Fresh from the Field, March 29, 2018

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

Editor: Falita Liles                                                                                                 March 29, 2018

Success Stories 


Nanocellulose Effects on Human Food Digestion and Health

A team of scientists is conducting studies that will shed light on ways nanotechnology can impact human health. The team is led by University of Georgia (UGA) food engineer Fanbin Kong, who is studying the safety of nanocellulose and how it affects humans’ food digestion and nutrient absorption. Nanocellulose is a light, solid substance obtained from plant matter, generally wood pulp. It has unique physical chemical properties and can be used in the food industry as a stabilizing agent, a functional food ingredient, and in food packaging production. Scientists know the benefits of nanocellulose, but they don’t know how it behaves in the digestive system once it’s ingested. Kong developed models of the human stomach and intestine that realistically demonstrate the way food breaks down in the human body. These models help test the effectiveness of functional foods and develop new foods aimed at helping those with specific health issues. This project will fill the knowledge gap about the behavior of nanocellulose during digestion and reveal any toxic effects.

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

Read the full story at College News at UGA. Photo of  Fanbin Kong by UGA.

News Coverage 

Graduate students Hyenn Bum Kim (left) and Kwang Soo Lyoo (right) Fresh from the Field NIFA 1005423

Swine Vaccine May Benefit Humans

Scientists at the University of Minnesota have discovered that a single swine vaccine can control both a problematic swine pathogen Lawsonia intracellularis (L. intracellularis) and a harmful human pathogen SalmonellaL. intracellularis causes a disease called “proliferative enteropathy” in swine, characterized by decreased weight post-weaning and diarrhea. Salmonella is linked to over a million human cases of illness in the United States, of which about 10 percent are associated with pork and pork products.

A new study suggests that the vaccination against Lawsonia reduced shedding of Salmonella. It is unclear why this occurs. It is almost certain that the anti-Lawsonia vaccine is not directly responsible for the reduced shedding of Salmonella, however, the vaccine did change the composition of the gut microbiome. The scientists hypothesize that these changes in the microbiome composition led to a reduction in Salmonella. While vaccines that target Salmonella directly are available on the market, this approach offers certain advantages: microbiome manipulations with anti-Lawsonia vaccine can protect against a diversity of Salmonella strains and is a cost-effective practice that is already in place on many farms. This study again confirms a well-established notion that vaccines are an effective way to control most pathogens, with some vaccines offering unexpected "two-for-one" benefits. 

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

Read the Scientific Reports article. Photo credit: UMN. Graduate students Hyenn Bum Kim (left) and Kwang Soo Lyoo (right). 

The Library 

USDA photo grapes Fresh from the Field

Improving Fine Wine Grapes

Grapes are the highest-value fruit crop grown in the United States and researchers at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, University of Maryland, and other land-grant universities are evaluating and improving grapes across the United States. Over 70 percent of the grapes grown are used in wine. As wine grape production expands to new areas in the country, growers need grape varieties suited to their specific growing conditions. Wine producers are also interested in new varieties they can use to create new wines and expand sales.

NIFA supports this research through the Multistate Research Fund.

Read the full article here. USDA photo.


Rachel Beehler, Extension Master Gardener volunteer,Fresh from the Field NIFAImpacts

Gardening with Class

Dave Berger, teacher at Crossroads School and Vocational Center in St. Francis, Minnesota and an extension volunteer Master Gardener, advances his students quest to learn in a schoolyard garden that serves as an outdoor living laboratory. The students at Crossroads have significant challenges, but their story has a lot of heart and the schoolyard gardens feed families in need. Master Gardeners help Minnesota students grow and donate 13,000 pounds of vegetables to food shelves in a single season.

NIFA funds this program through the Smith-Lever Act Capacity Grant

Watch the University of Minnesota Extension video. Photo credit: UMN. Rachel Beehler, extension Master Gardener volunteer.

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Fresh from the Field #NIFAImpacts tweet March 29 AgrAbility