Screening cycle for deadly MLN virus set to begin in Kenya during January 2020

By: L.M. Suresh

Maize plants at the MLN screening facility in Naivasha, Kenya. Photo: Jennifer Johnson.

The maize lethal necrosis (MLN) artificial inoculation screening site in Naivasha, Kenya will begin its phenotyping (screening/ indexing) cycle of 2020 at the beginning of January 2020 and in four other intervals throughout the year. Interested organizations from both the private and public sectors are invited to send maize germplasm for screening.

In 2013, the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) and the Kenya Agricultural & Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) jointly established the MLN screening facility at the KALRO Naivasha research station in Kenya’s Rift Valley with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture.

MLN was first discovered in Kenya in 2011 and quickly spread to other parts of eastern Africa; the disease causes premature plant death and unfilled, poorly formed maize cobs, and can lead to up to 100 percent yield loss in farmers’ fields.

CIMMYT and partners are dedicated to stopping the spread of this deadly maize disease by effectively managing the risk of MLN on maize production through screening and identifying MLN-resistant germplasm. The MLN screening facility supports countries in sub-Saharan Africa to screen maize germplasm (for hybrid, inbred and open pollinated varieties) against MLN in a quarantined environment.

This is the largest dedicated MLN screening facility in East Africa. Since its inception in 2013, the facility has evaluated more than 200,000 accessions (more than 300,000 rows of maize) from more than 15 multinational and national seed companies and national research programs.

Partners can now plan for annual MLN Phenotyping (Screening / Indexing) during 2020 with the schedule below. The improved and streamlined approach for MLN phenotyping should enable our partners to accelerate breeding programs to improve resistance for Maize MLN for sub-Saharan Africa.

2020 annual phenotyping (indexing / screening) schedule:

When the seeds are available 
Planting Period – Planned MLN Screening / Indexing
DecemberSecond Week of JanuaryMLN Indexing
MarchSecond week of AprilMLN Screening
JuneSecond Week of JulyMLN Indexing
AugustSecond Week of SeptemberMLN Screening
OctoberSecond week of NovemberMLN Indexing

More information about the disease and resources for farmers can be found on CIMMYT’s MLN portal.

Please note that it can take up to six weeks to process imports and clear shipments.

For assistance in obtaining import permits and necessary logistics for the upcoming screening, please contact:

Dr. L.M. Suresh
Tel: +254 20 7224600 (direct)


United Nations Avenue, Gigiri
P.O. Box 1041–00621
Nairobi, Kenya.

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