National Animal Genome Project

Studying the genome of cattle has provided insights into health and physiology that are being used around the world to improve cattle genetics (Photo: Antonio Medrano)

Studying the genome of cattle has provided insights into health and physiology that are being used around the world to improve cattle genetics (Photo: Antonio Medrano)

Who cares and why?

Over the next 20 years, demand for meat and dairy products is expected to increase 40% to 50%. Animal agriculture must evolve quickly in order to  meet future production needs. Genomics—the study of an organism’s entire sequence of genes—is a driving force behind innovative agricultural technologies and practices. Using genome information to adjust breeding practices can lead to animals that are healthier, faster-growing,  diseaseresistant, and adapted to stressful or changing environmental conditions. Addressing these challenges can reduce costs and losses for farmers and improve public health. Higher-quality products can also increase consumer satisfaction. Furthermore, genomics can highlight new ways to  manage animal agriculture systems so that they are more efficient and environmentally-friendly. However, animal genome research is complicated and  costly. Tools and gene sequence information are often unaffordable for individual researchers or single institutions. Some scientists may be unfamiliar  with newly-available technologies and reluctant to adopt them. In order to advance animal genome research and the variety of possible uses,  collaboration among researchers is essential.

How did this project enable research?

Since 1993, NRSP-8 has supported the National Animal Genome Research Program, which has played a major role in genomic discoveries in farm  and aquaculture species. NRSP-8 participants represent 37 universities, three government agencies, and four private research institutions. By  bringing together researchers, setting up an efficient system for sharing resources, and leveraging diverse funding, NRSP-8 has overcome barriers  due to cost and lack of expertise.

Similarly, the genomic map of the chicken has laid the foundation for poultry biotechnology (Photo: USDA-ARS).

Similarly, the genomic map of the chicken has laid the foundation for poultry biotechnology (Photo: USDA-ARS).

In particular, better access to state-of-the-art tools, genome maps, gene sequence information, and other data have  stimulated new research avenues and capabilities. NRSP-8 support and member input has led to genome sequences of many agriculturally- important species, including pigs, horses, cattle, chickens, sheep, Pacific oysters, and many fish. By identifying variations between the DNA  sequences in animals of the same species, researchers have been able to determine how these differences lead to different traits in the animals. Using the technology and information made available by NRSP-8, independent research laboratories and commercial breeding companies have  determined the genetic makeup of thousands of animals.

Researchers have also located genes associated with specific traits related to growth, feed  use, fertility, stress tolerance, and meat tenderness and have made strides in understanding the role of genetics in a wide variety of infectious  diseases and inherited disorders.

Coordination has also helped maintain special populations of crossbred and inbred animals for intensive study. To  deal with the massive quantities of information that have grown out of such research, NRSP-8 members have developed tools for efficient data  storage, sharing, and analysis.

They have also co-authored hundreds of peer-reviewed publications, organized conferences, and published  newsletters and outreach materials that connect their research with industry members, farmers, and other stakeholders.

Impact Statements:

  • Fostered collaboration and sharing among scientists and government, academic, and industry stakeholders worldwide.
  • Developed cutting-edge, economical tools and techniques used by animal genome researchers worldwide. For example, new databases help  researchers and farmers manage data and select proper animals for studies and breeding.
  • Increased customer satisfaction through genetic  discoveries that help farmers breed animals with improved growth, taste, tenderness, and nutritional qualities.
  • Provided information needed to breed animals with better stress tolerance and disease resistance, thus reducing losses for farmers and protecting public health.
  • Provided genome information for rare, endangered, and wild animals, helping preserve their global heritage.
  • Advanced human genetic and biomedical research through studies that revealed new similarities between animals, especially pigs, and humans.

    Genomic tools developed by NRSP-8 are being used to breed horses that are healthier and can perform better (left, photo by Allen Page Photography). Genetic discoveries about growth, feed use, disease resistance, and meat tenderness in fish, cattle, and pigs (middle, photo courtesy of PIC) help assure a supply of high-quality food products, like salmon steaks (right, photo courtesy of Andrea Pokrzywinski, Flickr).

    Genomic tools developed by NRSP-8 are being used to breed horses that are healthier and can perform better (left, photo by Allen Page Photography). Genetic discoveries about growth, feed use, disease resistance, and meat tenderness in fish, cattle, and pigs (middle, photo courtesy of PIC) help assure a supply of high-quality food products, like salmon steaks (right, photo courtesy of Andrea Pokrzywinski, Flickr).

How did the project leverage funds?

leveragedfunds

For the multistate program including NRSPs, leveraging shall mean funding brought to bear on the project objectives regardless of source.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Want to know more?

