SBC Member in the News

Researchers and Breweries Focus on the Application of Wild Hops

Friday, December 18, 2015

SBC member and Department of Plant Pathology Assistant Professor Angela Orshinsky, P.h.D., explains how her research on wild hops could help newly discovered wild hops, such as Northern Discovery, flourish in Wisconsin and Minnesotan climates. She is studying whether wild hops have inherent disease resistance traits and hopes to have wild hops applied to Midwestern beer brewing practices.

More honors! SBC Member Receives Outstanding Young Crop Scientist Award

Monday, December 7, 2015

SBC member and Associate Professor of the Department of Agronomy and Plant Genetics Robert Stupar, P.h.D., was awarded the Outstanding Young Crop Scientist Award by the Crop Science Society of America. Dr. Stupar recieved the award at the Annual Meeting, which was held in Minneapolis on Nov. 15-18 2015. Dr. Stupar's research focuses on soybean molecular genetics. Congratulations Dr. Stupar!

Improved US Forest Carbon Accounting Helps Researchers

Friday, December 4, 2015

Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist Matt Russell, P.h.D., of the Department of Forest Resources co-authored a report on new apporaches to forest carbon accouting. These new apporaches will allow scientists and researchers to more accurately understand carbon sequestration in forests. Carbon science is a relatively new branch of science and monitoring forest carbon is a process of continuous improvement as data accumulates. This new approach is highly promising.

Minnesota Corn and Sugarbeet Harvest Rolls along in October

Monday, October 19, 2015

Assistant professor of the Department of Soil, Water, and Climate and SBC member Fabian Fernandez, P.h.D.,was recently asked about various uses of nitrogen applications. He was quoted as saying, “The soil is not a very good place to store N as this nutrient can easily end up in air or water where it can cause environmental degradation,” and that, "Fall N applications compared to pre-plant or sidedress applications often bear greater risk of N loss that can translate into reduced profitability and environmental concerns." The article lists several suggestions on how to appropriately apply nitrogen in the fall, especially with the warm fall temperatures causing daytime soil temperatures to hover around 70 degrees in some places.

Warm Weather Triggers Asian Ladybug Breakout

Monday, October 12, 2015

Asian ladybug beetles are an invasive species that first appeared in the upper Midwest in the mid-1990s. While these beetles may be a benefit for some as one of their primary food sources are soybean aphids, Robert Koch, P.h.D., SBC member and assistant professor of the Department of Entomology and University of Minnesota Extension entomologist, explains how these beetles can damage vineyard crops and ultimately affect the taste of juice and wine. This can cause economic losses.

Wheat Research Needs Boost

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Philip Pardey, was invited to speak at this week's International Wheat Conference in Sydney. He spoke of how more investment is desperately needed to monitor and characterise the breeding evolution of the three rusts - stem, leaf and stripe - and for wheat pre-breeding work to identify resistance genes to develop new advanced breeding lines.

Philip Pardey, P.h.D., is a SBC member and professor and director of the Department of Applied Economics, the International Science and Technology Practice and Policy (InSTePP) Center, the College of Food, Agriculture and Natural Resource Sciences and Director of Global Research Strategy within the Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station.

Report Finds Stripe Rust Costing One Billion Dollars in Lost Wheat Production Worldwide

Monday, September 21, 2015

Professor Philip Pardey, a co-author of the report, estimates that 5.47 million tonnes of wheat are now lost to stripe rust each year, equivalent to a loss of nearly one billion dollars per year. Dr. Pardey explained how the key wheat rust concern for the world could be stripe rust from Australia instead of the more researched pathogen strain, Ug99. Other strains of wheat rust are often overlooked in favor on research on Ug99.

Philip Pardey, P.h.D., is a SBC member and professor and director of the Department of Applied Economics, the International Science and Technology Practice and Policy (InSTePP) Center, the College of Food, Agriculture and Natural Resource Sciences and Director of Global Research Strategy within the Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station.

Agriculture Could be Biggest User of Commercial Drones

Saturday, July 25, 2015

This article describes the story of ever-more sophisticated technology and their role in agriculture. In this case, the technology is remote-controlled drones. Drones are being used to examine whether low-flying specialized cameras can detect soybean aphids, one of the most serious insect pests in the Upper Midwest. The soybeans are divided into subplots where some have been intentionally infested with different concentrations of soybean aphids and some are enclosed in a fine mesh to keep the pests out. The object is to determine whether the images taken by drones will show differences in light wavelengths reflected from the infected and uninfected plants. Both Ian MacRae and Bob Koch are quoted are in the article.

Ian MacRae, P.h.D., and Robert Koch, P.h.D., are both SBCs member, professors of the Department of Entomology and University of Minnesota Extension entomologists.

Precision Farming Targets Major Threat to Soybean Crops

Friday, July 17, 2015

“We’re looking to assess the level of stress that a plant is under and directly associate that with aphid population levels,” explains Ian MacRae. “This is going to change the landscape in crop production.” Dr. MacRae is working with Robert Koch, Ph.D. to pinpoint the exact wavelengths of light that will link what sensors detect from above to severe aphid infestations below. Part of the challenge with their efforts includes separating aphid-related stress from the similar near-infrared light that soybean plants may emit as a result of other afflictions or diseases.

