A very challenging two weeks but we did it, we made it. We have data for 12 cassava plants – some showing symptoms and some were not.

Dr. Naomi Bissem’s tweet says it all:

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Details: We learned A LOT on this trip.  Shipping was a challenge.  We discovered FedEx froze our flow cells- and this is no joke.  It ruined all the flow cells but luckily Nanopore sent us  new flow cells (as per the suggestions below) via DHL.  We learned that that little gray pad on the flow cell is super important for temperature control (thank you twitter for helping real-time). We learned that the priming of the flow cell is important and if your library isn’t going in the spot-on port to add more priming mix to the flow cell to get things moving.  We learned that power is not a given.  We should have had a battery back up on the machine we were using.  We also learned once (actually 3 times) when the power goes off you can quickly start the machine running and it keeps sequencing.


The team: I also learned the team from University of Eldoret has some serious tenacity. They boarded a bus Thursday night upon hearing we received the shipment- drove 6 hours- and we began preparing the library Friday morning, started the run (3 times with the power cuts) and then got back on the bus and drove back to Eldoret. In addition, Charles Kayuki, from Mikocheni Agricultural Research Institute (MARI)  joined us for the second week at JKUAT – he was a valuable resource as he has completed runs on his own in Tanzania. Anders Savill in Australia was on-call and dealing with us at all hours- thank you Anders. Plus Angelica and Zoe from Nanopore were amazing at facilitating so many things on that end. Finally, the JKUAT team lead by Professor Ateka- was invaluable, fierce, dedicated and downright amazing. Elijah Ateka, Brenda Muga, Sam Maura, and Benson – Asante Sana for relentless fight to get this test done.


The farmers: Rose, from Eldoret had CMD symptomatic plants.  We tested her plants and Prof. Ateka provided her the virus resistant cassava. The team from Eldoret took the cuttings to her and she is on her way.  We also visited two other farms, Mama Maina and Mr. Lungo Mutunga’s farm in Thika, Kenya. We are awaiting the results of the run and will advise them later this week.


Prison Visit: While we waited for the flow cells to arrive we visited Langata Women Maximun Security Prison to conduct a cassava pest and disease training for inmates and farm managers.  We feel very strongly empowering all farmers is at the core of our movement. This was a very special day and the team plans to go back and plant virus-free cassava with the inmates on the prison farm.  Outreach matters.


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