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West African Cowpea Consortium (WACC)

Main Focus

The main focus of the WACC has been the development of new cowpea varieties with resistance to the parasite Striga gesnerioides. This is being achieved through the use of Marker Assisted Selection (MAS). More recently projects have been looking at additional constraints including aphids, Alectra, brown blotch and other fungal diseases. Within these projects student scholarships have been awarded and training provided in molecular breeding techniques.


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IER, Bamako, Mali

Research Title: "Strengthening National Capacity for the Development of DNA Markers and the Application of Marker-Assisted Selection (MAS) in Cowpea Breeding for Mali".
PI: Sory Diallo.

Objectives include: Testing new lines (developed in previous phases of this project) in farmer fields in Ségou and Mopti regions and releasing high yielding cowpea cultivars with resistance to Striga; train African scientists in molecular methods as applied to plant breeding for crop improvement; to develop SSR markers associated with Striga Race 2 resistance; to introgress the Striga race 2 resistance gene to the local varieties.

INERA, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso

Research Title: "Breeding cowpea (Vigna unguiculta (L.) walp) for multiple resistances and farmer's preferred traits for Burkina Faso ecological zones".
PI's: Dr Benoit Batieno.

The project has developed four Striga resistant cowpea varieties, which have been released to farmers.
Objectives include: Develop or use existing breeding populations for MAS; study the genetic inheritance of resistance to aphids and C. capsicii; validate a marker for the resistance to Striga races 1 and Kp, aphids and C. Capsicii; apply MAS to develop Striga, aphid and C. Capsicii resistant cowpea lines; produce breeder’s and basic seeds of top released varieties; train cowpea producers in Burkina Faso on good production and storage practices for grains and seeds.

IRAD, Maroua, Cameroon

Research Title: "Strengthening National Capacity for the development of DNA markers and the application of Marker-Assisted Selection (MAS) in cowpea breeding for West and Central African sub-region".
PI: Sobda Gonné.

The project has identified Striga resistant varieties of cowpea and is crossing these with local varieties to produce new resistant lines for release to farmers.
Project objectives: To complete the introgression of Striga resistance gene to farmer preferred and well adapted varieties in Cameroon for dissemination; develop improved cowpea varieties resistant/tolerant to insects (aphid and thrips) through introgression to the improved Striga resistant lines being developed; set up a robust bio-assay for thrips resistance in collaboration with members of other KT-funded projects; initiate breeding for additional constraints such as Colletotrichum fungal disease.

SARI, Tamale, Ghana

Research Title: "Pyramiding of two different sources of aphid resistance genes in farmer preferred varieties in Ghana".
PI: Dr Francis Kusi.

The project has identified a marker for aphid resistance and has introgressed resistance into preferred local varieties, which are to be certified. The project will now introgress a second resistance gene into improved varieties with IT97K-556-6 the source of the new aphid resistant gene using MABC. This objective will involve determining the genetic relatedness among the resistant genotypes and identifying markers linked to aphid resistance in IT97K-556-6. Varieties without either of the two aphid resistant genes will also be improved. This project will form part of a PhD scholarship funded by the Trust.

Research Title: "Deployment of sources of cowpea root rot (Macrophomina phaseolina and Rhizoctonia solani) resistance to improve cowpea in Ghana".
PI: Dr Francis Kusi.

Project objectives: Multilocational identification and characterisation of root rot fungi (Macrophomina phaseolina and Rhizoctonia solani) from Upper East, Upper West and Northern region of Ghana; determination of the genetics of inheritance of the root rot diseases in cowpea; identification of markers linked to root rot disease resistance in cowpea; introgression of the resistance genes into susceptible elite varieties through marker-assisted selection. This project will form part of a PhD scholarship funded by the Trust.

Research Title: "Identification of marker(s) linked with earliness in cowpea (Vigna unguiculata (L.) walp)".
PI: Dr Francis Kusi.

Objectives include: to find an SSR marker(s) linked with the earliness gene for use in marker-assisted backcrossing in order to introgress the earliness gene into farmer preferred medium and late maturing cowpea genotypes.

UAC, Abomey-Calavi, Benin

Research Title: "Participatory selection of cowpea varieties resistant to aphid and Striga in Benin".
PI: Dr Symphorien Agbahoungba.

Objectives include: to improve livelihoods of smallholder farmers through selection of improved cowpea varieties in Benin; identify introduced lines of cowpea with resistance to aphid and Striga under artificial inoculation conditions in Benin; determine the adaptability and stability of selected cowpea lines for yield and resistance to aphids and Striga under different agro-ecological zones in Benin.

UAM, Makurdi, Nigeria

Research Title: "Genetic Improvement of cowpea for Striga resistance using molecular tools in Nigeria".
PI: Dr Lucky Omoigui.

The project has developed a number of Striga and Alectra resistant varieties two of which have now been certified.
Project objectives: Inheritance studies to determine the gene action conferring resistance to aphid and fusarium wilt; marker development for aphid and fusarium wilt resistance; introgression of aphid and fusarium wilt resistant genes into existing improved cultivars using MAS; use of effective markers to identify promising cultivars; conduct field testing with farmers of new improved cultivars with multiple resistances; farmer participatory varietal selection; capacity building of one PhD and two MSc students in the project.