Dr Moritz Bömer
Speaker: Dr Moritz Bömer, Research Fellow at the Natural Resources Institute, University of Greenwich
Diagnostic toolkits for yam virus diseases
Yam (Dioscorea spp.) is an important staple food and plays an essential role in food security and income generation for small-holder farmers, particularly in West Africa. Yams are generally propagated vegetatively through their tubers, which leads to perpetuation and accumulation of tuber-borne pathogens, particularly viruses. There is an urgent need to develop on-farm diagnostic kits for yam viral diseases to verify that distributed planting material is virus-free to control the spread of these viruses. In addition to the normal virus infection process, some badnavirus species are integrated into the host genome and could potentially be ‘activatable’, i.e. able to replicate and initiate virus infections de novo. At the Natural Resources Institute (NRI), we use next-generation sequencing (NGS) and classic molecular tools for virus discovery and characterisation and our aim is to develop rapid, specific and sensitive diagnostic assays for yam viruses.