Under the agreement the Danforth Center will be able to use a promoter, or DNA regulatory element, that permits disease resistance genes to be introduced and function in the cassava plant thereby blocking viral replication. The agreement with Dow AgroSciences allows an important addition to the crop improvement tools already in place at the Danforth Center. The laboratory of Dr. Claude Fauquet at the Center is developing the disease resistance technology, which is targeted at reducing the impact of Cassava Mosaic Disease (CMD) and Cassava Brown Streak Disease (CBSD). Center Scientists are working with African partners to improve, evaluate, and eventually deploy cassava varieties that will greatly reduce these losses and enhance food security.
Along with the completion of the cassava genome sequence, many pieces are coming together that will contribute to fulfilling the Center’s mission of enhancing food security for millions of malnourished people living in developing countries. The research collaboration on cassava between the Danforth Center and Dow AgroSciences began in early 2010.
“Dow AgroSciences is pleased to be able to provide the technology to the Danforth Center so that this important humanitarian work can proceed toward commercial development,”
Cassava serves as the primary food source for more than 750 million people each day and is an important source of local income for small farmers across much of Africa, Asia and Latin America but the plant is susceptible to a number of pathogens. This is particularly the case in Africa, where one third of the continental harvest is lost each year to CMD alone. CBSD is considered to be among the most dangerous plant diseases in the world for the impact it can have on food and economic security throughout Africa. In the Lake Victoria area, more than 7 million people are at risk of famine each year because of plant disease threats. The enormous urgency posed by these viruses demands that appropriate tools be applied to solve the problem.
“We are very grateful to Dow AgroSciences for permitting us to use this very important tool to better enable our cassava improvement efforts and deliver the best solutions possible for the benefit of people who need it most,” said Dr. Paul Anderson, executive director of international programs at the Danforth Center.
About The Donald Danforth Plant Science Center
Founded in 1998, the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center is a not-for-profit research institute with a mission to improve the human condition through plant science. Research at the Danforth Center will feed the hungry and improve human health, preserve and renew the environment, and enhance the St. Louis region and Missouri as a world center for plant science. The Center’s work is funded through competitive grants and contract revenue from many sources, including the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Energy, National Science Foundation, U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Agency for International Development and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. For more information please visit www.danforthcenter.org
About Dow AgroSciences
Dow AgroSciences, based in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA, is a top-tier agricultural company providing innovative agrochemical and biotechnology solutions globally. The company, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Dow Chemical Company, has sales of $4.9 billion. Learn more at www.dowagro.com. Follow Dow AgroSciences on Facebook and YouTube or subscribe to our News Release RSS Feed .
About The Scripps Research Institute
The Scripps Research Institute is one of the world's largest independent, non-profit biomedical research organizations. Scripps Research is internationally recognized for its discoveries in immunology, molecular and cellular biology, chemistry, neuroscience, and vaccine development, as well as for its insights into autoimmune, cardiovascular, and infectious disease. Headquartered in La Jolla, California, the institute also includes a campus in Jupiter, Florida, where scientists focus on drug discovery and technology development in addition to basic biomedical science. Scripps Research currently employs about 3,000 scientists, staff, postdoctoral fellows, and graduate students on its two campuses. The institute's graduate program, which awards Ph.D. degrees in biology and chemistry, is ranked among the top ten such programs in the nation. For more information, see www.scripps.edu.