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Weevil Resistant Sweetpotato through Biotechnology

African sweetpotato weevils (SPW), Cylas puncticollis and C. brunneus, are a major threat to sweetpotato, which plays a vital role in food security and income generation for both the urban and rural poor in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). SPW can devastate sweetpotato production, including total crop loss. A socio-economic study undertaken by the International Potato Center (CIP) and national partners in Burundi, DR Congo (Kivu province only), Rwanda, and Uganda revealed that SPW cause an average annual yield loss of 20%. Bioassays using transgenic tissues infested with SPW larvae are on-going but preliminary results reflect low toxicity as expected based on Cry protein expression. Future steps include the screening of additional events, characterization of competitive binding of these Cry proteins and confined field trials of SPW- resistant events.