The hundreds of thousands of cassava land races held by
farmers in Latin America, Africa and Asia are the results of
thousands or hundreds of years of evolution and natural
selection, and are an invaluable resource for the future.
However collecting using them in a systematic way to
increase the crop's productivity and to protect the future
harvest is a task beyond any particular organization or
country. The cassava molecular diversity network
(MOLCAS) seeks to collect and characterize using molecular
markers cassava land races in Africa and Latin America by
supporting its members with tools, funds and relevant
existing information. The network, funded by the
International Chemical Sciences Program (IPICs), University
of Uppsala, comprises of scientists drawn from institutes in
Malawi, Uganda, Ghana, Tanzania, Nigeria, Brazil, Sweden,
Peru, Colombia, France, and the USA.
The goal of MOLCAS remains to enhance the productivity of
Collection and molecular marker study of genetic variation
of cassava land races.
Elucidation of the genetic diversity and differentiation
of land races in Africa compared to what exists in the
crops primary center of diversity.
The exploitation of this information in systematic
improvement of the crop.
Build capacity in the sub Saharan region for molecular
diversity assessment and interpretation.
The network achieves its objectives by linking up with
different national and international institutes in Africa
and South America and advanced labs and universities in
developed countries interested in studying the genetic
diversity of cassava. Members conduct germplasm
collection, molecular characterization, and field trials
with cassava land races in Africa and Latin America.
Studies concluded to date by members of the network include:
A SSR study of cassava land races in Northern Malawi
(Bvumbwe Agricultural Research Station Malawi, SLU,
A SSR study of cassava land races in Southern Tanzania
(CIAT, SLU, ARI Mwanza, ARI Mikocheni Tanzania)
A molecular marker SSR study of cassava land races from
the Amazonian basin and North Eastern coast of Brazil
Ongoing studies include:
SSR study of a cassava collection from the Amazonian
region of Colombia (CIAT, Uni Valle Colombia)
SSR study of land races in Nigeria (IITA, NRCRI Nigeria,
Test for heterotic (hybrid vigor) patterns in clusters of
previous collections (CIAT).
The primary mode of disseminating the research results
obtained through the network has been through refereed
journal papers and MOLCAS workshops held bi-annually.
However to improve access to data from the germplasm studies
consideration has been given to dissemination by the
internet through a MOLCAS web site.