Knowledge for a sustainable world

Bsc, PhD

Dr Goncalo Silva completed his Biotechnological Engineering degree at the University of Algarve, Faro, Portugal in 2004. Dr Silva has initiated his career in scientific research in 2005 at the University of Algarve, Portugal, working as a Research Assistant on a project about the Evolution and Molecular Epidemiology of Citrus tristeza virus (a plant virus). In January 2008, he was granted a scholarship by Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (Portugal) to carry out his PhD research at the Plant Molecular Virology Group of BioFig, University of Algarve. During 4 years, Dr Silva proceeded is research on the Phylodynamics of Citrus tristeza virus. In August 2013, Dr Silva joined the Natural Resources Institute, University of Greenwich, as a Research Fellow on a project that aims the development of a low cost on-farm robust diagnostic toolkit for Yam viruses.

Keywords: Molecular Epidemiology, Molecular Biology, Plant Virology, Diagnostic, Yam Viruses

Goncalo Silva is currently committed on the development of on-farm diagnostic kits for yam viral diseases. Yams are an important food crop in many tropical and sub-tropical countries, particularly in West Africa. Yams are propagated vegetatively through their tubers which lead to an accumulation of tuber-borne diseases being the ones caused by viral pathogens the most economically important. As so, the development of on-farm diagnostic tool kits will allow a rapid and efficient detection of viral diseases helping make decisions on the health status of yam planting material.

Development of On-Farm Robust Diagnostic Toolkits for Yam Virus Diseases

The goal of this project is to develop sensitive and specific cost-effective diagnostic tests for the most important African yam viruses and then adapt these tests to be suitable for on-farm virus-indexing. Due to the presence of integrated pararetrovirus sequences (EPRVs) in some yam breeding line genomes it is also necessary to identify which lines contain activatable EPRV sequences, and identify diagnostic procedures for these EPRVs. The diagnostic toolkits and procedures developed will be suitable for use in West African indexing centres and this will lead to the delivery of high quality virus-free planting material of preferred yam varieties for multiplication and distribution to yam smallholders in West Africa. This will lead to improved food security and income generation for smallholders in West Africa.

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