NextGen Cassava Breeding Project conducts three workshops on Database, Digital Phenotyping, and Experimental Design
The NextGen Cassava Breeding Project conducted a series of training workshops on the use of the breeding database, PhenoApps, and Experimental Design. The three workshops were held at IITA, Ibadan on 13, 17, and 18 March. The cassavabase workshop was facilitated by four cassavabase developers led by Lukas Mueller from the Boyce Thompson Institute, Cornell University and was attended by 15 breeders and researchers from IITA, the National Root Crops Research Institute, Umudike, Nigeria (NRCRI); the Africa Research Institute, Tanzania; the Boyce Thompson Institute, Cornell; and EMBRAPA, Brazil. The users familiarized themselves with key aspects of the breeding database tools including search, visualization, upload, and download of data. The workshop participants were also trained on different analysis tools available in the open-access database including the use of Genomic Selection.
The PhenoApp workshop was held on 17-18 March. PhenoApps are a suite of free, open-source Android apps designed for breeders to accurately and efficiently capture and analyze phenotypic data. The workshop was facilitated by Prof Michael Gore from Cornell and his team, and was attended by 35 participants from IITA; NRCRI, Umudike; NaCRRI, Uganda; Bayero University, Kano; the National Horticulture Research Institute (NIHORT); the Africa Research Institute, Tanzania; the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD); and Makerere University Uganda. All registered participants went away with smartphones/tablets for use in their respective breeding programs.
The training included practical field sessions on software-based whitefly counting, measurement of storage root size and geometry, estimation of root deterioration, and the FieldBook app for collecting field evaluation data. Equipping the trainees with these tools and a tablet/smartphone each is expected to greatly improve the effectiveness of data management, reduce researcher workload and error as well as contribute to having high-quality phenotypic data. All these are in turn expected to lead to higher genetic gains in breeding programs.
The third workshop on Experimental Design and Analysis, also held on 13 and 17 March, was conducted by Prof Jean-Luc Jannink and Ani Elias from Cornell University and attended by 29 trainees from IITA; NRCRI, Umudike; NACRI, Uganda; ARI, Tanzania; and the Lake Zone Agricultural Research and Development Institute, Tanzania (LZARDI). The trainees were empowered to design efficient field trials using free programs implemented in the R statistical language. Novel analyses such as spatial autocorrelation to account for field variability were taught.
These workshops were oversubscribed and the organizers are considering repeats on a regular basis.