Fresh from the Field, Aug. 30, 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                                                                                                    Aug.30, 2018

Success Stories 

Fresh From the Field NIFA Auburn Photo  parasitoid wasp Ooencyrtus nezarae photo credit  Jason Mottern and Rammohan Balusu

Auburn University Identifies Natural Enemy of Crop-Killing Kudzu Bug

Auburn University entomologists have discovered and identified a tiny wasp that could provide a huge benefit to soybean producers and other farmers. Though only about the size of a pinhead, the newly detected parasitoid wasp, Ooencyrtus nezarae, can do plenty of damage to the kudzu bug, a quarter-inch-long invasive pest of soybeans and other legume crops in the Southeast. Researchers in the lab of entomologist Henry Fadamiro were the first to detect the wasp’s presence in North America.

"It is exciting to know that many natural enemies are in the field helping to keep kudzu bug populations under control. With this latest research, we have a potential explanation for the decline in kudzu bug densities across the Southeastern United States," according to Blessing Ademokoya, one of the researchers at Auburn.

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

Read the full story at the Auburn University Newsroom. Photo credit Jason Mottern and Rammohan Balusu-Auburn University.

News Coverage

Soybean cyst nematode and egg SEM USDA photo Fresh From the Field NIFA Impacts

Nematode Can Rebuild Muscle and Neurons After Complete Degradation

What can scientists learn about human neurodegenerative disease from a major soybean pest? It’s not a trick question; the answer lies in the soybean cyst nematode, one of two classes of microscopic roundworms known to lose and then regain mobility as part of their life cycle.

“This is an animal that basically undergoes neurodegeneration, including nearly complete muscle atrophy, and then is able to reverse it in later development. From a human health perspective, I’m excited about the possibilities this could hold,” says Nathan Schroeder, assistant professor in the Department of Crop Sciences at the University of Illinois and corresponding author on the new study.

Applying these findings to human neurodegenerative disease may still be a long way off, but the research could lead to important practical outcomes for soybean pest management. Soybean cyst nematode is the among the worst soybean pests in the United States and the world, causing more than a billion dollars in yield loss annually. Exploiting this mechanism, which appears to be unique to soybean cyst and root knot nematode, another finding in the study, could be very good news for the soybean industry.

NIFA supports this research through the Hatch Act

Read more at the University of Illinois News. USDA Photo.


Medusahead USDA photo Fresh From the Field NIFA Impacts Wyoming

Invasive Grass Management in Wyoming: Proactive Strategies to ‘Stay Ahead of the Curve’

In addition to efforts to predict high-risk areas for cheatgrass, researchers at the University of Wyoming are developing a better understanding of management thresholds to optimize treatment effectiveness. The team is also playing a central role in developing a rapid-response strategy for two newly-documented invasive grasses in Wyoming (medusahead and ventenata). This is the first occurrence of these species in the Great Plains ecoregion, and proactive management actions may help to minimize widespread negative economic and ecological impacts around the state and region.

NIFA supports this research through the Hatch Act. 

Contact: Brian A Mealor, University of Wyoming. USDA photo.

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