NIFA Update, Nov. 9

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The NIFA Update is a weekly compendium of news and information that may be of interest to Land-Grant and non-Land-Grant Universities, NIFA stakeholders, and other subscribers. Editor: Judy Rude

Nov. 10, 2016

Success Story


Nematode Resistance in Soybean

A NIFA-funded research team led by Dr. Andrew Bent at the University of Wisconsin uncovered the molecular mechanism of a very widely used soybean trait for cyst nematode resistance. The findings, published in this week’s online early edition of PNAS, will be useful in developing soybean varieties with increased resistance to the most economically damaging soybean disease. Soybean cyst nematode resistance is encoded by Rhg1, a tandemly repeated gene cluster within the soybean genome encoding proteins that are essential to normal cell function. Soybean cyst nematodes rely on normally functioning soybean cells to be able to trick the cell machinery into making feeding sites that support nematode growth. But how can a mutation in a soybean gene required for normal cell function be detrimental to the nematode without being detrimental to the plant? Bent’s team found that resistant soybeans have both resistance-conferring (mutant) and standard genes encoding this protein. The version of the protein that impairs normal cell function becomes more abundant at soybean cyst nematode feeding sites, preventing nematode growth. Meanwhile, the normally functioning version of the protein dominates throughout the rest of the plant, enabling normal cell function and plant growth.

Cathie Woteki

People Behind Scientific Innovation at USDA

Posted by Dr. Cathie Woteki, Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics, Nov. 4

The past eight years have been an extraordinary time for agricultural science, and for the application of new insights from other fields to enhance agricultural productivity and the overall agricultural economy. As the final days of this administration are approaching, it gives me a great deal of pride to look back at what USDA has accomplished in the areas of research and innovation. 

Scientific research is a fundamental part of our mission at USDA. But, ultimately, what’s behind all the science is people – people who do the research and people who are affected by it. As USDA’s Chief Scientist and Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics, I’ve met and worked with both as I’ve traveled across the country and around the world. 

Continue to read Dr. Woteki's USDA Blog to learn more about the people behind the research. 

DUNS and EIN Information

If you are a NIFA stakeholder/grantee and want to receive your grant funds in a timely manner, please:

  • Verify that your Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS)
  • Employee Identification Number (EIN) information
    are active in the
  • System for Awards Management (SAM)
    and correct on your
  • Grant Application (SF-424)
    prior to
  • ASAP enrollment

Note: If there are changes to your DUNS/EIN information, you must resubmit a revised SF-424 to NIFA’s Awards Management Administrative contact.  Please direct all ASAP questions or concerns to

2017 BFRDP RFA and Webinar

The 2017 Request for Applications (RFA) for the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP) is posted. Applications are due by 5 p.m. Eastern Time on Dec. 8, 2016. A webinar is offered for interested applicants: The webinar will review and the application process. It is hosted by the New Entry Sustainable Farming Project as part of a BFRDP Education Enhancement Team grant to develop resources and tools to support inexperienced applicants. Register here for the Nov. 16 webinar, and visit New Entry's BFRDP Assistance Page for more information and help from this project.

fire ants

Foresight Received Phase I SBIR to Research Novel Method of Fire Ant Control

Foresight Science & Technology, Inc. (Foresight) has received a Phase I SBIR grant from NIFA to further develop a novel biologically-based method to manage invasive and native pest ant populations, primarily invasive, imported red fire ants. If successful, the grant will provide proof of concept for the use of a naturally-occurring, species-specific commercial control method to prevent the spread of fire ants that is based on biologically active compounds identified and chemically recreated by Dr. Tappey Jones of the Virginia Military Institute (VMI). The principal investigator for Foresight, Dr. Satya Chinta, will be conducting the research in collaboration with Dr. Robert Vander Meer at the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) facility in Gainesville, Florida. The Foresight interaction with the USDA-ARS is supported by a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) and by collaboration with VMI and the VMI Foundation.

Cenusa bioenergy

Free Online Course on Perennial Grasses and Energy Production

An Iowa State University-based research project has designed a free online course available to anyone interesting in learning about the energy-production potential of perennial grasses. The massive open online course, or MOOC, allows those who enroll to work at their own pace through a range of multimedia materials focused on the vast possibilities perennial grasses have to drive sustainable energy production. The course arose from the efforts of CenUSA Bioenergy, a research project led by Iowa State and funded by the USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture.