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Burkino Faso (Universite de Ouagadougou)  

Ernest Renan Traore
Lecturer, Laboratory of Genetic and Plant Biotechnology, 
University of Ouagadougou, 
Burkina Faso

Email: traoreernest@yahoo.fr


I am at the Laboratory of Genetic and Plant Biotechnology, University of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. I study genetic diversity of taro in Burkina Faso, a country of West Africa, and part of the Sahel.


Costa Rica (University of Costa Rica)

Francisco Saborio-Pozuelo
Agronomy Research Centre

University of Costa Rica

Costa Rica

Email: paco.saborio@yahoo.com


My name is Francisco Saborio-Pozuelo. I work at the Agronomy Research Centre, University of Costa Rica (www.cia.ucr.ac.cr). I obtained my PhD in 1996 in Canada in plant cell and molecular biology. 

The ARC has been working on roots and tubers since the mid ‘80s, initially on the production of virus-free plants of Xanthosoma and Colocasia and then on their micropropagation. We also have a program for the production of 'clean seed' for farmers. During the last 15 years we have been working on root rot disease on cocoyam, caused by Pythium myriotylum.


We have collected most of the cultivated varieties of Xanthosoma and some cultivated Colocasia in the country, and maintain a collection in the field and a copy in vitro.



Cuba (INIVIT) 

Marilys Diley Milián Jiménez,

Scientist, Laboratory of Genetics, Roots and Tuber Crops Research Institute (INIVIT)

Cuba

Email: mailysm@inivit.cu


I have been involved in research of edible aroids for about 20 years, mainly screening germplasm, characterization, evaluation and conventional breeding. My work on aroids aims to produce superior hybrids of Xanthosoma spp.



Ghana (CSIR)

Lawrence Misa Aboagye

Director, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research

Plant Genetic Resources Research Institute
Bunso, 
Ghana

E-Mail: aboagyelawrencemisa@yahoo.com


I have been working as a research scientist at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research-Plant Genetic Resources Research Institutive in Ghana for the past 15 years. I have participated in the collection, characterization, evaluation, documentation and conservation of root and tuber crops, including Xanthosoma and Colocasia. The Global Crop Diversity Trust gave a grant to put 75 accessions of cocoyam into tissue culture. All other accessions are being conserved in a field gene bank. I am looking forward for effective collaboration to solve the menace of Colocasia leaf blight, which is a major problem in Ghana.



Germany 

Stephan Winter,
Head, Plant Virus Department
German Collection of Microorganisms and Cell Cultures
Braunschweig
Germany

Email: Stephan.winter@jki.bund.de


At the GCMCC we work on virus diagnosis and produce plant diagnostic kits based on ELISA. We have a long experience with viruses of root and tubers, and besides a focus on cassava, sweet potato, yam and banana viruses, we have just started to look into virus infections of Amorphophallus and taro. I aim to have reference viruses and diagnostics for all viruses infecting these crops. I would like to invite everyone to send plants with suspected virus infections so that we can begin the work.


Marion Liebecht
Ph.D Student
German Collection of Microorganisms and Cell Cultures
Braunschweig
Germany
Email: Marion.Liebrecht@jki.bund.de

I have recently joined the GCMCC to work on virus characterisation. Previously, I was studying agribiology at the University of Hohenheim, Germany, specialising in plant virology. Not only will I be identifying and characterising viruses found in taro, but also developing diagnostic tests. I will be your contact at GCMCC, so please send taro and cocoyam that you suspect to be infected with viruses.


India (CTCRI) 

M. T. Sreekumari

Principal Scientist

Central Tuber Crops Research Institute, Sreekariyam

Thiruvananthapuram,
Kerala

Email: sree_jal@yahoo.com


I have been undertaking Institute research programmes in edible aroids for about 25 years, mainly cytological screening of the germplasm as well as production, evaluation and isolation of superior hybrids in taro and elephant foot yam through conventional breeding. One hybrid each in both the crops was released.


Samir Kanti Naskar 

Director, Central Tuber Crops Research Institute,

Thiruvananthapuram

Kerala

Email: ctcritvm@yahoo.com


I have been working on the management of genetic resources and the breeding of tropical root and tuber crops for the last 30 years. Currently, I am continuing my involvement with genetic resources research of root and tuber crops, and with the breeding of taro with resistance to taro leaf blight. I am also associated with the Asian Sweet Potato Genetic Resources Network and the global cassava partnership.