Regional Administrative Advisors: Eric Young, Thomas Burr, & Bert Stromberg

Download the printable PDF!

National Research Support Projects (NRSPs) are funded collectively by Agricultural Experiment Station directors’ contributions from federally  appropriated funds for multistate research. The Hatch Multistate Research Fund was established in 1998 by the Agricultural Research, Extension, and Education Reform Act (an amendment to the Hatch Act of 1888) to support research activities that address high-priority issues facing U.S. agriculture, natural resources, food and nutrition, and rural communities. Drawing on the strengths of the land grant universities and their partners, NRSPs have a unique capacity for enabling multidisciplinary, multistate collaboration and leveraging funding from far-ranging sources. 

Improving the End-use Quality of Wheat

WERA-1009 (2007-2012): This project improved the quality of existing and new wheat varieties, giving   growers more profitable choices, helping U.S. wheat compete in domestic and international markets, and providing a  stable supply of high quality wheat products for industrial partners and consumers.

Jianli Chen stands in fields of University of Idaho varieties. Most Western states test new wheat varieties during on-farm trials to determine how they are affected by environmental conditions and how well they could adapt to different farm settings. Photo by Cindy Snyder.

Who cares and why?

There are many varieties of wheat, each with unique traits that influence its quality and how it can be used. Because they have diverse uses  for wheat, different industrial partners prefer specific varieties. In the Pacific Northwest (PNW), about 85% of the wheat is exported, mostly  o Asian and Middle Eastern countries where it is made into noodles, cookies, steamed breads, flat breads and other similar  products. The total market value of U.S. wheat exported to Asian countries alone is estimated at over $400 million per year; however,  exports have been declining over the last 20 years because of increased competition from Australia, Canada and eastern European  countries. In order to remain competitive, PNW producers need to be continually improving overall grain quality and developing innovative  wheat varieties. This requires a clear understanding of how wheat quality is affected by genetics and agricultural practices, such  as tilling, fertilizing, and processing. The farming community and wheat industries must collaborate to set quality standards and make sure  that technologies and practices protect wheat quality. If wheat quality is not improved, U.S. wheat producers will not be able to provide a steady supply of high quality wheat for industrial partners and consumers.

Bon Lee conducts bread baking tests in the Wheat Marketing Center lab. Measurements of texture and other qualities tell wheat breeders and industrial partners which wheat varieties are best suited for baking. Photo by Andrew Ross.

What has the project done so far?

This project has created a multidisciplinary committee that has shared wheat quality information among growers, researchers, and  industrial partners. Using standardized testing methods that they developed, WERA-1009 scientists have evaluated wheat quality and  measured how it is affected by specific plant genes, environmental factors, and grower practices. Over the last five years, the group has  developed and released a number of unique new varieties of spring and winter wheat that have been top-yielding and have demonstrated  excellent pest resistance, extreme weather tolerance, and desirable traits, such as better coloration and softness. Many of these varieties  have become the most planted wheat varieties in western states. For their accomplishments, WERA-1009 received the Western Association of Agricultural Experiment Station Directors Award of Excellence in Multistate Research in 2012.

Impact Statements:

  • Engaged scientists and domestic and foreign industrial partners in research and development that led to improved wheat quality.
  • Reduced  economic losses due to poor crop yield and/or quality and enhanced wheat production’s resilience to climate change by developing and  releasing new wheat varieties that are high yielding, drought tolerant, disease resistant, and/or have desirable traits for diverse uses.
  • Improved farmers’ understanding of how their agricultural practices impact the ways their wheat crops can be used, thus helping them  select higher quality varieties, use best management practices, and ultimately earn more for their crops.
  • Promoted domestic and  international wheat trade by using knowledge about the quality and uses of different wheat varieties to predict how they will behave  in  markets and by increasing the overall acreage of valuable wheat varieties across the western region.

With the exception of soft red wheat, all classes of wheat are grown in the Western region. Photo by Rob Valkass, Flickr.

What research is needed?

Environmental conditions are constantly changing, as are customer needs. The median income level of Asian and Middle Eastern countries  is increasing, which translates into increased demand for existing and new wheat products. Additional research on the genetics and  environmental factors that affect wheat quality is needed so that the wheat industry can continue to adapt to climate change, new pests and  changing customer needs. All western states are encouraged to participate in wheat breeding and testing programs. There is also need to  begin investigating how different qualities of wheat affect human health.

Want to know more?

Download the printable PDF!

Administrative Advisors: Russ Karow and Bill Boggess.

