Cassava is a staple food crop of approximately 800 million people and is grown in 95 countries worldwide. Cassava is affected by a diverse set of constraints, especially pests and diseases. Most notable among these are the virus diseases. A diverse group of virus species infect cassava in Latin America, Africa and Asia. Cassava mosaic geminiviruses (CMGs) causing cassava mosaic disease (CMD) in Africa and Asia and cassava brown streak viruses (CBSVs) causing cassava brown streak diseases (CBSD) in Africa are of economic importance. In order to take stock of the progress of research, an International webinaron Cassava viruses- Global status and strategies for disease control and prevention was organised by ICAR-Central Tuber Crops Research Institute, Sreekariyam, Thiruvananthapuram on 12 August 2021. Dr. M.N. Sheela, Director, ICAR-CTCRI, welcomed the dignitaries, delegates and participants for the program The international webinar was inaugurated by Dr. Trilochan Mohapatra, Secretary, DARE and DG, ICAR. During his inaugural address, he stressed the need to design, define, & implement strategies to prevent crop losses from viral diseases and stabilise production. He opined that the susceptible varieties predominantly grown in our country should be substituted with resistant cultivars on a large scale, or resistance should be developed on the background of those popular varieties. He also emphasised deploying newer biotechnological tools like CRISPR/CAS9 and RNA gene silencing to mitigate viral diseases. In his presidential address, Dr. A.K. Singh, DDG (Hort. Science), ICAR, emphasisedthe importance of viral diseases and their impact on cassava in the wake of the changing climate.He opined that the tropics and subtropics of India could utilise the knowledge from the experts from various parts of the world to meet different demands of cassava for food purposes& as a substitute for other industrial uses. He assured that the recommendations arising out from the deliberations of this webinar would be implemented in the ongoing research program for successful cassava production in India. Dr. Vikramaditya Pandey, ADG (Hort. Science-I), ICAR, Dr. Sunil Chandra Dubey ADG (Plant Protection & Biosafety) andDr. Stephan Winter, Head, Plant Virus Division, DSMZ, Germany offered felicitation. The inaugural session ended with the vote of thanks by organising secretary, Dr. T. Makeshkumar, Principal Scientist, Division of Crop Protection, ICAR-CTCRI. Totally 10 presentations were made on this webinar from different parts of world ( Three from India, one each from Colombia, Tanzania, Nigeria, UK, Germany, Belgium and Laos) on various aspects of cassava viruses and strategies to manage them. The topic covered includes status of cassava mosaic, cassava brown streak, diagnosis, phytosanitation, clean seed systems, resistance breeding, new biotechnological tools for management and exploiting resistance genes for begomovirus. The recommendations evolved from this webinar are survey and surveillance to be intensified for monitoring the emergence of new strain in cassava viruses, strict quarantine enforcement required to prevent the introduction of cassava brown streak disease from Africa to India, developing on site diagnostics tools for CMD and ICT based tools for field level identification, identification of host genes for CMD resistance as well as for other viruses, Clean seed system and rapid multiplication and distribution of planting material, Harmonisation of regulations for international exchange of germplasm to avoid ad hoc interpretation of regulations by the regulators. Genome editing approach for cassava virus resistance.
Acharya Narendra Deva University of Agriculture and Technology 1