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Latest News

Newsletter Launched

September 2014 sees the first of our newsletter. Take a look and let us know what you think.
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Regions - hot topics!

Stephen visits DR Congo

Central America & Caribbean
Anton goes to Cuba
Francisco's fingerprint offer

Virus research into vectors

IHC Conference Brisbane





Library News  

Library News

September 2014 - Issue No. 1  

Welcome to the Edible Aroids Newsletter

Vincent Lebot, Technical Coordinator writes ...

Our network is now well established and internationally recognised. In only 3 years, we have demonstrated the efficiency of our approach. Although aroids were "orphans" of the international community, they are not anymore. INEA exists and is already having an impact in participating countries and in farmers' fields. Genetic base broadening has been achieved successfully. Some countries are now breeding and generating hundreds of hybrids, combining useful traits between local and introduced varieties.

For many countries, INEA could not have come at a more opportune time. The taro leaf blight epidemic continues to have a devastating impact in Africa, but, fortunately, through our germplasm sharing activities our partners are now propagating tolerant varieties for distribution to farmers.

In addition, through its research, INEA is improving our knowledge of taro and cocoyam. Results are now finding their way into papers of international journals and into presentations at conferences and congresses, another form of sharing.

Montpellier group

In only 3 years, we have demonstrate the efficiency of our approach ...

Sharing is the basis of INEA. And this is the aim of our Newsletter, to share our information in a form readily accessible to the widest audience. It is therefore my great pleasure to take this opportunity to invite you all involved in research on Edible Aroids to use this platform to share your work and achievements.


Networking works - fingerprinting Xanthosoma collections

An offer from Francisco Saborio, University of Costa Rica, to fingerprint accessions of Xanthosoma was sent on 14 August 2014 and has already had two replies. The SSR (simple sequence repeats) molecular markers developed by Hanna Chair and others at CIRAD are now with Francisco and are ready to be used for DNA analyses. Contact Francisco for more information. The protocol for sending Xanthosoma leaves is the same as for taro. 



Breeding is gathering pace

Two countries, Cuba and Samoa, have already responded to Anton Ivancic’s (University of Maribor) offer of help with taro breeding programmes. In the first week of September he went to Cuba where he will be holding workshops on Xanthosoma hybridisation. Cuba has one of the best Xanthosoma collections in the world, and is keen to use it for varietal improvement. The next Newsletter will report on the visit. 



Calling all eddoes

We must not forget the importance of eddoes in countries with dry climates, or where climates are forecast to become drier. This was discussed at the Montpellier meeting, and a recommendation made to share accessions between the partners through SPC. Countries said that they like the way that SPC has sent taro plantlets in the past, as pathogen-tested tissue cultures in tubes or plastic pouches accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate.



From our reporter in the DR Congo

Just back from another visit to eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, near the border with Rwanda, our intrepid virologist, Stephan Winter, reports on the taro situation there. If you recall, Stephen was keen to send INEA taro to DR Congo for two reasons. First, major, major, diseases are affecting banana (bacterial wilt) and maize (necrosis virus) and food security is a real issue; and secondly, taro itself is under threat from taro leaf blight.



International Horticultural Conference in Brisbane

The 29th IHC was held in Brisbane between 17-24 August 2014. There were several papers on taro, including a key note presentation by Vincent Lebot. A list of the papers can be found here, and downloaded; they are also in the Library section of the website. If you want a copy of Vincent's PowerPoint presentation you can download it by clicking on the image on the left. Be careful, it is 2mb, but worth it!



Viruses and vectors

It has been difficult to find out what causes alomae the lethal disease of taro in Solomon Islands - literal meaning “taro dies”. Customary belief has it that evil spirits curse the taro. There are at least five viruses that infect taro in Solomon Islands, maybe six, but they can't all be involved in causing alomae! So, Stephen and Marion wanted one of the likely vectors, the delphacid Tarophagus, to see if they can find plant viruses inside it. 



Partners' progress

Some partners have sent reports on their activities since the December Montpellier meeting; here is a brief summary.
Indonesia - bulking of accessions for distribution is going ahead well, and some have already been supplied to selected villages. It is hoped that the SMTA will be signed soon so that cultivars tolerant to low rainfall can be sent to Portugal for testing. Similarly, the SMTA needs to be signed before samples are sent to DSMZ, Germany for virus testing.


INEA is led by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Fiji, and the Centre de Cooporation Internationale en Recherche Agronomique pour le Developpement (CIRAD), France and Vanuatu. The project is made possible by a generous EU grant of €3 million.