Alex Abaca

PhD student (2015-2018)  - Beeching Lab

Alex Abaca

Alex Abaca

4 South, 1.55


  • 2015 – 2019, PhD in Biology - University of Bath, UK. Research area “Towards Genetic Techniques for Identification and Characterization of African common (Phaseolous vulgaris, L) Landraces”
  • 2013 – 2014, MSc in Molecular Plant Sciences – University of Bath, UK. Thesis tittle “Identification and Expression of phenylalanine ammonia lyase (PAL) gene family in Cassava (Manihot esculenta) plants”
  • 2009 – 2012, Master of Science in Crop science (Plant Breeding) – Makerere University, Uganda. Thesis title “Evaluation of local and elite cassava genotypes for their resistance to cassava brown streak disease (CBSD) in Uganda”. This research was conducted at National Crops Resources Research Institute (NaCRRI) – Namulonge.
  • 2004 – 2008, Bachelor of Science in Agriculture (Crop Science) – Makerere University; Uganda. Thesis title: “Agronomic Factors and Practices affecting sweet potato production in Amolatar district”, Northern Uganda

Research Interests

The common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) is an important commodity worldwide, and comprises both dry beans and snap (green) beans. It is widely grown in the temperate and subtropical South, Central and North America, Africa, India and Asia, Europe and Australia. It is a major source of dietary protein throughout both Latin America and Eastern Africa, but per capita consumption is declining as population increases out distance production. The crop was domesticated in the upland regions of Latin America more than 7000 years ago with two centres of origin identified (the Andean and the Mesoamerica). Seed companies (Government, private, and commercial) in developing countries typically supply no more than 20% of seed of most food crops. This implies that farmers are responsible for saving their own seeds for planting in the next season (Genetic conservation of landraces).

Farmers’ seed management and choice of growing environments determine the possible extent of pollen flow between populations or varieties. In terms of seeking genetic response, farmers may practice intentional selection either to create new varieties, best documented in vegitatively propagated and self-pollinating crops. Due to the risks associated with subsistence farming (biotic and abiotic stresses), farmers normally grow two or more varieties of the same crop in the same piece of land. This in turns affects the genetic variation and stability of the varieties being grown. Hence, there is little or no information available on the genetic diversity and stability of the African common bean landraces from Zambia. Information on genetic stability can be useful to farmers in terms of seed registration and marketing in the subsistence dominated agricultural systems.

Based on the above, the main objective of this study is to identify genetic diversity and stability of the four Zambian common bean landraces over a period of three years by looking at 100 individuals of each landrace every year through Morphological, Biochemical and Molecular techniques. A further study will be conducted to associate the four Zambian landraces to the two centres of origin of the common bean and their population structure.


  1. A. Abaca, M. Kiryowa, E. Awori,  Andema, A., Dradiku, F., Moja, A. Sand Mukalazi, J., 2014. Prevalence of cassava pests and diseases as revealed by adaptive trials in North Western agro-ecological zone of Uganda. Journal of Agricultural Sciences, 6 (1): 116-122.
  2. Abaca. A., Kawuki. R., Tukamuhabwa. P., Baguma. Y., Pariyo. A., Orone. J., Alicai.T., Omongo. C.A and Bua. A., 2013. Genetic Analysiss of cassava varieties that are susceptible or tolerant to cassava brown streak disease in Uganda. Journal of Agricultural Sciences, 5 (7):107 – 115
  3. Abaca. A., Kawuki. R., Tukamuhabwa. P., Baguma. Y., Pariyo. A., Orone. J., Alicai.T., Omongo. C.A and Bua. A., 2012b. Evaluation of Local and Elite Cassava Genotypes for Resistance to Cassava Brown Streak Disease (CBSD) in Uganda. Journal of Agronomy, 11 (3): 65-72. DOI:10.3923/ja.2012.65.72
  4. Abaca. A., Kawuki. R., Tukamuhabwa. P., Baguma. Y., Pariyo. A., Alicai.T., Omongo. C.A and Bua. A., 2012a. Progression of Cassava Brown Streak Disease (CBSD) in Infected Cassava Roots in Uganda. Uganda Journal of Agricultural Sciences, 13 (1): 45-51