NIFA Update - Oct. 28, 2020

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Editor: Kelly Sprute                                                                                     October 28, 2020

Making a Difference

Amir Ibrahim, Ph.D., stands in front of the hybridized wheat plots. Photo courtesy of Texas A&M AgriLife by Anil Adhikari.

Amir Ibrahim, Ph.D., stands in front of the hybridized wheat plots. Photo courtesy of Texas A&M AgriLife by Anil Adhikari.

Hybridized Wheat: Seven Years in the Making

One researcher is in Texas. One is in Nebraska. Together, they are striving to launch the hybridized wheat industry. Hybridization is the cross breeding of two genetically different varieties or species. And much like what has been accomplished in cotton and corn, hybridizing wheat is expected to improve the crop’s strength and health and ability to feed a rapidly growing population.

Amir Ibrahim, Ph.D., Texas A&M University AgriLife Research wheat breeder, has spent the past seven years studying the hybridization of wheat in a partnership with University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Stephen Baenziger, Ph.D.

Ibrahim and Baenziger jointly have tested more than 600 lines of hybrid wheat varieties in Nebraska and Texas, and are now developing the necessary knowledge base, germplasm and enhanced trait pools or patterns from these lines to support the development of hybridized wheat. The team’s newest project, “Plant breeding partnerships: Continuing to develop and validate the tools for hybrid wheat,” is supported by a $650,000 USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture Hatch Act - Multistate Research grant. For more information, read the Texas A&M AgriLife article.


In FY20, NIFA invested a total of $40 million in food safety grants and programs. Photo by Getty Images.

NIFA’s Food Safety Programs Help Consumers Stay Safe

Do you remember the last time you got sick from eating something that “didn’t agree with you?” It’s likely you or someone you know has experienced food poisoning. It’s not fun! Unfortunately, the health impact of foodborne illnesses in the United States is considerable. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that each year, roughly 1 in 6 Americans (48 million people) gets sick; 128,000 are hospitalized; and 3,000 die of foodborne illnesses. NIFA seeks to reduce the incidence of foodborne illness and provide a safer food supply by supporting research, education, and extension activities addressing current priority issues and multiple disciplines in food safety. For more information, read the NIFA blog.

In FY20, NIFA invested a total of $40 million in food safety grants and programs.
Photo by Getty Images

News for You

Plant sprouts in a field. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

Leading Global Plant Scientists Press for More Resilient and Resource-Efficient Crop Systems to Combat Climate Change

The Supporters of Agricultural Research (SoAR) Foundation released Developing Global Priorities for Plant Research: Adapting Agriculture to Climate Variability, today. With support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture and in collaboration with Virginia Tech, this report is the outcome of an international workshop with notable plant scientists who developed and prioritized global plant research directions, strategies for cooperation and collaboration, and potential funders for the coming decade. The panel of global plant scientists concluded that strategies for developing crops for increased yield and yield stability under stress from external factors, including climate change, will need to include advanced knowledge of plant genetic diversity, climate variability, and environmental impacts. For more information, read the SoAR article.

Plant sprouts in a field. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

Health care worker. Image courtesy of Getty Images.

New Research Effort Aims to Improve Health Outcomes for Rural Patients

How much will it cost? For many, this question is the most critical determining factor in receiving quality medical care but can be difficult to broach with a health care provider. A new research effort led by the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture aims to better facilitate these conversations, leading to improved health outcomes. “Access to care and following treatment recommendations from a health care provider is often impacted by other expenses, like childcare, transportation, housing or regular bills,” states Christopher T. Sneed, assistant professor and lead investigator for the project. Over the next two years, the research team will develop and test materials for older adults and health care providers that help cost of care conversations take place. “For patients living in poverty, especially in rural areas, out-of-pocket costs can mean the difference between following treatment recommendations and ignoring them completely,” continues Sneed. This effort is supported by a new grant from USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. For more information, read the University of Tennessee article.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images. 

Award Announcements

NIFA Invests in Four Renewable Resource Extension Pilot Projects

NIFA recently awarded four Renewable Resources Extension Act - National Focus Fund Project grants (RREA-NFF). The RREA-NFF program provides funds for pilot projects that: (1) Address emerging forest and rangeland resource issues, (2) Have national or regional relevancy, or (3) Develop new and innovative projects that can be replicated at other institutions.


Image of Prairie View A&M University's Peter Ampim.

Prairie View A&M University's Medicinal Plants and Specialty Crops

PVAMU’s Cooperative Agricultural Research Center (CARC) plays an important role in agriculture, natural resources, and life sciences. The CARC component helps the university fulfill its land-grant mission of teaching, research, and service. The micro green research is funded by a NIFA Specialty Crop Research Initiative grant. For more information, watch the PVAMU video.

Image of Prairie View A&M University's Research Scientist Peter Ampim.

Tweet of the Week

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