This article is one in a series outlining the 20 research projects which are funded by CONNECTED in its pump-prime funding programme. Read all the available articles.

Understanding the spread of maize disease

A project tackling existing barriers to understanding the epidemiology of Maize Lethal Necrosis

Maize Lethal Necrosis (MLN) disease seriously threatens Kenya’s most important cereal crop and dietary carbohydrate source.

This project aims to tackle existing barriers to understanding its epidemiology and to improve its control. Its three elements will create a platform for future work to identify, combat and eradicate it:

  • Using next-generation sequencing to identify viruses in affected plants, and recreate mixed virus infections under controlled conditions
  • Identifying insect vector species that transmit associated viruses by DNA barcoding and the use of next-generation sequencing to identify viruses carried by potential insect vectors present in affected Kenyan fields
  • Improving diagnostics for sugar cane mosaic virus: a prevalent virus in diseased maize plants.

The project is using existing plant health outreach networks and media contacts in Kenya to share key information on MLN diagnosis and control to farmers, consumers and policymakers.


  • Kenya
  • UK

International research collaboration

  • Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization
  • University of Cambridge, UK


  • John Carr (Principal investigator)
  • Jane Wamaitha Mwathi
  • Paul Kuria

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

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