Ian MacRae, Ph.D., and Robert Koch, P.h.D., are both SBC members, professors of the Department of Entomology and University of Minnesota Extension entomologists.

 

Invasive Species uses Ripe Berries as a Host

Thursday, July 16, 2015

What makes the spotted-wing drosophila different from other invasive species is that it affects ripe fruit. Since the flies lay their eggs in fruit that is still growing, there's no outward sign of an infestation. "It changes the game of growing small fruit pretty much across the country," said Chris Philips, Ph.D, an entomologist at the University of Minnesota North Central Research and Outreach Center. "We've kind of been in a scramble these past few years."

The Internet of Things could Save the Honeybee from Extinction

Monday, July 6, 2015

Varroa, a mite infestation that causes Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) can be treated with pesticides, but because pesticides are also thought to be a factor in some CCD cases, controlling the infestation is difficult. Therefore Marla Spivak, Ph.D, a Distinguished McKnight University Professor of Apiculture and Social Insects within the Departmant of Entomology, wants to develop a non-chemical way to control Varroa. She turned to agricultural communications firm Eltopia and machine-to-machine (M2M) communications specialist Gemalto to help figure out a solution.

Plant Denizens get the Big Science Treatment

Monday, July 6, 2015

From 30 June to 2 July, more than 200 researchers gathered in Washington DC for the first meeting of the Phytobiomes Initiative, which is an ambitious proposal to catalogue and characterize a plant's most intimate associates and their impact on agriculture. By the end of the year, attendees hope to carve out a project that will apply this knowledge in ways that will appeal to funders in both industry and government.

"We want to get more money," Linda Kinkel, Ph.D., professor of the Department of Plant Pathology bluntly stated. "But beyond that, let's just all try to talk the same language and come up with some shared goals."

University of Nebraska Simulator Estimates Corn Crop Yields for Minnesota, Other States

Saturday, July 4, 2015

A computer model developed at the University of Nebraska uses current and historic weather information, in addition to other data, to more accurately estimate corn yields and how they change as the growing season progresses.

"They're looking at this as a way to get real-time estimates of crop status that's really location dependent and fairly accurate," said Jeff Coulter, project collaborator, Department of Agronomy and Plant Genetics professor and University of Minnesota Extension Agronomist.

Climate Change: The Good, The Bad, and The Barley

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

"There has been a steady movement of barley north and west, says Kevin Smith, Ph.D., of the Department of Agronomy and Plant Genetics. "That creates significant problems for the malting industry-transportation costs are quite high. We're trying to figure out how to bring barley back to Minnesota, back to where that infrastructure exists," says Smith. 

The Old World Bollworm's Multibillion-dollar Threat

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

A recently published scientific paper estimates the value of U.S. crops exposed to the pest at $78 billion and notes that $843 million worth of crops are grown in conditions that are ideal for the OWB, which has been found in Africa, Asia, Europe and Australia. Those estimates, however, may prove to be conservative, according to one of the paper's co-authors.

"The odds are very good that it will arrive in the mainland sometime in the near future. It could very well arrive in the Southern U.S. [first]" because it prefers warmer climates, said Bill Hutchinson, the chair of the Department of Entomology.

Cold Snap not yet Fatal for Crops

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Jochum Wiersma, University of Minnesota small grains specialist in Crookston, Minn., said he's not worried about the wheat, barley and oats crops because growing points are so far below the ground and protected. Jeff Coulter, University of Minnesota Extension agronomist and corn specialist in St. Paul, said reports from the Crookston area were that the corn is beginning to emerge. He said the growing point for corn remains below the soil surface until the plant is about 18 inches tall, so frost isn't so likely to kill it.

Quest for a Superbee

Friday, May 1, 2015

Problem is, Marla Spivak, Ph.D, a Distinguished McKnight University Professor of Apiculture and Social Insects within the Departmant of Entomology says, RNAi is still a single-purpose tool. Spivak is the only bee researcher ever to receive a "genius" grant from the MacArthur Foundation. "If you target one specific area," she argues, "the organism will always make an end run around it." Staving off the beepocalypse, in her view, ultimately requires a "healthier, stronger" honeybee, one that can fight mites and disease on its own, without human assistance.

Solar Energy Habitats for Pollinators

Monday, April 20, 2015

Two of the world's most respected experts on butterflies and bees see solar energy habitats for pollinators as an opportunity. These two experts, Marla Spivak, Ph.D, a Distinguished McKnight University Professor of Apiculture and Social Insects within the Departmant of Entomology and Karen Oberhauser, Ph.D., professor of the College of Biological Sciences, have worked out a plan to bring nationwide attention to creating more pollinator habitats and they see solar farms as a prime opportunity to make it happen.

Francisco Diez On What Organic Really Means

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

There are four different ways food can be organically labelled. The last two categories are not as common because they are not as attractive for the consumer, according to Francisco Diez, Ph.D., professor and Head of Food Science and Nutrition.

