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Research exchange with the Department of Plant Pathology, Minnesota, United States of America

Jenny Vo travelled to the University of Minnesota to meet with Professor Ben Lockhart, so he could teach her purification techniques for sugarcane bacilliform virus (SCBV). Also, while at the University Jenny had the opportunity to complete experiments that directly contributed to her PhD project CRC60107: Nano Bananas. The experiments focused on the production of immunodiagnostic reagents to the viruses causing banana streak disease. Through the completion of these experiments Jenny learnt many new techniques and also had the opportunity to discuss research objectives and strategies with Professor Ben Lockhart and Dr Neil Olszewski.


Professor Ben Lockhart and Dr Neil Olszewski are world experts on badnaviruses. Over a period of 30 years they have accumulated many ‘firsts’ to their names, including the first description of the virus genus and several virus species within such as banana streak virus (BSV) and sugarcane bacilliform virus (SCBV). They where also the first to report of a plant virus infection (BSV) resulting from activation of viral DNA inserted in the plant genome. Professor Lockhart has also developed a purification method for SCBV utilising the cane of the sugarcane plant, which yields high concentrations of very pure virus. Learning this purification protocol has greatly assisted Jenny in achieving the research objectives of her PhD project.


The three major components of a control program for all viruses of banana are the prompt destruction of infected plant, the provision of clean planting material through quality-assured nursery schemes and the implementation of domestic and international quarantine policies to prevent the long-distance movement of viruses. These control strategies rely on good virus detection assays and a major weakness in our diagnostic capacity is still the ability to detect the badnaviruses causing banana streak disease. Experimental work done while at the University will help address this biosecurity problem.


This travel has contributed to Jenny’s education in plant virology and better equipt her for a career in plant biosecurity research after completion of her PhD.


When: June 2009
Location: Minnesota, USA

Jenny Vo travelled to Minnesota to meet with world experts on badnaviruses, Professor Ben Lockhart and Dr Neil Olszewski.