Cassava is genetically decaying, putting staple crop at risk

For breeders of cassava, a staple food for hundreds of millions in the tropics, producing improved varieties has been getting harder over time. A team at Cornell used genomic analysis of cassava varieties and wild relatives ...

Cassava with improved starch

Using the famous CRISPR-Cas9 gene scissors, plant biotechnologists at ETH Zurich have been able to improve cassava. The new variety has amylose-free or 'waxy' starch, which is preferred by industry.

Helping cassava farmers by extending crop life

The root vegetable cassava is a major food staple in dozens of countries across the world. Drought-resistant, nutritious, and tasty, it has also become a major source of income for small-scale, rural farmers in places like ...

New African cassava resists devastating viruses

Plant scientists at ETH Zurich have developed a new African cassava preferred by consumers and farmers that is resistant to the two major virus diseases in Africa. Now they want to test the resistant cassava in Africa.

PLOS ONE paper on cassava gene enhancement retracted

(Phys.org)—PLOS ONE, an open access peer review journal (launched in 2006) has issued a retraction regarding a paper it published recently touting the benefits of genetically enhanced cassava, saying that the results achieved ...

Cassava brief: The problem and the genomics approach

What keeps Mtakai Ngara and Teddy Amuge up at night? Thinking about cassava. These young, ambitious, researchers working at the International Institute for Tropical Africa (IITA) just outside Nairobi, Kenya are learning more ...

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Cassava

Cassava (Manihot esculenta), also called yuca or manioc, a woody shrub of the Euphorbiaceae (spurge family) native to South America, is extensively cultivated as an annual crop in tropical and subtropical regions for its edible starchy tuberous root, a major source of carbohydrates. It differs from the similarly-spelled yucca, an unrelated fruit-bearing plant.

Cassava is the third largest source of food carbohydrates in the world. Nigeria is the world's largest producer of cassava. It is classified as sweet or bitter, depending on the level of toxic cyanogenic glucosides. (However, bitter taste is not always a reliable measure.) Improper preparation of cassava can leave enough residual cyanide to cause acute cyanide intoxication and goiters, and has been linked to ataxia or partial paralysis. Nevertheless, farmers often prefer the bitter varieties because they deter pests, animals, and thieves. In some locations the more toxic varieties serve as a fall-back resource (a "food security crop") in times of famine.

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