This project was supported in part by the Multistate Research Fund (MRF) established in 1998 by the Agricultural Research, Extension, and  education Reform Act (an amendment to the Hatch Act of 1888) to encourage and enhance multistate, multidisciplinary research on critical  issues that have a national or regional priority. Additional funds provided by contracts and grants to participating scientists. For more information, visit https://www.waaesd.org/.

Management of Pesticide Resistance

WERA-060 (2007-2012): This multidisciplinary project continues to develop resources, tools, and methods  that significantly reduce the threat of pesticide resistance, thus helping to sustain the usefulness of important pest  management tools and strategies, reduce losses from pest damage, and protect public and environmental health.

Who cares and why?

A graduate student working with a WERA-060 scientist samples plants for pesticide-resistant gummy stem blight. Photo courtesy of Katherine Stevenson, University of Georgia.

Pesticides are important tools used in managing pest populations; however, some individual pest organisms are naturally resistant to  pesticides. These resistant individuals survive and reproduce, passing on genetic resistance to generation after generation until most of the  population is resistant and certain pesticides are no longer effective. In recent years, use of conventionally applied herbicides, fungicides,  and insecticides has increased significantly and pesticide resistance has multiplied rapidly. In addition, some insect pests have developed  resistance to insecticidal proteins that are expressed in genetically modified plants. When resistance develops and commonly-used  pesticides fail to control pest populations, damage to crops, property, and landscapes intensifies and costs skyrocket. For example, cotton  growers in the southeastern U.S. face serious crop losses due to weeds that are resistant to the commonly-used pesticide, RoundUp®.  Soybeans, rice, and other crops are expected to face similar problems soon. Pesticide resistance often leads to overuse or misuse of pesticides, risking harm to the environment and public health and making the crops less desirable to certain markets and consumers.  Quickly and successfully addressing pesticide resistance requires the work of scientists from many disciplines and up-to-date information. Managing pesticide resistance also relies on persistent monitoring and consistent, effective strategies in the field. Better management of  pesticide resistance will lead to improved protection from pests, a more stable supply of quality crops for consumers, better profits for  growers, and healthier humans, animals, and environments.

In the lab, tests revealed that the gummy stem blight is resistant to multiple types of pesticides. The gummy stem blight samples that are resistant to pesticides continued to grow in the petri dishes. Chart courtesy of Katherine Stevenson, University of Georgia.

What has the project done so far?

Over the past five years, WERA-060 researchers and extension specialists have worked with industry representatives and government  regulators to develop resources, tools, and methods for managing pesticide resistance. Researchers have detected resistance in a wide  variety of pests—including insect pests, plant pathogens, and weeds in cotton, peanut, corn, squash, and melon—and have described how  resistance develops in many situations. Scientists have also developed guidelines for preventing pesticide overuse and misuse and have  evaluated how well new pesticides control pests and how quickly, if ever, pests develop resistance. Other studies have determined how new  pesticides impact non-target species and the economy and how well they are accepted by users and communities. In addition, researchers  have investigated how to block the genes and specific mutations that cause pesticide resistance. To share research findings, the group has  organized symposia about pesticide resistance management, produced over 20 educational videos (http://ag.arizona.edu/crops/vegetables /videos.html), revised and expanded training programs, delivered updates to farmers via web, email, and smart phone  (http://ag.arizona.edu/crops/vegetables/advisories/advisories.html), organized online databases, and distributed newsletters.

Impact Statements:

  • Even though many kochia plants— highly invasive weeds—were killed by RoundUp® treatments, a track of healthy kochia plants grew in the field above when a a single RoundUp®-resistant plant shed its seed as it tumbled across the field in the wind. Photo by Andrew Wiersma, Colorado State University.

    Advanced data, tools, and strategies for preventing or delaying the evolution of pesticide resistance in pest populations by enabling   cooperative research and extension.

  • Helped farmers, pesticide manufacturers, and regulators make more economically and environmentally sustainable decisions by sharing data, tools, and recommendations.
  • Helped users choose and apply pesticides properly by  developing and updating management guidelines. Proper pesticide use prevents resistance build up, reduces damage from pests, saves time and money, minimizes pollution, and lowers health risks.
  • Detected new cases of pesticide resistance, getting the upper hand on these cases  before they cause serious problems.
  • Made it easier to monitor pesticide resistance by creating the Arthropod Pesticide Resistance Database  (APRD), which has encouraged online pesticide resistance case reporting and has become the most complete database on resistant  organisms in the world. Pest managers, industry specialists, researchers, the EPA, and the EU use the database to support pesticide   registration and decisions about managing cases of pesticide resistance.

What research is needed?

Along with weeds, plant pathogens can also develop resistance to pesticides. For example, fungicide-resistant powdery mildew can severely damage pumpkin crops. Photo by Meg McGrath, Cornell University.

