Publications by authors named "Geoffrey Okao-Okuja"

6 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Expansion of the cassava brown streak pandemic in Uganda revealed by annual field survey data for 2004 to 2017.

Sci Data 2019 12 18;6(1):327. Epub 2019 Dec 18.

Department of Plant Sciences, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom.

Cassava brown streak disease (CBSD) is currently the most devastating cassava disease in eastern, central and southern Africa affecting a staple crop for over 700 million people on the continent. A major outbreak of CBSD in 2004 near Kampala rapidly spread across Uganda. In the following years, similar CBSD outbreaks were noted in countries across eastern and central Africa, and now the disease poses a threat to West Africa including Nigeria - the biggest cassava producer in the world. A comprehensive dataset with 7,627 locations, annually and consistently sampled between 2004 and 2017 was collated from historic paper and electronic records stored in Uganda. The survey comprises multiple variables including data for incidence and symptom severity of CBSD and abundance of the whitefly vector (Bemisia tabaci). This dataset provides a unique basis to characterize the epidemiology and dynamics of CBSD spread in order to inform disease surveillance and management. We also describe methods used to integrate and verify extensive field records for surveys typical of emerging epidemics in subsistence crops.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41597-019-0334-9DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6920376PMC
December 2019

Tree Lab: Portable genomics for Early Detection of Plant Viruses and Pests in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Genes (Basel) 2019 08 21;10(9). Epub 2019 Aug 21.

Mikocheni Agricultural Research Institute (MARI), Dar es Salaam P.O. Box 6226, Tanzania.

In this case study we successfully teamed the PDQeX DNA purification technology developed by MicroGEM, New Zealand, with the MinION and MinIT mobile sequencing devices developed by Oxford Nanopore Technologies to produce an effective point-of-need field diagnostic system. The PDQeX extracts DNA using a cocktail of thermophilic proteinases and cell wall-degrading enzymes, thermo-responsive extractor cartridges and a temperature control unit. This closed system delivers purified DNA with no cross-contamination. The MinIT is a newly released data processing unit that converts MinION raw signal output into nucleotide base called data locally in real-time, removing the need for high-specification computers and large file transfers from the field. All three devices are battery powered with an exceptionally small footprint that facilitates transport and setup. To evaluate and validate capability of the system for unbiased pathogen identification by real-time sequencing in a farmer's field setting, we analysed samples collected from cassava plants grown by subsistence farmers in three sub-Sahara African countries (Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya). A range of viral pathogens, all with similar symptoms, greatly reduce yield or destroy cassava crops. Eight hundred (800) million people worldwide depend on cassava for food and yearly income, and viral diseases are a significant constraint to its production. Early pathogen detection at a molecular level has great potential to rescue crops within a single growing season by providing results that inform decisions on disease management, use of appropriate virus-resistant or replacement planting. This case study presented conditions of working in-field with limited or no access to mains power, laboratory infrastructure, Internet connectivity and highly variable ambient temperature. An additional challenge is that, generally, plant material contains inhibitors of downstream molecular processes making effective DNA purification critical. We successfully undertook real-time on-farm genome sequencing of samples collected from cassava plants on three farms, one in each country. Cassava mosaic begomoviruses were detected by sequencing leaf, stem, tuber and insect samples. The entire process, from arrival on farm to diagnosis, including sample collection, processing and provisional sequencing results was complete in under 3 h. The need for accurate, rapid and on-site diagnosis grows as globalized human activity accelerates. This technical breakthrough has applications that are relevant to human and animal health, environmental management and conservation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/genes10090632DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6769854PMC
August 2019

Resistance of advanced cassava breeding clones to infection by major viruses in Uganda.

Crop Prot 2019 Jan;115:104-112

Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, P.O. Box 62000-00200, Nairobi, Kenya.

Cassava brown streak disease (CBSD) and cassava mosaic disease (CMD) are two viral diseases that cause severe yield losses in cassava of up to 100%, thereby persistently threatening food and income security in sub-Saharan Africa. For effective management of these diseases, there is a critical need to develop and deploy varieties with dual resistance to CBSD and CMD. In this study, we determined the response of advanced breeding lines to field infection by cassava brown streak viruses (CBSVs) and cassava mosaic begomoviruses (CMBs). This aim helped in identifying superior clones for downstream breeding. In total, 220 cassava clones, three in uniform yield trials (UYTs) and 217 in a crossing block trial (CBT), were evaluated for virus and disease resistance. Field data were collected on disease incidence and severity. To detect and quantify CBSVs, 448 and 128 leaf samples from CBSD symptomatic and symptomless plants were analyzed by reverse transcription PCR and real-time quantitative PCR, respectively. In addition, 93 leaf samples from CMD symptomatic plants in the CBT were analyzed by conventional PCR using CMB species-specific primers. In the CBT, 124 (57%) cassava clones did not express CMD symptoms. Of the affected plants, 44 (55%) had single infection. Single (CBSV) infections were more prevalent (81.6%) in CBT clones than single (UCBSV) infection (3.2%). Of the three advanced clones in the UYT, NAROCASS 1 and NAROCASS 2 had significantly lower ( < 0.05) CBSD severity, incidence, and CBSV load than MH04/0300. In the UYT, only 22% of samples tested had CBSVs, and all showed a negative result for CMBs. The low disease incidence, severity, and viral load associated with NAROCASS 1 and NAROCASS 2 is evidence of their tolerance to both CBSD and CMD. Therefore, these two cassava clones should be utilized in CBSD and CMD management in Uganda, including their utilization as progenitors in further virus resistance breeding.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cropro.2018.09.015DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6358137PMC
January 2019

Field Level RNAi-Mediated Resistance to Cassava Brown Streak Disease across Multiple Cropping Cycles and Diverse East African Agro-Ecological Locations.

