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Maize lethal necrosis: Assessing virus diversity and identifying uncharacterised viruses

This is one of a series of articles about the 20 research projects for which CONNECTED provided pump-prime funding. A full set of articles about all 20 projects can be found here.

Tracking genetic diversity and development of diagnostic tools for maize lethal necrosis viruses in UgandaTracking genetic diversity and development of diagnostic tools for maize lethal necrosis viruses in Uganda

A project assessing the virus diversity associated with maize lethal necrosis and developing ways to identify uncharacterised viruses

Maize is an important staple crop in East Africa. In Uganda, it is a key food security crop, and a source of income for smallholder farmers. Its yield in Uganda is significantly limited by maize lethal necrosis (MLN), which was first reported in Kenya in 2011, and has rapidly spread across Eastern Africa. In Uganda, it was initially reported in eastern border districts, but new cases have been reported in western and northern regions.

The many reports of different virus combinations associated with MLN depict a steadily changing situation. However, no studies have been conducted in Uganda’s major maize growing areas to understand the virus diversity associated with MLN, or interactions with the host.

This project aims to:

  • determine the incidence and severity of MLN in Uganda
  • sequence and identify uncharacterised viruses causing MLN, and
  • develop diagnostic protocols of uncharacterised viruses causing MLN.

The project uses next-generation sequencing and bioinformatics to identify uncharacterised viruses that synergistically interact with maize chlorotic mottle virus (MCMV) to cause MLN, and assess genetic variation in MCMV and other viruses in Uganda.


  • Uganda
  • UK

International research collaboration

  • National Crops Resources Research Institute, Uganda


  • Emmanuel Ogwok (PI)
  • Charlotte Nellist
  • Andrew Armitage
  • Daniel Bomet Kwemoi

Network members can find further details about those involved in the project by logging in to this site as a member, and using the Member Directory.

To become a network member free of charge, use this link.