There is a critical need for scientists to quickly develop ways to combat pesticide resistance and to work with policymakers to set guidelines  for using and enforcing these tactics. RoundUp®-resistant weeds and Neonicotinoid-resistant insects are of immediate importance. In  general, research is needed to better understand the biology and genetics that underlies pesticide resistance and to ensure more precise and accurate predictions about when and where pesticide resistance may develop.

Want to know more?

Download the printable PDF!

Administrative Advisors: Tom Holtzer  and Lee E. Sommers.

This project was supported by the Multistate Research Fund (MRF) established in 1998 by the Agricultural Research, Extension, and  education Reform Act (an amendment to the Hatch Act of 1888) to encourage and enhance multistate, multidisciplinary research on critical  issues that have a national or regional priority. For more information, visit https://www.waaesd.org/

Bioactive Dietary Chemicals

W-2122 (2006 – 2011): This project advanced our understanding of bioactive dietary chemicals that can be either beneficial or harmful to human health, thus identifying  ways to improve food safety, prevent common diseases, and ensure that consumers have a safe, healthy food supply. What has the project done so  far?

Salmon is a source of omega-3 fatty acids, bioactive chemicals that promote cardiac health (photo by Andrea Pokrzywinski).

Who cares and why?

Bioactive chemicals can be found naturally in foods or introduced during food processing. These chemicals can have both beneficial and undesirable  effects on human health. For example, certain fungal compounds found in corn, ground nuts, and tree nuts can damage DNA and promote cancer.  Conversely, omega-3 fatty acids produced by plants and algae and concentrated in certain fish species can promote cardiac health. In recent years,  the herbal products and food supplement industry, valued at an estimated $20 billion per year in the U.S., has taken off. Effective products could  reduce medical costs and provide farmers with new specialty crop opportunities; however, inadequate quality control and understanding of  potential toxicity could allow harmful substances to enter the food supply. Therefore, understanding the complex relationship between bioactive  dietary chemicals and human health is a paramount concern to consumers, agricultural producers, food processors, health professionals, and policymakers charged with maintaining a safe and nutritious food supply.

What has the project done so far?

Aspergillus species of fungi produce mold toxins that are potent carcinogens and can lead to serious human health problems when consumed (left photo courtesy of IITA). Another common fungal disease on corn ears, fusarium ear rot, can produce fumonisin, a mold toxin that is suspected to contribute to birth defects in Hispanic women who eat large amounts of corn (right photo by Thomas Lumpkin).

This multidisciplinary group of scientists from 15 U.S. universities and the USDA-Agricultural Research Service has been collaborating since 1971 to  improve food safety and human health worldwide. Their most recent efforts have investigated how food-borne bioactive chemicals can protect  against human diseases such as cancer, inflammation, birth defects, and microbial infections, as well as how food-borne toxins are created by  processing, preparation, and other post-harvest activities. Project scientists have also discovered bioactive chemicals that have adverse effects on  human health. Using this information, W-2122 researchers have developed approaches to increase beneficial—and decrease adverse—effects of  bioactive food chemicals and microbial contaminants. Research has also led to improved understanding of how changes to the human body’s natural  collection of bacteria and other microorganisms are related to chronic metabolic diseases. W-2122 extension experts have shared research results with stakeholders using multimedia materials.

Studies found that consuming dry bean or rice bran (the outer layer of the rice grain) increases beneficial bacteria that produce food for cells lining the colon, while also reducing the growth of harmful bacteria that can cause intestinal inflammation. Photo courtesy of Rob Qld, Flickr.

Impact Statements

  • Shed light on possible dietary strategies for preventing and treating metabolic syndromes (including type 2 diabetes hypertension, high cholesterol,  and cardiovascular diseases) that afflict over 47 million Americans.
  • Helped consumers make more informed, healthier choices about whether to take dietary supplements. For example, University of Illinois  researchers found that the estrogenlike compounds (isoflavones) in some soy supplements can stimulate growth of estrogen-dependent breast  cancer and can negate the effectiveness of breast cancer therapies (e.g., tamoxifen and aromatase inhibitors), depending on dosage.
  • Developed ways to increase beneficial effects of bioactive chemicals so they are more active but have fewer adverse side effects for consumers.
  • Improved food safety by identifying how to prevent contamination from food-borne toxins during processing, preparation, and other post-harvest activities.
  • Found ways to assess and reduce harmful levels of aflatoxin B1 (a carcinogenic mold toxin) in turkey and grain. This information helps ensure safe  food products for consumers and is useful in parts of Asia and Africa where 10% of adults may die of aflatoxin-related liver cancer.
  • Advanced  strategies for protecting and treating individuals exposed to bioactive toxins through deliberate use in chemical terrorism or warfare or  natural contamination of foods.
  • Saved taxpayers millions of dollars by simplifying risk assessments for fumonisin, a carcinogenic mold toxin.
  • Characterized the fetus stage that is most susceptible to carcinogens to which the mother is exposed, leading to better prevention protocols for  pregnant women.

