Poster Presentation Science Protecting Plant Health 2017

Molecular characterization of viruses infecting taro in East Africa (#222)

Dawit Mr. Kidanemariam 1 , Amit Mr. Sukal 1 , Adane Dr. Abraham 2 , Francesca Dr. Stomeo 3 , James Prof. Dal 1 , Anthony Dr. James 1 , Rob Prof. Harding 1
  1. Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, QUEENSLAND, Australia
  2. College of Biological and Chemical Engineering, Addis Ababa Science and Technology University, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
  3. Biosciences for east and central Africa, International Livestock Research Institute, Nairobi, Kenya

Taro (Colocasia esculenta L.) is a widely cultivated edible member of the Araceae family. It is one of the staple food crops in sub-Saharan Africa, with both the foliage and corms utilised as a food source. Despite its substantial contribution to the food and income security for many small-scale farmers in east Africa, the average yields are below the potential of the crop due to various factors including diminishing soil fertility, lack of improved varieties and the presence of pests and diseases. Viruses are known to be one of the most important constraints to taro production, and can cause severe yield reduction. Since the production of taro in east Africa has declined significantly over time, the identification of viruses affecting taro in the region has become a research priority. Leaf samples were collected from major taro growing areas in Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda and nucleic acid was extracted. Initially, samples were screened for different RNA and DNA viruses by PCR using published virus-specific and/or degenerate primers. For RNA viruses, representative samples were also subjected to illumina MiSeq NGS sequencing and data validated using Sanger sequencing. For badnaviruses, the complete genome of representative samples was amplified using rolling circle amplification (RCA) and sequenced using a primer walking approach. To date, several viruses have been detected including Dasheen mosaic virus (DsMV), Taro bacilliform virus (TaBV) and Cucumber mosaic virus (CMV), with additional analysis ongoing. Results of the surveys and virus incidence/distribution will be discussed.