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Allen Van Deynze & Bernice Waweru

The African Orphan Crops Consortium, alleviating stunting due to malnutrition one crop at a time

The African Orphan Crop Consortium aims to reduce malnutrition by making nutritious crops productive, developing genomic tools to accelerate the breeding of key crops in African diets.The consortium plans to sequence 101 crop species, including grains, legumes, vegetables and fruits, and sequence 100 lines for each species.The Bioinformatics Community of Practice sequenced and assembled the genomes of key crops African yam bean (AYB), lablab bean and moringa. The team’s goal: to generate an African-led whole genome assembly draft, for public release, to aid in crop improvement for genetic gains in Africa.

Bernice: the Oxford Nanopore MinION device provided ‘a genomic revolution in Africa’. AYB: 666 Mb assembly, with a contig N50 of 403 kb and a largest contig of 10.5 Mb. Lablab bean: 371 Mb assembly, N50 of 3.1 Mb with a largest contig length of 22.7 Mb, BUSCO completeness of 96%. Moringa: incorporation of proximity ligation data generated 236 Mb assembly with an L90 of 10 scaffolds, reduced from 107 contigs when using short-read data alone. N90 of 13.8 Mb and a BUSCO completeness of 97.9%.

Bernice highlighted how capacity building and collaboration play ‘a big role in creating the resources required for high-quality research’.

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