Cassava (Manihot esculenta Crantz) is an important starchy food crop in the tropics and subtropics. Our cassava projects focus on genetic cassava transformation, gene and promoter discovery, sustainable disease resistance and quality improvement. Several routine biotechnology tools for this recalcitrant tropical crop have been established at ETH Zurich, including somatic embryogenesis, transformation system with Agrobacterium and particle bombardment.
We dedicate our research to produce transgenic cassava with elevated resistance to cassava mosaic disease (CMD) and cassava brown streak disease (CBSD) as well as to cassava bacterial blight (CBB). We also apply transgenic approaches to increase vitamin content in cassava and to improve post-harvest storage of cassava roots. The cassava research team also applies cutting-edge "OMICS" technologies to investigate several fundamental aspects of cassava biology and stress responses (i.e. root development, response to virus infection, response to drought, post-harvest physiological deterioration).
By collaborating with international and national institutions, e.g. University of the Witwatersrand (Johannesburg, South Africa), BeCA (Nairobi, Kenya), MARI (Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania), SIBS/SCCB (Shanghai, China), CIAT (Cali, Columbia), IITA (Ibadan, Nigeria), Federal University of Ceará (Fortaleza, Brazil), LIPI (Bogor, Indonesia), IAS (Hanoi, Vietnam), we help transferring crop technologies to regions where it is currently needed.
We envision responsible and sustainable partnership between Western laboratories and institutions located in the tropics for the benefit of cassava farmers.