maize disease

New online portal gives insights into deadly maize disease

A new online portal provides the necessary information for southern African farmers, researchers and governments to arm themselves against the threatening maize disease, maize lethal necrosis (MLN).

Scientists have named the MLN disease as one of the most threatening diseases to one of southern Africa’s most important food sources, namely maize with the already present fall armyworm and red locust.

A new MLN portal, offered by the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT), however provides farmers with pro-active tools to arm themselves with the necessary knowledge on the disease.

The portal provides online details on the spread of the disease, where the disease was managed and controlled and how to identify the disease in the field. There is also information on important MLN publications, surveillance software MLN incidence maps, tolerant hybrids and regional screening.

“The MLN portal enables researchers to comprehensively assess the situation with regards to MLN, helps strengthen the national disease monitoring and diagnostic systems by providing faster and accurate data, and offers access to CIMMYT-offered MLN plant technology, Dr. Bodupalli Prasanna, Director of the Global Maize Program at CIMMYT wrote in a news article on the CIMMYT website.

The site was compiled by scientists who joined forces with CIMMYT with the support from the United States Agency for International Development.


MLN was first identified in Africa in 2011 in Kenya and is the result of a double infection by the Maize Chlorotic Mottle Virus and cereal viruses like the Sugarcane Mosaic. A severe infection can cause the complete destruction of a maize field. The disease is spread via insects and infected seeds.

The disease is yet to spread to southern Africa, but in a recent article Bradeley Flette and Kingstone Mashingaidze from the South African Grain Crops institute wrote that pathologists recon the disease might have already spread to Tanzania and northern Mozambique, and is this troubling for main maize producing countries in the region.

In another effort to enable the region t to prepare itself against the disease a MLN quarantine facility was opened earlier this year in Zimbabwe to enable the safe introduction and exchange of new maize germplasm from CIMMYT to other partners in southern Africa.

Read more about the disease:

The portal –

Grain SA –


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