Wetenschap - 6 juni 1996

Genetic modification procedure developed for cassava

Genetic modification procedure developed for cassava

The development of a routine procedure for the transformation of genetic features in one genotype of cassava, will also be possible in other genotypes. This is the outcome of PhD research conducted by Indonesian Eri Sofiari at the Department of Plant Breeding. Tuesday May 28, Sofiari defended his thesis Regeneration and transformation of cassava. Sofiari's research is a major contribution towards the establishment of more efficient ways of cassava breeding.

Throughout the world cassava is an important food crop for farmers. Cassava supplements other local staple foods and is an important substitute when other crops fail. Demand for cassava from agribusiness is on the increase. Cassava is used for animal feed and in starch based industries.

Expansion of the production of cassava has been restricted for several reasons. Relatively low yields, the crop's susceptibility to pests and diseases and the presence of cyanide in the crop, which is toxic to human beings, are major disadvantages. Furthermore, the crop is often regarded as a poor man's crop and therefore few research efforts have been directed towards the improvement of cassava.

Propagation of cassava is done vegetatively and traditional breeding methods are very time consuming. Genetic modification, by which genes of interest can be transferred to cassava, opens up possibilities to add or alter traits, which are difficult to achieve using traditional breeding methods.

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