Modeling virus coinfection to inform management of maize lethal necrosis in Kenya

Frank M. Hilker, Linda J.S. Allen, Vrushali A. Bokil, Cheryl J. Briggs, Zhilan Feng, Karen A. Garrett, Louis J. Gross, Frédéric M. Hamelin, Michael J. Jeger, Carrie A. Manore, Alison G. Power, Margaret G. Redinbaugh, Megan A. Rúa, Nik J. Cunniffe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Maize lethal necrosis (MLN) has emerged as a serious threat to food security in sub-Saharan Africa. MLN is caused by coinfection with two viruses, Maize chlorotic mottle virus and a potyvirus, often Sugarcane mosaic virus. To better understand the dynamics of MLN and to provide insight into disease management, we modeled the spread of the viruses causing MLN within and between growing seasons. The model allows for transmission via vectors, soil, and seed, as well as exogenous sources of infection. Following model parameterization, we predict how management affects disease prevalence and crop performance over multiple seasons. Resource-rich farmers with large holdings can achieve good control by combining clean seed and insect control. However, crop rotation is often required to effect full control. Resource-poor farmers with smaller holdings must rely on rotation and roguing, and achieve more limited control. For both types of farmer, unless management is synchronized over large areas, exogenous sources of infection can thwart control. As well as providing practical guidance, our modeling framework is potentially informative for other cropping systems in which coinfection has devastating effects. Our work also emphasizes how mathematical modeling can inform management of an emerging disease even when epidemiological information remains scanty.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1095-1108
Number of pages14
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2017


Dive into the research topics of 'Modeling virus coinfection to inform management of maize lethal necrosis in Kenya'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this