Other studies showed that bitter melon prevents obesity associated metabolic disorders like diabetes. Studies also linked the bioactive chemicals in bitter melon to improved glucose, insulin, triglyceride, and cholesterol levels. Bitter melon is widely cultivated throughout the year in Asia, eastern Africa, and South America and is used extensively in folk medicines. Thus, it provides a cost-effective treatment or preventive strategy that is widely acceptable, especially among culturally sensitive populations and developing nations. Photo courtesy of Lao Foods Flickr.

What research is needed?

Despite significant progress in this field, much remains unknown about the impact of bioactive dietary chemicals on human health and  food safety. Researchers are continuing to explore ways to increase the beneficial impacts and minimize the risks of bioactive dietary  chemicals. Continued collaboration and communication of results among consumers, agricultural producers, food processors, health  professionals, and policy makers is needed to maintain food safety and improve human health worldwide.

Want to know more?

Download the printable PDF!

Administrative Advisor: H. Michael Harrington

This project was supported by the Multistate Research Fund (MRF) established in 1998 by the Agricultural Research, Extension, and Education  Reform Act (an amendment to the Hatch Act of 1888) to encourage and enhance multistate, multidisciplinary research on critical issues that have a  national or regional priority. For more information, visit https://www.waaesd.org/.

Potato Virus and Virus-Like Disease Management

WERA-089 (2006-2011): This project identified and characterized new potato disease problems; standardized testing methods for potato  viruses; shared information with the U.S. and Canadian potato industries; strengthened relationships with state certification programs; and
developed cooperative strategies to obtain funding for potato virus and virus-like disease management.

Potatos infected with zebra chip develop unsightly dark lines that resemble the stripes of a zebra.

Who cares and why?

Virus and virus-like diseases in potatoes in the western U.S. create a costly situation requiring limited-generation seed programs and the  use of multiple pesticides to minimize yield and quality losses in commercial crops. Substantial yield losses and rejections of seed lots for  certification have resulted in tremendous dollar losses to growers. Public and environmental concerns surround the use of pesticides on  potatoes. In addition, potato growers face potential registration cancellation of key pesticides and the difficulties of developing new  information for re-registration or development of new pesticides. Pest resistance to current pesticides is always of concern. Loss of  pesticides or pesticide effectiveness will increase yield and quality losses if alternative solutions are not developed. This group provides a  regional forum for collaboration among potato virus disease researchers and the dissemination of information on control strategies. The  group also advises regional and national organizations, evaluating concerns, recommending policies, and reviewing quarantine and seed  certification issues with the goal to improve plant health and crop sustainability.

The potato plant leaf on the left shows symptoms of potato virus Y infection compared to the healthy leaf on the right. Photo courtesy of Southern IPM Center.

What has the project done so far?

  • Members have organized annual meetings to discuss current concerns regarding virus and virus-like diseases occurring in potato crops.  This forum has also included presentations of ongoing research on potato viruses and virus-like diseases, their vectors, and alternate hosts.  In addition, participants have considered research priorities for upcoming years. Sub-groups have been formed to work on specific projects  throughout the year, including development of educational materials, presentations, and reference sheets.
  • Impact Statements:
  • Helped to prevent disease spread and serious damage by responding to reported findings of viruses (including new and uncommon strains)  in potato fields, quickly diagnosing the problem, and implementing the appropriate control tactics.
  • Characterized new strains of  potato virus Y (PVY) and assessed the impact of infection by these different strains of PVY on the yield and quality of potato varieties.
  • Identified the components of the tuber necrotic complex and developed new diagnostic tools that allow heightened confidence that potato  seed with internal necrosis due to PVY will not be used for planting commercial potatoes. The PVY survey and the Canadian quality  assurance survey have provided additional information about the health status of potato seed.
  • Found that hairy nightshade is a significant source of potato virus and the aphids which can transmit the disease, leading to new potato disease control strategies that include  managing the various hosts and vectors of PVY.
  • Determined that younger plants are more susceptible to the potato purple top disease,  giving potato growers in the Pacific Northwest much-needed information for using timely and appropriate insecticide applications to  control the beet leafhopper insect that carries the disease, thereby preventing yield losses and reductions in potato processing quality.
  • Discovered that zebra chip, a new and damaging potato disease in the southwestern and central U.S., Mexico, Central America, and New  Zealand, is associated with a previously undescribed species of the bacterium Liberibacter and is transmitted by potato psyllid insects. Development of effective management strategies for the potato psyllid is under way to minimize damage caused by this potato disease.

