NIFA Update Feb. 13

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Editor: Kelly Sprute                                                                                           Feb. 13, 2019

Making a Difference

Lager beer image courtesy of Pixabay.

Behind the world’s most popular alcoholic beverage is a yeast adapted to the cold, and hungry for the sugars it will transform into bubbles and booze. Courtesy of Pixabay.

Success Revealed with Lager Yeast Genes

Lager beer is cold, crisp, dry -- and worth about half a trillion dollars worldwide. Behind the world's most popular alcoholic beverage is a yeast adapted to the cold, and hungry for the sugars it will transform into bubbles and booze. That yeast is a hybrid, an amalgamation of the domesticated baker's yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae and a recently discovered wild species, Saccharomyces eubayanus. Hundreds of years ago, the two species combined their strengths into a cold-fermenting strain that readily produces the crisp, light taste that came to dominate the beer market. In a pair of new papers, University of Wisconsin-Madison Professor of Genetics Chris Todd Hittinger, his graduate student EmilyClare Baker and others show how modern lager yeast adopted the cold-loving and sugar-hungry traits essential to their success. The new research is the first to identify the genetic underpinnings of how two of the most defining features of lager production, cold tolerance and complete fermentation, evolved in S. eubayanus and its hybrid offspring. NIFA supported this work with Hatch project no. 1003258. Read the full University of Wisconsin-Madison article.


Brent Elrod in NIFA’s Institute of Youth, Family & Community.

Other Key Ingredients in the USDA’s Alphabet Soup: NIFA, LGUs, and CES

About the Author

Brent Elrod is the national program leader for Community Development in NIFA’s Institute of Youth, Family & Community.

Utilizing NIFA funding, land-grant university (LGU) faculty and educators developed courses in risk management for agricultural producers, money management for youth, and retirement planning for the “it’s never too late” crowd, setting the table for financial success across the lifespan. When the crop fails and red ink soars, or when junior dips into his college fund to buy the latest model motorcycle, good financial planning can help ward off any need to replace the fine china with paper plates. If a financial setback does occur, lack of awareness, preparation, and early intervention will almost certainly make a challenging situation even more difficult to overcome. This is especially true when a family member illegally accesses and depletes grandma’s savings. The resulting spill can be ugly, debilitating, and leave a permanent family stain. Financial exploitation of an older adult by a family member is a particularly troublesome risk area. Read Brent's article which begins on page 152 of the Department of Justice Journal of Federal Law and Practice “Elder Justice” December 2018 issue.  

International Engagement and Research Cooperation graphic image

International Engagement and Research Opportunities

USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service and NIFA invite you to the Opportunities for International Engagement and Research Cooperation webinar Feb. 28 at 2 p.m. EST. The webinar will focus on funding opportunities to conduct cooperative research; host and mentor foreign scientists; and train foreign agricultural officials, faculty, and policy makers. Learn more about possibilities for international collaborations in your NIFA-funded activities, develop partnerships with other countries. Register for the International Engagement and Research Cooperation webinar Feb. 28, from 2 - 3 p.m. (EST).

News for You

Minority-Serving Institutions America's Underutilized Resource cover image

Minority-Serving Institutions: America's Underutilized Resource for Strengthening the STEM Workforce 2019

There are over 20 million young people of color in the United States whose representation in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education pathways and in the STEM workforce is still far below their numbers in the general population. Their participation could help re-establish the United States’ preeminence in STEM innovation and productivity, while also increasing the number of well-educated STEM workers.

There are nearly 700 minority-serving institutions (MSIs) that provide pathways to STEM educational success and workforce readiness. MSIs' service to the nation provides a gateway to higher education and the workforce, particularly for underrepresented students and those from low-income. Download the MSI America’s Underutilized Resources for Strengthening STEM Workforce book.

Nebraska 4-H Facebook graphic

Nebraska 4-H’ers Participate in National 4-H Conference

Three Nebraska 4-H delegates will make their way to Chevy Chase, Maryland, to participate in the 2019 National 4-H Conference. This year, Nebraska has selected Bailee Lake, Benjamin Soria, and Cole Jacobson. Being selected to represent our state at this conference is one of Nebraska 4-H's highest honors. National 4-H Conference is the pinnacle experience in 4‑H civic engagement, providing the opportunity for young people to connect, learn, engage, lead and impact their communities, their nation, and their world. The unique environment of the program allows delegates to engage with national 4-H, USDA, and NIFA leadership. Read the full Fence Post article.

USDA Messages

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U.S. Commodity Futures Chairman to Speak at USDA’s 2019 Ag Outlook Forum

J. Christopher Giancarlo, chairman of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), will speak at the annual dinner of USDA’s 95th Agricultural Outlook Forum. Giancarlo was unanimously confirmed as CFTC chairman in August 2017, after serving as acting chairman and as a CFTC Commissioner since 2014. The commission is the federal agency that regulates commodity futures markets and protects market participants against fraud, manipulation, and abusive trading practices. Prior to his tenure at CFTC, Giancarlo served as an executive in financial services and information technology, and practiced law with firms in New York and London. He has written and spoken extensively on public policy and legal matters on technology and the financial markets. Read the full USDA press release.

RFA Grant and Award Announcements

Alfalfa Seed and Alfalfa Forage System Program (ASAFS)

ASAFS supports the development of improved alfalfa forage and seed production systems. Proposals submitted to ASAFS should address one or more of the following priorities:

  1. Improving alfalfa forage and seed yield through better nutrient, water and/or pest management;
  2. Improving persistence of alfalfa stands by lessening biotic or abiotic stresses;
  3. Improving alfalfa forage and seed harvesting and storage systems to optimize economic returns;
  4. Improving estimates of alfalfa forage quality as an animal feed to increase forage usage in animal feeds; and/or
  5. Breeding to address biotic and abiotic stresses that impact forage yield and persistence and the production of seed for propagation.

Learn more about ASAFS and the request for applications.

Farm Business Management and Benchmarking (FBMB) Competitive Grants Program

FBMB improves the farm management knowledge and skills of agricultural producers by maintaining and expanding a national, publicly available farm financial management database to support improved farm management. Learn more about FBMB and the request for applications.