Cassava (Manihot esculenta Crantz) is the fourth most important source of carbohydrates for human consumption in the tropics and thus occupies a uniquely important position as a food security crop for smallholder farmers. Consequently, cassava improvement is of high priority to most national agricultural research institutions in the tropics. With advances in functional genomics and genome editing approaches in this post genomics era, there are unprecedented opportunities and potential to accelerate the improvement of this important crop. These new technologies will need to be directed toward addressing major cassava production constraints, notably virus resistance, protein content, tolerance to drought and reduction of hydrogen cyanide content. Here, we discuss the important role novel functional genomics and genome editing technologies have and will continue to play in cassava improvement efforts. These approaches, including artificial miRNA (amiRNA), trans-acting small interfering RNA (tasiRNA), clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat (CRISPR)-associated protein 9 (Cas9), and Targeting Induced Local Lesions IN Genomes (TILLING), have been shown to be effective in addressing major crop production constraints. In addition to reviewing specific applications of these technologies in cassava improvement, this chapter discusses specific examples being deployed in the amelioration of cassava or of other crops that could be applied to cassava in future.
Part of the book: Cassava