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CIRAD (France)

Hana Chair

Scientist, CIRAD




The primary focus of my research is the application of genetics to the conservation of root and tuber crop diversity, and how evolutionary forces of human and environmental impacts shape this diversioty. In this project, I will be in charge of the development of SNP markers and the identification of the QTLs involved in corm quality.

Marie France Duval

Scientist, CIRAD-BIOS,




My interest is genetic diversity, and I have been working on various tropical plants (pineapple, mango, vanilla.).  In 2006, I joined the Root & Tubers team in CIAR. In the Edible Aroid project I will coordinate WP4 and work on taro diversity – fingerprinting of elite cultivars and hybrids.

CIRAD (Vanuatu)

Vincent Lebot

Plant Breeder/Geneticist,

Port Vila



I have been working on tropical root and tuber crops - breeding and genetics – for 30 years. In the late 80s, I used isozymes to screen more than 1,400 cultivars and wild forms of taro collected from Asia and Oceania. It was obvious that they had a narrow genetic base and that international exchange of genotypes would strengthen taro-breeding programmes. Later, in the late 90s, thanks to a grant from the EU, colleagues in Asia and the Pacific, developed TANSAO (Taro Network for South East Asia and Oceania), based on the safe exchange of selected taros. Since then, I have been evaluating crosses between Asia and Oceania genotypes, and the results are very encouraging.

Bioversity International

Danny Hunter 
Senior Scientist, Diversity for Livelihoods Programme

Bioversity International
Via dei Tre Denari, 472/a
00057 Maccarese
Rome, Italy

I have worked with many colleagues (now on this network) in the Pacific on taro since the outbreak of taro leaf blight in Samoa in the early '90s. At that time, I was involved with a group based in Samoa breeding for disease resistance. We initiated a participatory evaluation programme (TIP - Taro Improvement Programme) that continues to this day, working with farmers all over Samoa. We also tried other interesting approaches including setting up a University Breeders’ Club, involving students and staff, along the lines of those described in Raoul Robinson's book Return to Resistance. If nothing else, it can be a great teaching approach. They were great days, and I miss them a lot.

Through the new project I hope we can explore ways to scale up the participatory approaches developed in the Pacific, and elsewhere, so that improved taro can get to farmers quickly, and where it is needed most.

Here at Bioversity International I continue to work on in situ and on farm conservation.


Grahame Jackson

24 Alt Street,
Queens Park

NSW 2022



I started in Solomon Islands in 1972, working on lethal taro viruses and crossing wild (from Thailand) and local varieties to improve TLB resistance - controversial as it was thought to involve a single dominant gene – later disproved. After a decade, I moved to Fiji to work, first with FAO and then SPC, in all Pacific island countries. I set up a lab to move crops as tissue cultures – a lab now hugely expanded by SPC. When TLB struck Samoa in 1993, I helped put together a regional program (and became its Research Director for several years) to collect germplasm, breed taro for resistance to TLB, and to share the results safely. By then we knew where to go to get resistant cultivars rather than relying on wild varieties. More recently, I made short visits over 11 years to Sikkim in the Himalayas to research ginger diseases and backstop PTD programs with farmers. And I have teamed up with Mary Taylor and Vincent Lebot, to help with this taro global network – doing ‘communication and visibility’