The cassava plant is a drought-resistant food source for many people but a viral infection is threatening the much-needed crop. That’s where Elizabeth City State University’s Dr. Tim Goodale comes into the picture, working on a National Science Foundation (NSF) funded project to investigate the impacts on the plant in East Africa.

“Cassava is a crucial food crop during drought and when issues with the crop arise, millions of people struggle to subside,” said Dr. Goodale.

Dr. Goodale recently returned from India where he presented findings at the 2018 International Conference on Bioinformatics and Systems Biology. The research is part of a multi-university project, the NSF Partnerships in International Research and Education. Aside from ECSU, other universities include N.C. State, North Carolina A&T, and Auburn University.

Dr. Goodale says ECSU and the other U.S. universities are working with an international team in conjunction with Biosciences Eastern and Central Africa, the International Livestock Research Institute in Nairobi, Kenya, and the Mikocheni Agricultural Research Institute in Tanzania.

“The diverse team of scientists and researchers is investigating causes and impacts of viral infections caused by white flies within the cassava plant in East Africa,” explained Dr. Goodale.

The NSF, he said, is funding the work, over five years with a $5 million award.

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Originally published Jan. 29, 2019.