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Cloud computing for cassava preservation? Say hello to KENET VLab

Cassava is extensively cultivated as an annual crop and serves as a major staple food in the developing world, providing a basic diet for over half a billion people. Despite being one of the most drought-tolerant crops capable of growing on marginal soils, it is highly susceptible to distinct species of circular single-stranded DNA viruses that are whitefly-transmitted and primarily infect cassava plants.

Prof. Elijah Ateka, Associate Professor of Plant Virology at Jomo Kenyatta University of Science and Technology (JKUAT) and Dr. Laura Boykin from the University of Western Australia collaborate on a research project to diagnose viruses that infect cassava. This data-intensive research, however makes data sharing between Prof. Ateka and his Australian counterpart very tedious and unsuccessful in most cases. The main data generated was sequence data and fell in the range of 1-5 GB. In some instances, Dr. Boykin had to journey from Australia to Kenya to physically transfer and access data.

Enter: KENET’s Virtual Lab (KENET VLab). The platform enabled a high-speed data transfer between researchers across two continents, nearly 10,000 kilometres apart. KENET provisioned a free virtual server with a 5TB storage on the KENET research cloud to facilitate data sharing between a researcher based in Kenya and the other in Australia. Once they were provisioned with the KENET VLab, which can capacitate disk space of 100TB, they were able to virtually collaborate and exchange data at a high speed and in real-time.

Read more about this collaboration! The full story is now up on the In The Field blog.

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