The Role of International Collaborations in Resolving Viral Diseases of Cassava in Africa
Date: October 29, 2021
Time: 9:00 – 11:00 AM EST or 1:00 – 3:00 PM UTC (this program will be recorded)
Location: Online via Zoom
Despite decades of work around the world to address cassava viral diseases, which are among the most devastating crop diseases in Africa, we are only just beginning to understand the complexity of the system. Continued international collaboration – and particularly robust inclusion of researchers on the continent, as well as sharing of data among labs around the world – will be critical to advance the research toward disease mitigation or prevention.
Meet the Speakers
Department of Biological Sciences, Delaware State University, USA
Vincent N Fondong, Ph.D., is a professor of biotechnology at Delaware State University. His research interests are in molecular biology of plant viruses and development of virus-resistant plants, with particular focus on geminiviruses and potyviruses, the two most devastating plant viruses worldwide. For over 25 years, he has studied the mechanisms of cassava mosaic geminivirus infection, and interactions between different geminiviruses that infect cassava. His early work was identifying factors driving the severe cassava mosaic disease (CMD) pandemic that occurred in Africa in the 1990s. This involved collecting samples from cassava plantings in Africa and analyzing in his lab at Delaware State University. His most recent research efforts are on developing resistance to cassava geminiviruses and potato virus Y, using the RNA silencing technology. The pathway employed is the trans-acting small interfering RNAs (tasiRNAs), where transgenic constructs containing syn-tasiRNA (21mers) from viral sequences are used to confer viral resistance
Rebecca Adler Miserendino
Dr. Rebecca Adler Miserendino is a public health and environmental scientist with over a decade of professional experience in both academic research and international policy. As the leader of both the environment and international teams at Lewis-Burke, Rebecca advises scientific society and university clients to: (1) understand the impact of international policy issues on scientific research; (2) identify international and domestic budget and policy trends; (3) develop strategies to take advantage of emerging opportunities relevant to both scientific research and sustainable development. In this role, she has been active member of the USA Nagoya Protocol Action Group on behalf of her clients. From 2013 to 2020, Rebecca served as a Senior Adviser, Foreign Affairs Officer, and Physical Scientist at the U.S. Department of State (DOS) in the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs. In this capacity, she negotiated on behalf of the United States and advised senior U.S. officials on a variety of crosscutting matters to advance U.S. global environment, climate, and health priorities.
WAVE Regional Center of Excellence for Transboundary Plant Pathogens, Université Félix Houphouët-Boigny, Côte d’Ivoire
Professor Justin Pita is the Executive Director of the Central and West African Virus Epidemiology (WAVE) for food security. He is an associate professor at Université Félix Houphouët-Boigny (Côte d’Ivoire) and an adjunct faculty at the Department of Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology in the College of Agricultural Sciences of the Pennsylvania State University (USA). Justin Pita also serves as a member of the Steering Committee of African Women in Agriculture Research and Development (AWARD), a gender-responsive agricultural innovation program. He has led the creation of WAVE in West and Central Africa and has raised more than sixteen billion CFA francs to implement the Program in 10 countries (Sierra Leone, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Cameroon, Gabon, and DRC), all of which have developed and endorsed national response plans against cassava viral diseases. WAVE has become an ECOWAS Regional Center of Excellence (RCE-WAVE) for Transboundary Plant Pathogens inaugurated in May 2021. WAVE works closely with CORAF, ECCAS and the governments of ten Central and West African countries.
View the recording of the workshop.
** Please note the closed captioning and transcription were computer generated. There may be some discrepancies.