Potato plants showing symptoms of potato virus Y infection. Photo by Nina Zidack/Montana State University.

What research is needed?

To improve long-term plant health and crop sustainability, scientists must continue to provide a regional forum for the exchange of ideas  and collaborative research on potato virus and viruslike diseases. Scientists need to continue to assist with the implementation of  knowledge, methods, and resources that control potato virus and viruslike diseases. Furthermore, scientists need to share research results  and advise regional and national organizations and help them evaluate concerns, review quarantine and seed certification issues, and develop policies that relate to potato viruses or virus-like organisms and their control.

Want to know more?

Download the printable PDF!

Administrative Advisor: Donn Thill, dthill@uidaho.edu

This project was supported by the Multistate Research Fund (MRF) established in 1998 by the Agricultural Research, Extension, and Education Reform Act (an amendment to the Hatch Act of 1888) to encourage and enhance multistate, multidisciplinary research on critical issues that have a national or regional priority. For more information, visit https://www.waaesd.org/.

The Changing Landscape of Women in America

W-1167 (2006-2011): This project improved the understanding of work-family variables for female ranchers and farmers, female professionals, and female immigrants in the U.S.; gave these women resources and  strategies to help them balance work, family, and personal time; and provided information to human resource  departments, service providers, and corporate decision makers to help them develop more effective policies and interventions.

Who cares and why?

Women comprised 49 percent of the U.S. workforce in 2003. Three critical but understudied subpopulations in the workforce include: female ranchers and farmers, female professionals, and female immigrants. In the last 25 years, the percentage of all U.S. farmers who are women more than doubled, rising to over 11 percent.  Around 55 percent of all professional workers in the U.S. are female, and in 2001, over half of the more than 1  million immigrants admitted to the U.S. were female. While they play an increasingly vital economic role in  their communities, these groups lack role models and social and career blueprints and must forge unique  pathways toward fulfillment in their work, family, and personal lives. Relying on popular and local media for  guidance, working women often confront stereotypical portrayals of women. It is unknown whether the  messages embedded in popular and local media are applicable or helpful to these three groups of women. This  project sought to 1) identify the questions, challenges, and needs of the three target populations related to  work, family, and personal lives; 2) determine the media messages they receive regarding these arenas; and 3)  assess the extent to which these messages help or hurt in the struggle to achieve healthy work, family, and  personal lives. This research provides a better understanding of how to support these traditionally underserved  populations of women who have a high intensity of commitment to their jobs and careers and are playing  increasingly vital economic roles in their communities.

What has the project done so far?

Project participants have facilitated more than 20 focus groups with approximately 175 subjects total. With  these focus groups, W-1167 researchers have been able to look at the types and amount of media the women  view, what household and professional roles they play, the issues and challenges they face, and the ways they  define personal fulfillment. The focus groups have helped researchers examine patterns among women who  have different types of employment, communities, and ethnicities. The team has presented their research at  professional conferences, published journal articles and a book chapter, and shared data with legislative  groups.

Female immigrants often play vital roles in their communities’ economies. This woman attends a New Citizens Celebration with the Fleets and Facilities Department of Seattle. Photo courtesy of Seattle Municipal Archives.

Impact Statements:

  • Improved understanding of work-family variables, helping researchers determine effective ways to measure  and examine the experiences of women in the target groups.
  • Recommended research-based strategies that help  omen in the three target groups effectively address the challenges of balancing work, family, and personal  time, such as improving financial resources, seeking family-friendly policies in the workplace, and finding support from family, friends, and online resources.
  • Provided practical information to corporate decision  makers (e.g., in human resource departments) who develop and implement workplace policies that impact  families.
  • Provided information to service providers such as counselors, therapists, educators, and Extension personnel who work with the target populations of women so that they can develop more effective intervention  strategies and more successfully address challenges.

What research is needed?

The information about balancing work, family, and personal time that evolved from this qualitative research needs to be developed into  hypotheses and quantitatively tested for further validation of the findings.

Want to know more?

Download the printable PDF!

Administrative Advisor: Jim Christenson, jimc@ag.arizona.edu

This project was supported by the Multistate Research Fund (MRF) established in 1998 by the Agricultural Research, Extension, and  education Reform Act (an amendment to the Hatch Act of 1888) to encourage and enhance multistate, multidisciplinary research on critical issues that have a national or regional priority. For more information, visit https://www.waaesd.org/.

