Animated film explains how human activity spreads plant disease

A short animated film has been released to show how human activity spreads plant disease, in an effort to increase worldwide understanding of biosecurity practices.

The film is the result of an initiative by the Community Network for African Vector-Borne Plant Viruses (CONNECTED), a vector-borne disease network.

Created by Julia Vaccina Makar and Kye Ottley, students from UWE Animation at The University of The West Of England, Bristol, the film used images and other information supplied by a number of researchers working in African countries to ensure authenticity and accuracy.

Marking the United Nations’ International Year of Plant Health 2020, the two-minute film also manages to explain the importance of diagnostic training to help people in the field address the challenges, and outline the role of The CONNECTED Virus Network in providing this training.

The CONNECTED Virus Network, led by Professor Gary Foster from the University of Bristol and and Professor Neil Boonham from CHAP partner Newcastle University, supports research on global issues affecting developing countries. Its aim is to bring together world-class researchers to find ways of tackling crop diseases, caused by plant viruses, which devastate food crops in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Professor Neil Boonham said: ‘The CONNECTED project has been exploring animation with UWE as a way of engaging with a wider stakeholder community, outside of the more traditional science disciplines. This film is focused on how human activity can spread plant diseases. Given we all buy plants and plant products sourced globally, wider understanding of the associated risks is the first step to helping mitigate the impact.’

Prof. Gary Foster added: “With one specific virus currently at the forefront of most people’s minds, it is important we remain aware of the devastating impact viruses of a different type have on food crops relied upon by millions of people in Sub-Saharan African countries.

“Few members of the public, or indeed governments, fully realise just how seriously plant diseases affect these communities. We hope this short animated film contributes towards a better understanding.”

A subtitled version of the film can be viewed on the CONNECTED Vimeo channel here.

CONNECTED is co-funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) as part of the UK government Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) which supports research on global issues affecting developing countries.

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