Incubator being used for chilled storage of samples prior to processing and analysis
Agricultural biotechnology provides innovative means for protecting crops and animals from devastating diseases. In this component of the project, a range of molecular techniques were used for the monitoring of pathogenic organisms and pests to improve agricultural productivity. Knowledge transfer from the laboratory to the field was implemented through training workshops.
Crops, animals and food produce harbor many microbes, some of which can cause serious damage or can be harmful to humans. Sensitive methods are required for their identification and differentiation in order to improve management strategies. DNA amplification and sequencing were successfully applied on selected organisms.
Dr H. Neetoo, Prof Y. Jaufeerally Fakim, Prof S. Facknath, Dr V. Bhoyroo
The Work Package 1 component of the DESIRA project consisted of several parts for the identification and characterisation of pest and diseases. The rationale was to apply techniques based on DNA sequences to detect pathogens and insect pests more accurately. While traditional methods rely on culture, biochemistry, morphology and visual assessment, a molecular approach provides an insight into the genomes of the target organisms. More importantly they enable the differentiation of closely related strains, which is more challenging with other methods. Several experiments were run and it was possible to detect and differentiate infectious organisms in food and plant materials. Molecular identification of several insect pests has been performed through DNA barcoding by amplification and sequencing of the cytochrome oxidase gene (CO1) segment.
WP1 was implemented in collaboration with officers of the Ministry of Agro-Industry and Food Security. The University provided the laboratory facilities to perform the tests and hosted the training sessions.
Workshop at Bois Pignolet Community Center (63 participants) and at Morcellement St Andre Khoyratty Community Center (50 Participants) in collaboration with the Sugar Industry Labour Welfare Fund and F.A.L.C.O.N
Workshop at Mapou in collaboration with the Sugar Industry Labour Welfare Fund and F.A.L.C.O.N
Webinar on the occasion of the international day of awareness of food loss and food waste
Online Focus group with Stakeholders on 'Enhancing Food Safety, Food waste reduction and food innovation'
Webinar on ' Food Waste Reduction and Recovery' for Students in Rodrigues
Workshop on "Food Waste Reduction; it is our responsibility' with Mauritius Revenue Authority Staff
Campaign on " Together, We can Fight Food Waste at St Nicholas Grammar School"
Workshop on the 'Valorisation of Food Waste' with women entrepreneur
Celebrating International Day of Awareness on Food Loss and Food Waste Reduction
Train the Trainers Workshop with 18 Home economies instructors and officers on " food waste reduction at household level"
Aim: To identify accurately species and strains of pathogens through molecular techniques
Scope: Molecular methods, which use DNA-based approaches, are very accurate for identification of species and strains. Mauritius is lagging behind in the application of such methods for pest and disease monitoring and control. To achieve this, the proper molecular methods have first to be validated for the local context.
1.2.1 Validate test methods for diagnostic and differentiation of specific pests and diseases using PCR amplification, real-time PCR and DNA sequencing;
1.2.2 Screen strategic crops and livestock animals for pathogens and pests of major concern.
Aim: To document an on-line repository of the molecular sequences of local pest and diseases for use by stakeholders
Scope: An online web portal for pest and diseases in Mauritius is an important tool for stakeholders to properly identify the pests, their geographical distribution, seasonality prevalence and measure impacts of agricultural production. The tool will then be used to advise on the control mechanism such as the use of appropriate vaccines for the diseases depending on the causal organism following strain identification. This tool will provide the means for disease monitoring and produce information that can be stored in databases for future use. The web portal will generate data that will be critical in the management of agricultural production.
1.3.1 To develop a database of known and emerging pests and diseases for Mauritius and Rodrigues;
1.3.2 To design a data analytics tool;
1.3.3 To map high-risk regions for pest and disease.