Thailand is the world’s largest cassava products exporter, with an estimated THB 100 billion export value. A alarming spread of Sri Lankan cassava mosaic virus (SLCMV) has been observed in Thailand in recent years, resulting in severe cassava production losses. The strategy to deal with the outbreak is to destroy infested plants and use virus-free planting materials.
BIOTEC-NSTDA successfully developed an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) for the SLCMV detection. The test is an important tool for preparing virus-free planting materials as well as for disease surveillance and management. The technology has been transferred to interested public and private organizations. Five laboratories have been established for performing ELISA for the SLCMV detection with the support provided by NSTDA. The laboratories are located at Sanguan Wongse Industries in Nakhon Ratchasima, FD Green (Thailand) in Kamphaeng Phet, the Office of National Farmers Council in Nakhon Ratchasima, Asia Modified Starch in Kalasin, and Rajamangala University of Technology Isan in Nakhon Ratchasima.
Mr. Sornsin Kuptrakoon, FD Green (Thailand) Business Manager, explained that the company is a subsidiary of Ajinomoto Thailand, established as ‘Green Business Model’ in managing ‘Co-products’ derived from the Ajinomoto production processes. In 2021, the company set up a laboratory to perform SLCMV testing with DAS-ELISA (double antibody sandwich EISA) technique. Last year, the lab tested more than 3,500 samples. FD Green (Thailand) also established a greenhouse and a demonstration plot to produce disease-free stem cuttings and plantlets for distributing to growers. Over 150,000 stem cuttings and plantlets have been distributed. The company now works with growers in Kamphaeng Phet to promote the production and use of disease-free plants for better production, planning to achieve 500-rai (60 ha) planting area this year, and 1,000 rai (120 ha) next year.
Recently, BIOTEC Monoclonal Antibody Production and Application Research Team developed a rapid strip test for the SLCMV detection that offers more convenience to users. The rapid test does not require a trained expert and scientific equipment and therefore can be used in the field. It can provide results in 15 minutes, with 95% accuracy, 100% specificity and 89% sensitivity. Workshops have been organized to introduce this rapid strip test to growers, enterprises and government agencies.
Apart from disease diagnosis, BIOTEC also developed technology and innovation to support cassava production industry. Both tissue culture technology and mini stem cutting technique have been transferred to and applied by the industry to produce quality planting materials.