12/06/14

The hunt for maize to resist a fatal East African virus

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In 2011, a new maize disease was identified in East Africa. The viral disease, maize lethal necrosis (MLN), has devastated crop yields in those areas in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania where it was first detected. In parts of Kenya, farmers have lost ‘their entire’ harvest.
 
In response to the threat this virulent disease poses to food security in East Africa, the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, in collaboration with the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute, has opened a research facility in Naivasha, Kenya, to find varieties of maize resistant to MLN. The facility opened in September 2013 and, this March, the first varieties of maize were inoculated with the disease. The initial results have given hope that new hybrid varieties can be created that will be resistant to MLN.