Virus and Virus-Like Diseases of Fruit Trees, Small Fruits, and Grapevines

WERA-020 (2006-2011): This project effectively fostered collaborations that led to significant advancements in virus and virus-like disease  management for perennial fruit crops that represent $18 million annually in U.S. production.

Who cares and why?

Diseases caused by viruses and virus-like organisms are serious threats to the tree fruit, berry, and grapevine industries in the U.S. and  Canada. Plum pox virus is the most economically devastating disease of stone fruits globally; the effects of this disease alone on tree fruit  and nursery industries has led to $80 million spent in the United States and $65 million spent in Canada on attempts to detect, eradicate,  and manage the virus. WERA-020 facilitates a reduction in the impact of these kinds of diseases by providing a unique network that encourages interaction among regulatory agencies, researchers, and extension specialists.

What has the project done so far?

WERA-020’s research and education activities have addressed two fundamental levels of disease control: 1) understanding disease  characteristics and developing early detection methods that limit economic damage; 2) supporting quarantines and programs that exclude diseases from commercial production areas. In particular, WERA-020 provided much of the expertise for early research and strategies for the plum pox virus when it was first diagnosed in 1999. This research has continued to inform proactive testing in major fruit producing
states, as well as the disease eradication program currently in progress in New York. WERA-020 scientists have also revealed the causes of diseases that limit blackberry production. With funding from a Specialty Crops Research Initiative grant, researchers from Arkansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, Mississippi, and Oregon have identified and studied the viruses involved in yellow vein disease, crumbly fruit, and decline of blackberry. WERA-020 has become the primary scientific forum for the exchange of technical information between the centers across the U.S. that are part of the newly formed National Clean Plant Network. Better information flow has improved testing  methods and operations management, increasing the availability of virus-tested living tissues that provide genetic resources for breeding programs as well as cultivated plant varieties for commercial use. In addition, WERA-020 scientists have developed and distributed virus-free plantings and other propagation sources for nurseries and growers.

Leaf roll virus causes wine grape leaves to yellow and curl at the edges. Photo by William M. Brown, Jr., Bugwood.org.

Impact Statements

Reduced economic losses by collaboratively advancing virus disease management for new and emerging pathogens. For example, the  California strawberry industry lost $25M to strawberry pallidosis during the 2003-2004 season, but since the pest was identified and aggressively managed, the disease has been almost eliminated in the state.

Played a central role for the National Clean Plant  Network by providing a forum for discussion of regional testing requirements based on regional differences in viruses and their vectors.

Provided regulatory agencies with easier access to up-to-date scientific information, helping them make regulations and decisions that have major effects on crops. Regulatory agencies used WERA-020 data and advice for acquiring propagation material that is free of pathogens, creating a more effective quarantine program that encourages compliance with federal regulations regarding the movement of propagation material.

Helped nurseries and growers access new, virus-tested plantings from foreign sources through clean plant programs, giving  growers the opportunity to initiate new plantings with the highest quality plants available and maximize potential crop yield.

Created the national grape registry, providing a single comprehensive site listing all grape plant material available within the U.S. and identifying which material has been certified as free of grapevine diseases. This registry has made it easier for growers to find plant stock in the U.S. that meets quarantine regulations and is cheaper than foreign sources.

More than 10 viruses of blackberries have been identified. Photo by Julie Falk.

What research is needed?

Global movement of plant material is accelerating.  This increases the risk of inadvertent introductions of novel pathogens into new environments.  The network of virologists and regulatory personnel must continue to work together to be able to identify and quickly respond to emerging disease situations.  This includes research in diagnosis of pathogens and education to make field personnel aware of key signs of emerging threats.

New technologies continue to be developed in other disciplines.  These must be evaluated and adapted where necessary to provide superior diagnostic capabilities.

Want to know more?

Contact Co-Administrative Advisor Hanu Pappu, hrp@wsu.edu

Download the printable PDF!

This project was supported by the Multistate Research Fund (MRF) established in 1998 by the Agricultural Research, Extension, and Education Reform Act (an amendment to the Hatch  Act of 1888) to encourage and enhance multistate, multidisciplinary research on critical issues that have a national or regional priority. For more information, visit   https://www.waaesd.org/.

Diagnosis of strawberry pallidosis has led to aggressive pest management that has nearly eliminated the pest in California. Photo courtesy of UC IPM.

Stress Factors of Farm Animals and Their Effects on Performance

A technician assesses a beef steer for Bovine Respiratory Disease, often caused by stress.