Archana  Mukherjee

Principal Scientist (Genetics and Cytogenetics)
Regional Centre of Central Tuber Crops Research Institute (RCCTCRI)
Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR)
Bhubaneswar
Odisha
Email: archanapsm2@rediffmail.com

I have 24 years experience in research, development and extension in root and tuber crops. During that time, I have been involved with 17 institution and six externally-funded projects as principal or co-principal investigator working in the conservation, propagation, characterisation and improvement of these crops. I have developed six sweet potato and five taro varieties for commercial cultivation, as well as supervising two Ph.D student and 33 Masters students in biotechnology. My publications record is 176 research papers, 40 general-technical articles and three book chapters.


Ukrishnan Unnikrishnan
Principal scientist
CTCRI
Sreekariyam
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM
Kerala
Email: ukrishnanmullath@gmail.com

I am a plant breeder with 38 years experience in plant science, 30 years exclusively on root and tuber crops at CTCRI (ICAR). My major contribution and interest is in germplasm conservation and genetic improvement. During those years, I have been involved in the release of 12 varieties of tuber crops: edible aroids (3), yams (2) and Cassava (7) - one of the cassave lines was the first to be released in India with resistance to Cassava mosaic virus. I have also developed protocols for in vitro conservation of tuber crops, including their wild species, and helped to develop the in vitro conservation facility at CTCRI, Trivandrum. Additionally, I have written more than 150 scientific publications. I retired from ICAR service in 2011, but still participate actively in the INEA project utilising the experience I gained from conducting many projects funded by ICAR and other agencies. 


J. Sreekumar
Senior Scientist
Central Tuber Crops Research Institute
Sreekariyam, Thiruvananthapuram
Kerala, India - 695 017
Email: sreejyothi_in@yahoo.com

Tuber Crops Research Institute, India. I have 15 years researchexperience in tuber crops as a biometrician. I have been involved in thedevelopment of a root and tuber crops germaplsm database at CTCRI, project workon genotype environment interaction studies, diversity analysis of taro, and,presently, I am involved in EST (expressed sequence tag) analysis, microarraydata analysis and RNA seq analysis.  


Indonesia (LIPI)

Made Prana

Research Centre for Biotechnology

LIPI

Jl.Raya Bogor Km 46, Cibinong, 
Bogor 16911

Indonesia

Email: msprana_bio@yahoo.com


I am a graduate of the Department of Plant Biology, Birmingham University, UK (1977). I had been working for the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) since 1971. My involvement in R&D in aroids (mainly taro) began in 1998 when the TANSAO Project was launched. My main interest has been in germplasm conservation, evaluation and utilization. I retired last year (2010) but the Centre allowed me to continue with the project. I look forward to exchanging ideas and experiences, and to collaborate with all of you.



Maria Imelda
Research Centre for Biotechnology, 

LIPI
Jl.Raya Bogor Km 46, Cibinong, 
Bogor 16911

Indonesia

Email: maria_tahardi@yahoo.com


I am Maria Imelda, and am working in the Laboratory of Plant Cell Biology and Tissue Culture at the Research Centre for Biotechnology of the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI). My research interest is in vitro propagation and conservation of tropical crops - banana, jack fruit, taro, etc. I was previously involved with the TANSAO Project during 1998-2001.


Kenya (Univeristy of Masinde Muliro) 

Valerie Palapala

Senior Lecturer (Applied Bioscientist),
Biological Sciences Department

Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology

Western Kenya

Email: valpalapala@gmail.com


I have been working on taro collection, agronomic evaluations and lately fingerprinting, for the last 6 years. Last year I began working on tannia.


Madagascar (FOFIFA)

Voahangy ANDRIANAVALONA
Centre National de Recherche Appliquée au Développement Rural
Antananarivo
Madagascar
I am an agronomist who has worked at the Centre National de Recherche Appliquée au Développement Rural (FOFIFA) in Antananarivo, Madagascar since 1997. I started in the cassava program along with a plant breeder and a plant pathologist. In 2005, I joined the Crop Wild Relatives Project, which focuses on the conservation of threatened wild species, especially yams through rapid multiplication. In 2010 I moved to a project funded by CFC whose purpose is to increase cassava production and to process it into high quality flour and other added value products. I have been involved in INEA since mid-2013.
 
Arsène RAKOTONDRAVAO
Centre National de Recherche Appliquée au Développement Rural
Antananarivo
Madagascar
I started at the Centre National de Recherche Appliquée au Développement Rural(FOFIFA) in Antananarivo, Madagascar in the coffee program in plant breeding and chemical characterization. My research focused on low caffein coffee varieties using local germplasm. I began the propagation of SPC introduced taro genotypes, their morpho-agronomical characterization and hybridisation in 2013.


