance of breeding databases for modern breeding applications. “I am really excited about this symposium; it is an excellent opportunity to reach a wider audience. It has enabled me to transfer knowledge on cassavabase and the role of databases in advanced plant breeding.”
CASS brings together breeders, plant scientists and computer experts to combine progress in each field with the common goal of improving plant productivity and securing future food supply for a growing world population. So far, cassava has not significantly benefited from
major advances in modern plant biochemistry and physiology. A better understanding of cassava physiology and biochemistry, however, will be essential to achieve sustainable increases in cassava yield and will be critical for ensuring sufficient food supply in sub-Saharan Africa.