Virus-resistant cassava (and some software used to get there)

I’ve been very interested in plant genomics projects and it’s been great to see them yield so many interesting papers lately–most recently on the tomato genome and even more on corn analysis. As much as it’s fun to navel-gaze about the human genome for personal genomics, and it is important to get to medical treatments on human diseases–plant genomics projects can help huge numbers of people with basic nutrition. And these are not just the well-insured Westerners. I wish plant genomics was better funded and not under threat…alas.

So it’s nice to see some outreach on projects of this sort. My CLCBio newsletter linked to a nice story and video of the virus-resistant cassava project (VIRCA). Teams from the US and Africa are working on a plant that’s under major threat right now–but is a major source of food for smallholder farmers. This article at the NYT from a couple of years ago provides some background on that issue, and shows photos of the terrible result of a virus infection: Virus Ravages Cassava Plants in Africa. In the video you’ll note that they stress that this is not a project of corporate agriculture–it’s going to be freely available for farmers.

And they mention that they use the CLCBio software to help with that–rarely does anyone highlight the software in these projects, and that made me smile!

Watch the video for some nice views of what plant genomics projects look like, but be sure to check out the additional project details over at the CLCBio page. And if this doesn’t format right, you can watch the video over there too.