How we do it: Leveraging genetic resources and biotechnology tools
CIAT conserves in vitro the world’s most important collection of cassava gemplasm. The cassava collection held in trust at CIAT includes a total of 6,592 accessions from 28 countries, represented in 5,709 clones of Manihot esculenta and 883 genotypes of wild species conserved using in vitro techniques. Over 37% of the cassava diversity held in CIAT’s genebank originates from Colombia, with another 24% coming from Brazil. Collections from other South American countries (21%), as well as Central America and the Caribbean (7%), and Asia (7%) are also conserved at CIAT.
Cassava improvement at CIAT relies on biotechnology tools to speed progress and solve recalcitrant problems. Center researchers develop molecular markers for traits such as whitefly resistance, quantitative trait loci (QTLs) in populations derived from heterozygous parent materials, and protocols for rapid multiplication of disease-free planting materials through tissue culture.
Through the Cassava Genome Hub, an online platform that produces and stores more than 15 terabytes of genetic data on cassava, CIAT is pioneering a new approach to big data management and analysis. Launched publically in late 2015, and accessible from anywhere in the world, the Hub allows researchers to manage and mine this huge amount of data themselves, using graphical and analytical tools to conduct complex analysis in a user-friendly way.