Impact: U of M Apple Breeding Program

Monday, March 30, 2015

This video discusses how Jim Luby and the University of Minnesota breeds and introduces new apple varieties that can perform well in cold climates such as Minnesota-Wisconsin. The University of Minnesota has been breeding apples on this site since 1908.

Jim Luby, P.h.D., is a SBC member and professor of the Department of Horticultural Science.

Raiders of the Wild Grains

Monday, January 5, 2015

Brian Steffenson and Jim Anderson traveled to Israel to collaborate with scientists at Tel Aviv University and to access the Lieberman gene bank at the Institute for Cereal Crops Improvement. Wild, ancient cereal grains may provide a number of benefits to contemporary science: This includes increased genetic diversity and gene resistance among cereal crops.

Jim Anderson, P.h.D., is a SBC member and professor of the Department of Agronomy and Plant Genetics. Brian Steffenson, P.h.D., is Co-Director of the Stakman-Borlaug Center for Sustainable Plant Health and professor plus Lieberman-Okinow Endowed Chair of Cereal Disease Resistance within the Department of Plant Pathology.

Brian Steffenson Continues to Focus on Feeding the World

Monday, January 5, 2015

This edition of Solutions Winter 2014 by Becky Beyers tells the story of two families, two universities and a family business and how the resulting partnership looks for solutions for a more food-secure world by focusing on disease resistant traits in crops. Brian Steffenson, P.h.D., Co-Director of the Stakman-Borlaug Center for Sustainable Plant Health and Professor plus Lieberman-Okinow Endowed Chair of Cereal Disease Resistance within the Department of Plant Pathology is the main point of contact and bind that ties the University of Minnesota together with the Liebermans, Lieberman Companies and Tel-Aviv University.

Putting Up Resistance

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Journalist Kerry Grens visits Brian Steffenson's laboratory to view Ug99, a variant of wheat stem rust. This article details one of the largest hurdles to effectively creating wheat rust resistant crops fast enough to check the spread of wheat rust diseases. Most wheat researchers and breeders agree that to protect plants from Ug99 and other wheat rust pathogens, several rust-resistance varieties must be developed so that if the fungus mutates the crop may still defend itself against the pathogen. However, traditional breeding methods may take years and currently, genetically modifying, or more accurately, engineering DNA within crops to create resistance, is still viewed as a taboo subject.

Brian Steffenson, P.h.D., is Co-Director of the Stakman-Borlaug Center for Sustainable Plant Health and professor plus Lieberman-Okinow Endowed Chair of Cereal Disease Resistance within the Department of Plant Pathology.

Testing Hybrids and Tossing Sandals in the Fight Against 'Wheat Rust'

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Journalist Fred de Sam Lazaro and Brian Steffenson continue their discussion of wheat rust plant diseases and the current research that is attempting to mitigate the damages these diseases cause. The creation of wheat rust resistant hybrids is further complicated by not only the many different varieties of wheat but also its different uses — breads, pastas, crackers, couscous — and the specific taste characteristics each require.

Brian Steffenson, P.h.D., is Co-Director of the Stakman-Borlaug Center for Sustainable Plant Health and professor plus Lieberman-Okinow Endowed Chair of Cereal Disease Resistance within the Department of Plant Pathology.

Scientists in Kenya Try to Fend Off Disease Threatening World's Wheat Crops

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

"There’s been a tremendous amount of diversity that’s left behind after man first domesticated our crops. We’re identifying resistance genes that are effective against Ug99." - Brian Steffenson

In this video Brian Steffenson, co-director of the Stakman-Borlaug Center for Sustainable Plant Health and professor plus Lieberman-Okinow Endowed Chair of Cereal Disease Resistance within the Department of Plant Pathology, discusses research of resistance genes in order to genetically strenghten wheat cultivars. This video further discusses the history of cereal rust diseases, their legacy and how looking at early Fertile Crescent wheat cultivars might help find the right mix of resistence genes.

From Uganda to Minnesota: A Race to Save Food and Humanity

Monday, March 15, 2010

This write-up details the deep and far-reaching global impacts of University of Minnesota work work and research. The article also reviews a related novel. Author Susan Dworkin novelizes real world events surrounding the impacts the University of Minnesota has on global crop research. Additionally, the article provides online data detailing information learned through University of Minnesota research. SBC Members Carol Ishimaru, P.h.D. and Philip Pardey, P.h.D., were quoted. At Dworkin's "Bringing Science to the People: Minnesota's Incomparable Legacy in Saving the World's Wheat." lecture, Carol Ishimaru commented on the difference in available funds in the 1990s versus those available now and Philip Pardey discussed both the precarious position global crop production is in due to plant diseases caused by pathogens and how the University of Minnesota has some of the few laboratories secure enough to research these pathogens. Carol Ishimaru is a professor and Director of Graduate Studies within the Department of Plant Pathology. 

Philip Pardey, P.h.D., is a professor and director of the Department of Applied Economics, the International Science and Technology Practice and Policy (InSTePP) Center, the College of Food, Agriculture and Natural Resource Sciences and Director of Global Research Strategy within the Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station. Carol Ishimaru is Professor and Director of Graduate Studies within the Department of Plant Pathology.