Nematode resistant plantain for African subsistence growers.

Lead Research Organisation: University of Leeds
Department Name: Ctr for Plant Sciences

Abstract

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Technical Summary

The work is based on Agrobacterium-mediated introduction of genes to plantain by a novel technique of apical meristem transformation. This avoids slow regeneration of plants from single cells that may result in unwanted somaclonal variation. The approach has been developed by the co- applicant within Africa. Initial work will use constructs providing expression of a maize cysteine proteinase inhibitor already present in the food of Africans. It prevents nematodes from utilising their dietary protein without harmful effect on humans and controls a wide range of plant nematodes including those that damage plantain. Toxicological studies establish a margin of exposure is greater than 2000 fold when root specific promoters are used to deliver a cystatin. UK field trials have established no substantial adverse effect either on invertebrate associates of a potato crop above ground or on soil communities. The cysteine proteinase inhibitor will be stacked with a non-lethal, synthetic peptide that limits root invasion by nematodes. The work will also adapt other research for BBSRC that is expressing a double stranded RNA in plants. This results in the silencing of a gene that the nematode requires to survive or develop in plants. This effect was first reported in detail for a nematode and resulted in the award of the Nobel Prize for Medicine for the advance it provides. In the context of the current work, the lack of new protein expression in plants overcomes the concerns of expression of even biosafe, novel plant proteins in biotech crops. The levels of resistance required to prevent nematode mediated growth suppression of plantain that lead to yield loss will be determined. This and other information will be collated and permission sought for field trials in Uganda. All the objectives of the work combine to enhance the capacity for Uganda to develop biotech crops in country to meets its national needs and objectives.

Publications

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Description This was a supplement to the main grant entitled "Nematode resistant plantain for African subsistence growers" (BB/F004001/1). It provided training for four African scientists in support of progressing nematode resistant plantains and cooking bananas. Details of the personnel involved is given in the entry for BB/F004001/1
Exploitation Route The expertise developed in the main grant was transferred to African scientists in the training periods. It was evident from the project that there is a considerable need for such capacity building activities based around knowledge of what can be achieved with facilities available in home labs. Training has been expanded to include other scientists in the Ugandan National Agricultural Research Laboratories. This training was funded by the USA mission in Uganda. Much of it has been delivered by the PD on the main grant (BB/F004001/1).
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink

 
Description This supplementary award was to provide training of African scientists to use the outputs of BB/F004001/1. To avoid duplication details are given in the entry for that main grant. Post-award presentations in Uganda on 19/09/2013 developed aspects of GM biosafety. The meeting for scientists and farmers was covered by the press in Uganda. At a second meeting on 2/09/2014 presentations were delivered on a) Biotechnology and Pest Resistance Breeding and b) Biotechnology product development and commercialization process. This led to an interview of the team by Ugandan Television in a news bulletin.
First Year Of Impact 2012
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink
Impact Types Societal

 
Description Biotechnology and Pest Resistance Breeding
Geographic Reach Africa 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact This seminar on 2/09/2014 to Biosafety regulators, researchers and other stakeholders in Africa on the uptake of GM crops with resistance to pests particularly nematodes. Thisis part of USAID ABSPII providing information to stakeholders on the benefits of banana biotechnology ahead of the case being made for their uptake in Uganda. Nematode resistance was developed with BBSRC funding including BB/F004001/1
 
Description Genetic Modification information for parliamentarians
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Gave evidence to a government review
URL http://www.scienceinparliament.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/sip67-1.pdf
 
Description RNAi technologies and the safety (bio-and food safety) concern, current situation analysis and the future
Geographic Reach Africa 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact This seminar on 20/09/2013 to researchers and other stake holders in Africa on the uptake of GM crops with resistance to pests based on RNAi technology. This was part of a seminar series run for the USAID ABSPII providing information on available technologies for pest control in banana. Nematode resistance with RNAi has been developed with BBSRC funding including BB/F004001/1
 
Description Regulation and biotechnology product development
Geographic Reach Africa 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact A seminar was provided in Kampala on 3/09/2014 to Biosafety regulators, researchers and other stakeholders in the uptake of GM crops. It is part of USAID ABSPII's wish to inform Uganda of the needs for early and biosafe uptake of transgenic banana for food security in that country. A document based on the seminar will be provides to the Uganda partners (NARL) in early 2015 for use in their interactions with the National Biosafety Committee of Uganda.