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Dawit Beyene Kidanemariam: Investigating the occurence and distribution of viral diseases of taro in Ethiopia

45aec.jpgDawit Beyene Kidanemariam is a researcher at the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR) and  PhD student at Queensland University of Science and Technology, Australia. He is a recipient of the BecA-ILRI Hub's Africa Biosciences Challenge Fund (ABCF) fellowship.

Dawit Beyene was awarded a fellowship for a period of six months from 16 July 2012 – 14 January 2013 to study the occurrence and distribution of viral diseases of taro in Ethiopia.

A large population in south and southwest Ethiopia solely depends on the root crops enset, potato, sweet potato and taro for their daily food. Taro is a tropical plant grown primarily for its edible starchy corms. Being vegetatively propagated, taro is prone to viral infection and as a result, its production has declined significantly

The main objective of this project was to determine the identity and incidence of viruses associated with taro in Ethiopia. The results of the study show that there is a high infestation of taro plantations by Dasheen mosaic virus (DsMV) and possibly two new viruses. Further investigation of these viruses is still in progress.

About his achievements Dawit says:

"The preliminary results from my research at the BecA-ILRI Hub gave more insight to the extent of the problem of viral diseases not only in taro but also in other vegetatively propagated crops in Ethiopia.  I have given three practical trainings and three seminars to researchers from different laboratories on plant virus diagnostics in planting materials before dissemination to farmers.

A bigger project to address the problem of taro viruses in the region has been designed and I will undertake part of the research for this project as my PhD studies funded by an Australian Awards for Africa scholarship. My PhD which will be co-supervised by a BecA-ILRI Hub scientist will be carried out partly at Queensland University of Science and Technology, Australia and at the BecA-ILRI Hub. The manuscript developed from my work during the ABCF fellowship is currently under preparation before submission for publication.

My growth as a researcher and the skills I am now using for my PhD research are thanks to the time spent at the BecA-ILRI Hub. In addition, the contacts I developed and the scientific circle I now belong to are an important component of my career development. I could never forget the BecA -ILRI Hub Team!"

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