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Advanced genotyping facility launched in Kenya

A biosciences lab in Nairobi this week launched an advanced genotyping platform aimed at supporting plant and livestock breeding studies in Africa.

The Integrated Genotyping Service and Support facility opened at the Biosciences East and Central Africa–International Livestock Research Institute hub in the Kenyan capital.

The facility will allow African breeders to improve crops and livestock through molecular tools such as genotyping, bioinformatics and genetic analysis.

It will also allow African research organisations to save money on sending samples to Europe or the United States for analysis, BecA-ILRI director Appolinaire Djikeng said at the launch on 21 November.

“This is high-end technology that is only available in US, Europe and Australia, and we are happy that it has now come to Africa for the very first time,” he said.

“It is one thing to send your samples offshore for processing, but it is totally different to have the same high-end technology available in Africa,” he added.

The IGSS offers affordable genome profiling on tissue from any species of animal or plant, with no prior genomic data required to run the analysis.

The facility is open for use by national agriculture research programmes involved in animal and plant breeding throughout Africa, regional and continental bodies, plus all institutions affiliated to the global CGIAR agricultural research network.

Scientists at the hub have already used the platform to understand maize lethal necrosis, which ravages the crop across East Africa. They are also using it to understand differences in disease resistance between local sheep breeds.

An Australian company, Diversity Arrays Technology, developed the technology and will provide technical support for the platform.