Front Plant Sci 2016 12;7:2060. Epub 2017 Jan 12.

National Crops Resources Research Institute Kampala, Uganda.

Cassava brown streak disease (CBSD) presents a serious threat to cassava production in East and Central Africa. Currently, no cultivars with high levels of resistance to CBSD are available to farmers. Transgenic RNAi technology was employed to combat CBSD by fusing coat protein (CP) sequences from (UCBSV) and (CBSV) to create an inverted repeat construct (p5001) driven by the constitutive promoter. Twenty-five plant lines of cultivar TME 204 expressing varying levels of small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) were established in confined field trials (CFTs) in Uganda and Kenya. Within an initial CFT at Namulonge, Uganda, non-transgenic TME 204 plants developed foliar and storage root CBSD incidences at 96-100% by 12 months after planting. In contrast, 16 of the 25 p5001 transgenic lines showed no foliar symptoms and had less than 8% of their storage roots symptomatic for CBSD. A direct positive correlation was seen between levels of resistance to CBSD and expression of transgenic CP-derived siRNAs. A subsequent CFT was established at Namulonge using stem cuttings from the initial trial. All transgenic lines established remained asymptomatic for CBSD, while 98% of the non-transgenic TME 204 stake-derived plants developed storage roots symptomatic for CBSD. Similarly, very high levels of resistance to CBSD were demonstrated by TME 204 p5001 RNAi lines grown within a CFT over a full cropping cycle at Mtwapa, coastal Kenya. Sequence analysis of CBSD causal viruses present at the trial sites showed that the transgenic lines were exposed to both CBSV and UCBSV, and that the sequenced isolates shared >90% CP identity with transgenic CP sequences expressed by the p5001 inverted repeat expression cassette. These results demonstrate very high levels of field resistance to CBSD conferred by the p5001 RNAi construct at diverse agro-ecological locations, and across the vegetative cropping cycle.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpls.2016.02060DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5226948PMC
January 2017

Cassava brown streak virus has a rapidly evolving genome: implications for virus speciation, variability, diagnosis and host resistance.

Sci Rep 2016 11 3;6:36164. Epub 2016 Nov 3.

The University of Western Australia, ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology and School of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Crawley, Perth 6009, Western Australia, Australia.

Cassava is a major staple food for about 800 million people in the tropics and sub-tropical regions of the world. Production of cassava is significantly hampered by cassava brown streak disease (CBSD), caused by Cassava brown streak virus (CBSV) and Ugandan cassava brown streak virus (UCBSV). The disease is suppressing cassava yields in eastern Africa at an alarming rate. Previous studies have documented that CBSV is more devastating than UCBSV because it more readily infects both susceptible and tolerant cassava cultivars, resulting in greater yield losses. Using whole genome sequences from NGS data, we produced the first coalescent-based species tree estimate for CBSV and UCBSV. This species framework led to the finding that CBSV has a faster rate of evolution when compared with UCBSV. Furthermore, we have discovered that in CBSV, nonsynonymous substitutions are more predominant than synonymous substitution and occur across the entire genome. All comparative analyses between CBSV and UCBSV presented here suggest that CBSV may be outsmarting the cassava immune system, thus making it more devastating and harder to control.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/srep36164DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5093738PMC
November 2016

Spatio-temporal patterns of genetic change amongst populations of cassava Bemisia tabaci whiteflies driving virus pandemics in East and Central Africa.

Virus Res 2014 Jun 28;186:61-75. Epub 2013 Nov 28.

School of Plant Sciences, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA.

The greatest current threat to cassava in sub-Saharan Africa, is the continued expansion of plant virus pandemics being driven by super-abundant populations of the whitefly vector, Bemisia tabaci. To track the association of putatively genetically distinct populations of B. tabaci with pandemics of cassava mosaic disease (CMD) and cassava brown streak disease (CBSD), a comprehensive region-wide analysis examined the phylogenetic relationships and population genetics of 642 B. tabaci adults sampled from cassava in six countries of East and Central Africa, between 1997 and 2010, using a mitochondrial DNA cytochrome oxidase I marker (780 bases). Eight phylogenetically distinct groups were identified, including one, designated herein as 'East Africa 1' (EA1), not previously described. The three most frequently occurring groups comprised >95% of all samples. Among these, the Sub-Saharan Africa 2 (SSA2) group diverged by c. 8% from two SSA1 sub-groups (SSA1-SG1 and SSA1-SG2), which themselves were 1.9% divergent. During the 14-year study period, the group associated with the CMD pandemic expansion shifted from SSA2 to SSA1-SG1. Population genetics analyses of SSA1, using Tajima's D, Fu's Fs and Rojas' R2 statistics confirmed a temporal transition in SSA1 populations from neutrally evolving at the outset, to rapidly expanding from 2000 to 2003, then back to populations more at equilibrium after 2004. Based on available evidence, hybrid introgression appears to be the most parsimonious explanation for the switch from SSA2 to SSA1-SG1 in whitefly populations driving cassava virus pandemics in East and Central Africa.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.virusres.2013.11.018DOI Listing
June 2014
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