MGomez

Michael
Gomez
Email: 
michaelgr@berkeley.edu

Cassava Brown Streak Disease (CBSD) currently represents a serious threat to food security and subsistence agriculture for smallholder farmers in the developing world, especially in Africa. The causative virus belongs to the family Potyviridae, the largest family of viruses known to infect plants. Upon infection of cassava cells, this virus recruits cellular machinery for viral replication, often leading to cell death. CBSD can rapidly spread through entire fields by whitefly transmission, and resulting root necrosis can reduce root weight and value. Crop loss due to CBSD is an economic hardship for the farmer and may lead to famine in endemic areas. The objective of my project is to generate durable genetic resistance to CBSD in cassava.  The CRISPR-Cas system has recently emerged as a revolutionary genome editing technology. I aim to translate this system into a novel class of plant therapeutics to effectively control plant disease. Precise mutagenesis of cassava genes required for viral replication is hypothesized to stop the spread of CBSD. Application of this system to combat viral infections can serve as a sustainable solution to global food challenges.