Head of Germplasm Health Unit / Virologist
Tel: +234 0700800IITA, +1 201 6336094, Ext. 2345
Station: Nigeria (Ibadan)
Lava Kumar is the Head of the Germplasm Health Unit, and Virology and Molecular Diagnostics Unit at IITA. His research programs are focused on (a) protecting germplasm health from pathogens and pests; (b) tackling virus diseases of IITA crops (cassava, yam, banana/plantain, cowpea, soybean, and maize), cacao, and vegetables; (c) developing convenient diagnostic tools for identification of pathogens (viruses, bacteria, fungi, and phytoplasma), pests and mycotoxins (aflatoxins); and (d) conducting training courses and workshops in plant disease diagnostics and control, and also higher degree training, leading graduate and postgraduate students to M.Sc. or Ph.D. degrees.
He has been leading several R4D projects executed in collaboration with universities, NARS, and ARIs. Some of these key areas of research include:
- Characterization of viruses and mechanisms of virus–host-vector interactions
- Characterization of diversity and distribution of whitefly-transmitted cassava viruses (cassava mosaic and cassava browns streak)
- Understanding the mechanisms of Maize streak virus (MSV) resistance in maize and developing MSV-resistant germplasm.
- Inheritance of multiple virus resistance in cowpea and development of multiple virus- resistant cowpea varieties
- Characterization and development of robust diagnostics for viruses infecting yam in West Africa
- Developing convenient diagnostic tools for pathogens of food crops in West Africa
- Ensuring health of germplasm held in the IITA gene bank; and facilitating safe exchange of germplasm.