Next Generation Cassava Breeding (NEXTGEN)

The Next Generation Cassava Breeding project promises to substantially increase the rate of genetic improvement in cassava breeding and unlock the full potential of cassava, a staple crop central to food security and livelihoods across Africa. Scientists on the project use a new breeding method known as Genomic Selection (GS) that relies on statistical modeling to predict cassava performance before field testing and dramatically accelerates the breeding cycle.

A long generation time, and poor flowering and seed set constrain cassava improvement, resulting in lengthy breeding cycles. This limits cassava breeders' responsiveness to emerging threats and rapid delivery of improved varieties to smallholder farmers. The $25.2M Next Generation Cassava Breeding project addresses these issues by implementing and empirically testing GS, developing methods to increase flowering and seed set in cassava, as well as developing human and infrastructure capacity to enable self-standing application of these technologies in cassava breeding in Africa and beyond.

Central to this goal is the 'one-stop shop' database (www.cassavabase.org) that Next Generation Cassava Breeding project scientists are developing to improve breeding program information tracking, to manage genotypic and phenotypic data, and to pipeline that data through GS prediction analyses. The Next Generation Cassava Breeding project is also taking advantage of cassava genetic resources by crossing Latin American and African germplasm, and developing facilities where crosses can be propagated free of disease pressure. The Next Generation Cassava Breeding project also supports the creation of a biotechnology/biosafety outreach and training hub at the National Crops Resources Research Institute in Uganda.

The Next Generation Cassava Breeding project partners Cornell University scientists with breeding programs at the National Crops Resources Research Institute in Uganda, the National Root Crops Research Institute and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, both in Nigeria, as well as the Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research and the US Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in the U.S.

The Next Generation Cassava Breeding project is supported by the Bill {&} Melinda Gates Foundation and the UK Department for International Development, and is funded through International Programs in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell.

Target Regions:

East Africa | West Africa

Project Dates:

Oct 2012 - Oct 2017