Establish a joint UK-Kenya Phytoplasma research initiative
Using the specific example of lethal yellow disease of coconut (CLYD) in Kenya, we aim to establish a collaborative platform to investigate its causative pathogen, the CLYD phytoplasma. The platform will utilize the expertise of researchers within the UK (JIC, EMBL- EBI and Cambridge University) and in Kenya (KEMRI-Welcome Trust and KEPHIS) to build the capacity for phytoplasma research based at the newly chartered Pwani University (PU) Bioresearch Centre (PUBReC) in Kilifi, Kenya. Through in-parallel investigations at JIC and PU, we aim to be the first to fully sequence CLYD phytoplasma and enable early-carrier African researchers at PU to continue to study this economically important pathogen. This work will contribute to an on-going worldwide initiative to uncover phytoplasma diversity and mechanisms behind host interactions. Our primary goal is to establish a productive platform to continue high-quality and impactful phytoplasma research in Sub-Saharan Africa.