CHAMPIONS OF CIAT

Derlyn Lourido,champion in information management: PestDisPlace

Institutional data collection, clean-up, and preservation have been one of the most important assignments of Derlyn Lourido, Data Systems Analyst at CIAT, who has gradually made scientists aware of the importance of sharing their data and implementing the Open Access Policy. 

A success story showing this work is the Application PestDisPlace, which was developed in collaboration with the team of Wilmer Cuellar, Head of Virology and Crop Protection at CIAT, who used the data obtained in their research studies to implement a new tool that would help them monitor the major diseases affecting crops at CIAT, starting with cassava.

“The original idea was having a record of the results from disease diagnosis obtained in different disease diagnostic and surveillance projects, with the purpose of being able to compare them in a single format and making decisions”, Lourido says.

During the discussions to carry out the project, the team found a way to include much more biological and molecular information produced for 50 years in the laboratories at CIAT. An example of this was the data generated by the Entomology Team, which has information on pests and biological control agents in different crops. Data from diseases affecting beans, banana, and citrus fruits were also incorporated.

PestDisPlace, allows you to specify in which part of the world a pest or disease has been reported, and uses a color-coded system to show if the pathogen has been confirmed by molecular diagnosis and not just by the observation of symptoms. Clicking on a tab provides information on a pest or disease, including its genetic information. Thus, experts and government authorities can determine the correct approach to combat it.

At the moment, we are facing a major challenge: the Cassava Mosaic Disease (CMD), which is an emerging disease in Southeast Asia, and different laboratories in the region are organizing coordination meetings to diagnose and monitor the disease. PestDisPlace is a key tool in the communications on CMD in the region.

Wilmer Cuellar

Virologist CIAT

Lourido adds that “the application allows a scientist to filter information in such a way that it can be determined if the disease has been reported, if its presence is suspected there, or if there was a disease-free report. All this work has been carried out as a team and it has been made possible thanks to the implementation of the Open Access Policy. In addition, this tool is an innovative means of transforming the way how we trace and share the information on crop pests and diseases around the world”.

PestDisPlace

At this moment, any scientist can access over a thousand data or reports of outbreaks affecting cassava and other crops, even without having to log into the application. Currently, the data are derived from collaborative projects between CIAT and other research groups in Argentina, Peru, Colombia, Cambodia, Vietnam, and other nations.

The new version includes modules inviting young scientists at CIAT to try metagenomics or artificial intelligence applications to monitor pests and diseases. “As part of the data management team, Derlyn has been capable of taking up the challenge and keeping an effective communication with all participating teams. It has been an example of interdisciplinary work that has made us all proud.

Leroy Mwanzia

Chief Data Officer (Kenya)

 “The creation of this application has allowed the development of a map management and design protocol, which has gained the interest of other teams at CIAT in approaching the data management team to develop new projects. At present, we have 5 mapping applications going on and it is the best thing about taking part in this experience. If we work as a team, we all learn”, Lourido pointed out.

Recently, the team has developed an interface with different tools that allow for the exchange of information with other sources, besides laboratories.

All scientists interested in participating in the PestDisPlace project can enter their data into the tool, which is continuously growing, both in the analysis of new crops pests and diseases and in the incorporation of new useful tools for decision-makers in the countries.

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