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Welcome to issue 22 of the DrumBeat!

The DrumBeat continues to bring you exciting bioscience stories and trends from around Africa. This issue's Video of the Month captures a candid conversation on what ails adoption of gene modification technologies in Africa and Europe. Complexity of regulatory systems in Africa and politicization of science emerge as some of the factors hampering adoption of modern agricultural biotechnologies on the continent.

In the Story of the Month, we capture the excitement and key moments from this year's Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology Africa Media Awards (OMAs) held this November in Mombasa, Kenya. We paint a vivid image of the event and give you detailed information about the winners. OMAS are held annually to recognize and celebrate African journalists who consistently and effectively report on agricultural biotechnology.

The Opinion Piece comes from Kenya's National Biosafety Authority Chief Executive Officer Prof. Dorington Ogoyi. He examines Kenya's biosafety framework affirming its infallibility in ensuring human, animal and environment safety in all dealings of GMOs. The article details how NBA has established a transparent, science-based and predictable risk assessment and decision-making process to ensure safety of GM foods in Kenya.

Explore detailed coverage of these and more stories on Africa's bioscience development through your favourite issue of the DrumBeat.

Enjoy your reading!

Country Crop Modified trait Date of approval
Brazil Maize Stacked- herbicide tolerance, insect resistance and Mannose metabolism October 22nd 2019

What Ails Adoption of GM technology in Africa and Europe?

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Story of the month
Kenyan Journalist scoops Top Africa Science Journalism Award

A Kenyan journalist has been feted as this year's Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB) Africa journalist of the year. Gabriel Kudaka, a journalist with the Nation Media Group, scooped the honors during the 2019 OFAB Africa Media Awards gala held on 21st November in Mombasa, Kenya. The Awards recognize and celebrate African journalists who consistently and effectively report on agricultural biotechnology.

Phenotypic characterization of maize landraces from Sahel and Coastal West Africa reveals marked diversity and potential for genetic improvement

Landraces of maize are invaluable sources of genetic variability for improving agronomic traits, and they hold great promise in developing new maize varieties with enhanced resilience to stresses. This study investigated the extent of phenotypic diversity among 196 maize landraces, representing gene pools from Burkina Faso, Ghana and Togo, and 14 improved populations/varieties from the IITA Maize Improvement Program. The results provide new insights into the potential of tropical maize landraces for genetic improvement of maize.

Genetic diversity, population structure and key phenotypic traits driving variation within soybean collection in Ghana

Soybean is an important oilseed crop worldwide and it has recently become the crop of interest in Ghana. In this study, 142 soybean accessions were genotyped with 34 SSR markers and concurrently evaluated for five quantitative and two qualitative phenotypic traits. The assembled germplasm is genetically diverse with high variation in flowering and maturity period, and key yield components which could be exploited in developing superior varieties well adapted to Ghana and West Africa.

Resequencing of 414 cultivated and wild watermelon accessions identifies selection for fruit quality traits

Fruit characteristics of sweet watermelon are largely the result of human selection. Here we report an improved watermelon reference genome and whole-genome resequencing of 414 accessions representing all extant species in the Citrullus genus. Our findings indicate that different loci affecting watermelon fruit size have been under selection during speciation, domestication and improvement. This study provides valuable genomic resources and sheds light on watermelon speciation and breeding history.

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