Nicaragua (University of Nicaragua) 

Guillermo Reyes Castro
Lecturer, Universidad Nacional Agraria,

Nicaragua
Email: Guillermo.Reyes.Castro@una.edu.ni


I am a teacher and researcher at Universidad Nacional Agraria (UNA). I have been doing research in healthy plant production (DsMV-free plants), germplasm collection and evaluation, plant breeding (conventional and tissue culture approaches) and root rot disease control using organic amendments and biocontrol in cocoyam and taro. 


Taro has become the most important crop of all the root and tuber crops exported, but Phytophthora colocasiae, which is present in some areas in the country, remains a threat. I work with a team of six colleagues from UNA and collaborate with farmers and researchers of the National Institute of Technological Transfer.



Nigeria (NRCRI) 

Joseph Onyeka, 
Head, Plant Pathology

National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI)
Umudike, Umuahia
Nigeria

Email: jonyeka@yahoo.com


My institute holds the national mandate for research and development of root and tuber crops in Nigeria. Taro leaf blight of taro is now in West Africa and this is one of our main areas of work. In collaboration with colleagues in IITA, we have published the first report of this disease in Nigeria. I look forward to harnessing the wealth of experience of many members of this network in addressing this issue in our sub-region.



Egbichi N. Ada Mbanaso

National Root Crops Research Institute

Umudike, Umuahia
Nigeria

Email: embanaso@yahoo.com


I am Egbichi N Ada Mbanaso. I work at the National Root Crops Research Institute, Umudike, Nigeria. Our Institute has the national mandate for the genetic improvement of root and tuber crops in the nation. Nigeria is the world's leading producer of cassava, yam and cocoyam. I was the coordinator of the cocoyam programme of the Institute for over a decade. Several technologies have been developed to improve production and processing of both Xanthosoma and Colocasia. The major constraints to cocoyam improvement in Nigeria are the low genetic base and diseases that ravage the crop. Nevertheless, cocoyam is relished as a delicacy in many homes. At this time, my major interest is tissue culture and mutation breeding.


CK Nkere
Research Scientist
National Root Crops Research Institute
Umudike
Umuahia, Abia State 
Nigeria
Email: nkerechukwuemeka@yahoo.com

I am a microbiologist and my area of interest is in plant tissue culture, micropropagation and biosafety.


Charles Amadi

Plant Breeder and Geneticist 
National Root Crops Research Institute
Umudike
PMB 04, Vom
Jos Plateau State
Nigeria 
Email: okeyamadi2003@yahoo.com

I am a Plant breeder/Geneticist and part of my institute's research team on the taro project. I am in charge of the breeding aspects. 


Alfred O. Ubalua
Microbiologist/Biotechnologist
Head, Biotech.tissue culture laboratory
National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI)
Umudike, Umuahia, Abia State
Nigeria
Phone: + 2348035457833
Email: alfreduba@yahoo.com

I am a staff member of National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI) Umudike. My academic background is microbiology with specialisation in biotechnology. My research interests are: embryogenesis, genetic transformation of plants and microbiological studies.


Papua New Guinea (NARI) 
Birte Komolong, 

Principal Plant Pathologist, National Agricultural Research Institute

Bubia, Lae

Papua New Guinea

Email: birte.komolong@nari.org.pg


The PNG NARI was previously involved with the TAROGEN and TANSAO projects. It was one of the two countries – the other was Samoa - that bred taro for taro leaf blight resistance. PNG also collected taro varieties, characterized (morphological and molecular) them, and developed methods for conservation. I have been involved with the screening of varieties for taro leaf blight as well as the indexing taro for viruses using PCR based methods developed under TAROGEN. I will be working with Jeffrey Waki on this new project.



Jeffrey Waki,

Crop Improvement Scientist,
National Agricultural Research Institute

Bubia, Lae

Papua New Guinea

Email: jeffrey.waki@nari.org.pg


Taro improvement is one of the major projects of the Institute. Recently we have partnered with Bioversity International on a climate change project for taro and sweet potato.



Philippines (PhilRootCrops)

Dilberto Ferraren

Plant Breeder, Philippine Root Crop Research and Training Center (PhilRootcrops)

Leyte

Philippines

EmaIl: bertocaferr@yahoo.com


I am in charge of the National Taro Breeding Program (from which we have bred five varieties), as well as the germplasm collection. Demetrio V. Belmonte, Jr. is the Research Assistant. My latest training is on molecular biology and biotechnology, but field based (practical) breeding is still central to my work. I would like to do work in molecular genetics, particularly on viruses of aroids as they relates to non-aroid species.



Portugal (University of Madeira)

Miguel A.A. Pinheiro de Carvalho
Professor, University of Madeira

Madeira

Portugal

Email: quercus@uma.pt


I am Miguel A.A. Pinheiro de Carvalho, currently Professor at the University of Madeira, Portugal, and Coordinator of ISOPlexis GeneBank. I will take charge of WP5 of the project: drought evaluation. 


