The Molecular Virology and Entomology Research group undertakes strategic and applied research for controlling pests and diseases of tropical food crops especially those caused by viruses and insect vectors on cassava, sweet potato, yams and vegetables in many African and Asian countries. We develop and disseminate improved diagnostic tools for the rapid and efficient detection of plant pests and pathogens, understand complex plant-virus-vector interactions that will allow answering important epidemiological questions and undertake research to identify sustainable control measures. In our research, we employ both traditional and advanced technologies including identifying transgenic sources of resistance to crop pests, and discovering novel targets for virus and insect control by comparative genomics and transcriptomics. The current focus of our research includes:
- Research to generate an improved understanding of the factors contributing to the spread of cassava, yam and sweet potato virus disease epidemics in Africa and their control.
- Developing robust, low-cost laboratory and field diagnostic technologies for plant viruses and their vectors, focussing on root and tuber crop viruses (cassava, sweet potato and yam).
- Gaining insights into virus-host-vector interactions involving cassava mosaic viruses (Family Geminiviridae) and cassava brown streak viruses (Family Potyviridae) with their host cassava and common insect vector, Bemisia tabaci.
In support of our research activities, the Group is proactive in building public and private partnerships to promote the practical application of biotechnologies in Sub-Saharan Africa and their potential contribution to food security and sustainable agricultural production.