A study to maintain food security in Uganda

phys.org | 10/9/2018 | Staff
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By identifying the genes involved in resisting Africa's most widespread cattle disease, researchers at EPFL have developed a map of Uganda showing cattle farmers where the riskiest areas are.

"We hope that our research will have an impact, because it addresses some major issues regarding food security in Africa over the medium and long term," says Stéphane Joost, who works in EPFL's Laboratory of Geographic Information Systems (LASIG) and is the corresponding author of a study recently published in scientific review Frontiers in Genetics.

Theileriosis - Disease - Parasite - Kills - Thousands

Theileriosis is a tick-borne cattle disease. The parasite involved kills thousands of cattle each year in central and eastern Africa. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, the disease causes financial losses estimated at 170 million dollars per year in the region. Those losses lead to food insecurity for many families and are partly responsible for rural depopulation.

The study, in which LASIG post-doctoral researcher Elia Vajana was first author, produced a map showing the areas of Uganda where this deadly disease is most prevalent. The map is the result of a novel method compiling epidemiological data collected from 823 indigenous cattle along with their location. Using an environmental genomics approach – which combines the probability of being bitten by a tick, the risk of infection by the parasite and the genetic characteristics of cattle populations – the researchers were able to identify the genes potentially involved in resisting theileriosis.

Method - Team - Veterinarians - Part - Study

The method developed by the team aims to help local veterinarians – who took part in the study as well – to see where the riskiest areas are. Farmers' associations will also be able to make better choices about which...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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