Dr. John S. Y. Eleblu, a Senior Lecturer at the Biotechnology Centre and the Coordinator for Research Programmes, Francophone Africa, at the West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI), has won a project grant of Fifty Thousand Euros (€ 50,000) from the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) to participate in the Coordinated Research Projects (CRPs) titled “Radiation-induced crop diversity and genetic associations for accelerating variety development”.
Dr. Eleblu will serve as the Chief Scientific Investigator for the 5-year project on “Mapping of Genetic Associations of Number of Pods Per Plant and Number of Seeds Per Pod in Cowpea”.
The funds are meant to support research work at WACCI for the development of improved varieties of Cowpea (Beans) for higher yields. As part of this project, Dr. Eleblu will establish strong collaborations with scientists at the Texas A&M University, USA, and study the effects of Ion Beam irradiation on the genome of Cowpea at the Cyclotron Institute.
“WACCI is proud of Dr. Eleblu for winning this competitive research grant which will give global visibility to his research and extend his range of contacts to key scientists in Europe and the USA”, said the Director of WACCI, Prof. Eric Danquah.
Dr. Eleblu has developed Ethyl Methane Sulphonate (EMS) mutant populations after chemical mutagenesis of a farmer’s preferred variety of Cowpea popularly known as Asontem.
Out of 6380 seeds mutagenized and sown, about 4,723 germinated representing 74% and 4,526 lines survived and reproduced thereby giving rise to the M2 putative mutants lines that have been developed and characterized for key agronomic traits.
Interestingly, two very important yield parameter traits, namely: number of pods per plant and number of seeds per plant studied had huge diversity with great potential for both genetic mapping of the underlying alleles and the development of higher-yielding plants.
Under this research project, Dr. Eleblu’s team will study the alleles or genes controlling these two main traits using targeted sequencing of candidate genes and alternatively whole-genome sequencing of bulk families with the trait and controls.
In addition, under this collaboration with Texas A&M University in the United States of America, the Cyclotron institute will provide access to its Ion Beam technologies for training mid-career scientists on its use for irradiation and study the effects of Ion Beam irradiation on the genome of Cowpea.
The International Atomic Energy Agency supports research for the development and use of atomic energy for peaceful purposes globally.
It brings together research institutions from its developing and the developed Member States to collaborate on research projects of common interest, so-called Coordinated Research Projects (CRPs).