I say TME 419, you say TMe-419

We have received an email from Prof. Z.R. Tesfasion, University of Jos, Nigeria:

This is to inform you that the TME-419 cassava being grown by farmers in the South Western and South Eastern Nigeria was bred by me from TMS-30572. There could also be other genotypes (at least 4) being cultivated by farmers within Nigeria.

This was in response to an old post of ours, dating back to 2012, in which we delved into cassava genebank database hell and asked: Is there more than one TME 419 cassava?1 In particular, we compared cassava accession TMe-419 from the IITA genebank with cassava super-cultivar TME 419, making was and is making waves in West Africa, as described in IITA’s Improved Cassava Variety Handbook.

Is the shape of the leaf’s central lobe lanceolate or elliptic? Is there or is there not pigmentation on the petiole? Is the colour of the root pulp white/cream or yellow? And does it have a purple cortex or not? A discrepancy in one of these descriptors I might have understood, but it is clear to me that we’re talking here about quite different cassavas.

So I ask IITA: which one is the real TME 419? I mean the one making news in DR Congo and Nigeria.

The answer, thanks to Prof. Tesfasion, is that the cultivar being widely adopted in Nigeria and elsewhere is, perhaps unsurprisingly, the TME 419 described in the Improved Cassava Variety Handbook. The TMe-419 accession is a different thing, the similarity in handles notwithstanding. The name of the former came from a breeding programme, that of the latter from the genebank, and the two of them did not compare notes quite as much as they perhaps should have done. A problem that DOIs will no doubt alleviate in the future.

What’s TMS-30572? Ah, that’s another story.

  1. This wander down memory lane, for which we heartily thank Prof. Tesfasion, has given us the opportunity to update some of the links, which had deteriorated somewhat. []

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