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world congress  Root & Tuber Crops china

The World Congress will be held in Naning, Guangxi, China, 5-10 October 2015
Read more


Taro a host of banana wilt?
A1 or A2 taro blight strains
Central America
Europe: Viruses / Drought
Oceania: Breeding cocoyam
All: Partners' progress




Library News  

Library News

March 2015 - Issue No.3  

Welcome to the Edible Aroids Newsletter

INEA meets in Vanuatu

Nearly all INEA partners made it to Santo, Vanuatu, for the third meeting of the Network. For some it was a long, long journey, but for all it was well worth it. It was a great three days!

Two days were spent sharing progress reports, going over the recommendations of the last meeting, making new ones, and planning the work for the next year.

For most countries, the work has entered a challenging phase. Introductions from SPC have been received, comparisons made with local varieties, and selections given to farmers. The press release is here.

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Now the INEA model will be put to the test: can we provide farmers with acceptable new varieties that provide resilience to changing climates and commercial needs?

On the third day there were practicals on taro and cocoyam breeding, demonstrations with kits to detect one of the common taro viruses, and visits to Vanuatu’s root crops research centre. And in the evening, there were tastes of traditional foods, including laplap, a baked root crop pudding, and, for those brave enough, a trip to a kava bar, for a taste of the sedating, but non-alcoholic, national drink.


Taro, a non-host for the deadly banana wilt bacterium

In the first issue of the Newsletter, we reported that Stephan Winter, project virologist at DSMZ, had taken SPC taro to DR Congo. Stephan often visits North Kivu Province near where the borders of DR Congo, Uganda and Rwanda meet. We asked Stephan to keep an eye open for taro leaf blight. What he found was potentially far worse. 


How drought tolerant is taro?

Recently, the University of Madeira presented its results on developing ways to screen taro for drought tolerance. This was done at an international symposium entitled: Agriculture and Climate Change – Adapting crops to Increased Uncertainly, in Amsterdam, 15-17 February, this year. The following is a précis of the presentation.


Is the 45-year search for the cause of Alomae nearing an end?

It was about 1970 when virus particles were first found in sap from Alomae and Bobone plants – the severe taro diseases common in Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea. Ray Kenton of Rothamsted Experimental Station, looked at sap under the electron microscope from samples sent by David Gollifer from Dala Research Station on the islands of Malaita. The thoughts a that time was that Alomae ...

P col  

Taro leaf blight - A1 or A2?

The outbreak of taro leaf blight in West Africa in 2010 brought home the terrible devastation that this oomycete disease can cause. Until this outbreak taro leaf blight was not present on the continent of Africa, although it has been in Mauritius for some 30 years and in Madagascar for 10. There are two mating strains of this oomycete called A1 and A2. When these “mate” meiosis occurs and the result is an oospore (see diagram). When the oospore ...

Seed in bottles  

Sharing taro and cocoyam (Xanthosoma): plant versus seed

INEA was established to share. Sharing takes many forms. There is the sharing of ideas, methods, and the results of research, but there is also sharing of germplasm, whether that is plants or seed. The issues involved in sharing germplasm are complex, but were explored at the Vanuatu meeting.


Breeding cocoyam (Xanthosoma) in Vanuatu

There are 10 local varieties of Xanthosoma in Vanuatu. First, they were tested using the primers developed by CIRAD, and the results showed that they were very different genetically. This was good news, and on that basis a breeding programme started. Secondly, large numbers of each variety were planted to increase the chances that some would flower, they were planted under shade, and pollinations were made in the late afternoon.


Partners' progress

Here's a round-up of the work by the partners in the past years, and  the priorities for 2015.
Burkina Faso PHD candidate, Renan Traore, has defended his thesis on the diversity of taro in his home country compared to that of an international collection from INEA partners. He will now start to evaluate introductions from SPC.


Project extension?

SPC and the EU are in discussions about a possible extension of the project. This is an extension for one or two years without additional funds. The project administration is now handled by the EU Suva office so this has helped considerably with communication between the two organisations, and a decision on the extension is expect in the very near future.

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), Vanuatu. The project is made possible by a generous EU grant of €3 million.