A new disease-resistant crop variety, developed by the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center and a potential key to feeding large swaths of Africa, has been cleared for its final test, the center announced Wednesday.

Cassava, the starchy root of a tropical shrub, is a key food in sub-Saharan Africa but is threatened by cassava brown streak disease, which rots the tubers and can destroy entire fields.

“Often you can’t see it — the symptoms on the leaves can be very mild,” said Nigel Taylor, a Danforth Center scientist leading the project. “But when you dig up the storage roots there are big, brown lesions. It makes the roots inedible. You can’t feed them to animals. You can’t sell them — they’re ruined.”  READ MORE