Fresh from the Field, Jan. 11, 2018

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Fresh from the Field is a weekly album showcasing transformative impacts made by grantees supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Editor: Falita Liles                                                                                                    Jan. 11, 2018

Success Stories

Dodder Photo by VA Tech Fresh from the Field

How Parasites Hack Victims to Seize Control of Genes in Plant-To-Plant Warfare

Researchers at Virginia Tech and Pennsylvania State University discovered how a parasitic plant utilizes cross-species gene manipulation to attack its victims. Their discovery may lead to a new method to engineer parasite-resistant plants.

Dodder, a parasitic plant that damages millions of dollars' worth of crops each year, is a stealthy invader that uses a highly sophisticated method of disarming its victims that has never before been seen from a parasitic plant. Its covert communications weaponry system operates much like a computer virus.

"Imagine a battle between host and parasite. In this case, dodder is trying to hack into the host’s information system, and the host is trying to shut it off. MicroRNAs are a new class of weapon being used in the warfare,” according to Jim Westwood at VA Tech.  

NIFA supports the research with Hatch funding.

Read the full article at VA Tech News. Photo courtesy of VA Tech.

News Coverage 

Fresh from the Field Pexel

Eating More Foods with Choline During Pregnancy May Boost Baby’s Cognitive Benefits

When expectant mothers consume sufficient amounts of the nutrient choline during pregnancy, their offspring gain enduring cognitive benefits, a new Cornell University study suggests.

Choline, found in egg yolks, lean red meat, fish, poultry, legumes, nuts, and cruciferous vegetables, has many functions, but this study focused on its role in prenatal brain development.

The researchers at Cornell used a rigorous study design to show cognitive benefits in the offspring of pregnant women who daily consumed close to twice the currently recommended amount of choline during their last trimester. The finding is important because choline is in high demand during pregnancy yet most women consume less than the recommended 450 milligrams per day.

NIFA supports the research through Hatch funding.

Read the full article at the Cornell Chronicle. Photo courtesy of Pexel.

The Library 

Salcedo_Stem_Rust1 Fresh from the Field

Key Discovery in Fight Against Wheat Stem Rust

Kansas State University researchers have identified the mechanism used by wheat to defend against the devastating stem rust disease, a finding they think can help them stay ahead of future disease outbreaks. Wheat stem rust is a devastating disease caused by the fungus, Puccinia graminis f. sp. tritici.

Their work characterizes the relationship between a gene in the fungus that causes stem rust and the gene in wheat that provides resistance to the disease.

“This is one of the first wheat rust avirulence genes characterized where we know the fungal protein and corresponding wheat resistance gene that is interacting with this protein to trigger the resistance response,” said Eduard Akhunov, professor of plant pathology.

NIFA supports this project through the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative.

Read the article at K-State Research and Extension News. Photo courtesy of K-State Research.


Photo by iStock

Youth Gardening Entrepreneurs

In some of the most distressed, urban communities in Columbus, Ohio, something hopeful has taken root. It’s leafy and green, flush with life and promise, sprouting out of verdant towers from which it basks in the light of opportunity. Quite literally, we are talking about the nutritious vegetables being grown by the Urban GEMS (Gardening Entrepreneurs Mentoring Sustainability) program, a positive youth development initiative.

NIFA supports this project through the Children, Youth and Families at Risk program.

Watch the video from BTN Live. Photo courtesy of USDA.

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