Our genebank has a collection of 2000 accessions of Madeiraean crop resources, including a field collection of about 50 accessions of local taro landraces. The main work of our research group is the evaluation of crop germplasm, aiming to identify morpho-agronomic traits that could be used for breeding proposes and/or for the promotion of local crop resources. Our work in INEA will be to collaborate with other partners to evaluate taro for drought tolerance, comparing the European genepool with germplasm from elsewhere.


Samoa (SPC/University of the South Pcific)

Moafanua Tolo Iosefa

Plant Breeder, University of the South Pacific

Alafua

Samoa

Email: Iosefa_t@samoa.usp.ac.fj

 
I am manager of the USP/SPC Taro Improvement Project (TIP) based in Samoa. This programme is a partnership between the University of the South Pacific and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, focusing on the screening of introduced taro varieties for TLB resistance, and breeding using participatory approaches. I work with farmers and extension workers from MAFF forming a TIP farmers club. The club screens and selects taro from each breeding cycle and recommends which ones go forward for further breeding. The elite selections from each breeding cycle stored in vitro in the SPC CePACT lab in Suva and the USP Tissue culture lab in Samoa. These lines are available for testing by other countries. The TIP project is a continuation of that started by the AusAID-funded TaroGen, and is supported by SPC CePACT in Suva and USP.



Slovenia (University of Maribor)

Janja Kristl

Section for Chemistry, Agrochemistry and Soil Science 

Faculty of Agriculture and Life Sciences

University of Maribor

Slovenia 

Email: janja.kristl@uni-mb.si


I am working at the University of Maribor, Faculty of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Section for Chemistry, Agrochemistry and Soil Science. The main field of my research is development of new analytical methods for investigation of plant materials and soil. Currently, my research is focused on laboratory analysis of quality parameters of various agricultural crops (e.g., carbohydrates, minerals, fatty acids, proteins, vitamins, pigments, salicylic acid, glutathione, antioxidants, tannins).



Anton Ivancic

Section for Botany and Genetics 

Faculty of Agriculture and Life Sciences

University of Maribor

Slovenia 

Email: anton.ivancic@uni-mb.si


I am working at the University of Maribor, Faculty of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Section for Botany and Genetics.  My research is associated with botany (floral structure, flowering biology, thermogenesis), genetics (qualitative and quantitative inheritance, interspecific hybridisation) and genetic breeding (maize, pumpkins, Phaseolus beans, aroids, temperate fruit trees). I have been working on various taro breeding programs since 1989 (Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Madagascar). 



South Africa 

Willem Jansen van Rensburg

Plant Breeder, Agricultural Research Council

Pretoria

South Africa

Email: wjvrensburg@arc.agric.za


I am plant breeder working with taro (or amadumbi in South Africa) and other indigenous and traditional vegetables. I am currently working on the diversity of taro establishing G&E interaction of selected lines in different environments. Taro is not a major staple in South Africa, but is produced in the sub-tropical and coastal areas.



Vanuatu (VARTC)

Marie Melteras
Manager, VARTC

Vanuatu

Email: m_melteras@vanuatu.com.vu


I am Marie Melteras. I have been involved with the food crops program in Vanuatu
Agriculture Research and Training Centre (VARTC) for over 10 years.  I used to
work with Dr Vincent Lebot on some of the food crop, which are part of the staples of the country. As manager of the research center, I would say that, it is a privilege for VARTC to be a partner of this project.


Roger Malapa

Root Crop Program

Vanuatu Agricultural Research and Technical Center

Luganville

Vanuatu

Email: nakavika@hotmail.com


I am Roger Malapa. I have been working as a researcher for the Vanuatu Agriculture Research and Training Centre since 2007 in the field of genetic resources. We have been making collections of root crops and especially, yams, taros, cocoyams, cassava and sweet potato. Our main objectives are the conservation of the genetic resources and their characterization for the selection of elite cultivars for distribution. My field of specialization is the improvement of yams, but I am also interest in aroids and especially cocoyam. Many crosses have been done with evaluations and selections still to be done. Our main constraint is the narrow genetic based of our collections. Hence the EdibleAroids network is an opportunity for me to learn what is happening in the other institutes and, if it is possible, to exchange genetic resources by means of botanical seeds. 


Tari Molisale
Root Crop Officer
Department of Agriculture
Vanuatu Agricultural Research and Technical Center 
Luganville
Vanuatu

Email:  tmolisale@vanuatu.gov.vu


Taro selecting and breeding has been my major task since 1998. I have also started training key farmers from other islands throughout Vanuatu on how to pollinate their own taros.