W-1173 (2006-2011):  This project has enhanced our understanding of stressors that impact domestic farm animal productivity; of factors that act as intermediaries to stress  responses; and of management practices that can relieve stress within the environment to enhance animal comfort and maintain a secure, productive, and low-cost food supply.

The U.S. dairy industry loses more than $1.5 billion is each year as a result of heat stress. “Cow showers” may help, giving animals the opportunity to use water to cool down. Photo by: Sylvia Wright / UC Davis.

Who cares and why?

Environmental and management stressors erode efficiency and cost livestock production enterprises billions of dollars annually in lost potential profitability. For example, in the absence of heat abatement measures, total losses across all animal classes averaged $2.4 billion annually as of 2003. Of the total, reduction in milk production potential represented a major portion of the losses to the dairy industry, which average between $897 million and $1.5 billion. Adverse weather conditions, including the effects of hot and cold climatic conditions, are particularly difficult for confinement beef cattle feeding enterprises.

What has the project done so far?

Outputs of the project’s collaborations are documented by the researchers’ commitment to dissemination and publication of research  results via national and international activities in the last four years.  Project members have published 97 peer-reviewed manuscripts and 144  other scientific papers. Nearly all of these documents contain shared  authorship among participating project stations. Ongoing  accomplishments of the group are a result of interactions among research scientists trained in a variety of disciplines and with expertise in a broad  range of livestock species. This comparative and multi-disciplinary  approach uniquely facilitates the expansion of research capabilities  among group participants. Project researchers are regular participants and/or invited speakers in special sessions and symposia on the biology of stress in livestock at national and international meetings. They have published collaborative review articles aimed at addressing updates  and/or changes in guidelines for livestock and are working collaboratively on resource materials for a textbook, Thermal Biology of Domestic  Animals, to be published in 2012. Members routinely share resources and expertise in research, and this has led to significant interactions among project participant laboratories, multi-institutional research projects, and joint meetings with other multi-state working groups with related focus  areas. The collaborative interdependence among stations originally  envisioned for multi-state projects is prominent in this research group.

Impact Statements

  • Advanced understanding of the biology of stress response components  and measures of animal well-being, giving researchers a basis for  predicting when an animal is under stress or distress and in need of  attention.
  • Identified management practices that improve animal  environments and reduce the potential for animal stress.
  • Shared information and recommendations with farmers and industries, helping  them reduce animal stress and increase animal productivity, resulting in increases in net income for livestock enterprises.

What research is needed?

The future research needs for this group are to identify strategies for developing and monitoring appropriate measures of animal stress and  well-being; assess genetic components, including genomics and proteomics, of animal stress and well-being; and develop alternative  management practices to reduce stress and improve animal well-being and performance. These research needs will be addressed through  collaborative research efforts by participating members of W-1173.

Want more information?

Administrative Advisor: Larry Curtis, larry.curtis@oregonstate.edu

Download the printable PDF!

This project was supported by the Multistate Research Fund (MRF) established in 1998 by the Agricultural Research, Extension, and Education Reform Act (an amendment to the  Hatch Act of 1888) to encourage and enhance multistate, multidisciplinary research on critical issues that have a national or regional priority. For more information, visit  https://www.waaesd.org/.

Studying shade use in dairy cattle. Photo by Cassandra Tucker.

Rangelands West Partnership

WERA-1008:  The Rangelands West Partnership continues to improve and expand the Rangelands West Web portal, providing stakeholders with relevant, science-based, cutting edge information and decision-making resources on local, national, and global rangeland ecology and management issues to increase the economic, environmental, and human health benefits of improved rangeland management in the West.

Issue

Rangelands are the most extensive class of lands in the 11 western states, encompassing 70% of the land area. Rangelands provide forage for livestock, habitat for wildlife, watersheds that clean and filter drinking water, and recreational opportunities. Map courtesy of rangelandswest.org.

Rangelands, the most extensive class of lands in the 11 western states (70 percent of land area), provide many ecological services, including forage production, wildlife habitat, watersheds, and recreation. Rangelands managed by federal and state agencies are commonly used by livestock operators as a critical component to whole ranch systems. An issue in management and conservation of these lands is the ability of state land-grant universities (LGUs) to provide quality information and support through the Internet. This requires collaboration among subject, information, and technology experts. The Rangelands West Partnership, a collaboration of rangeland specialists and agricultural and natural resource librarians from 19 western LGUs, is building a comprehensive Web resource for rangelands information as part of the Agriculture Network Information Center (AgNIC) and eXtension initiatives. WERA-1008 has formalized and facilitated this LGU partnership in the implementation and maintenance of state and regional Web portals. The Partnership’s mission is to provide researchers, educators, and public and private land managers with electronic access to the full scope of research and educational information in the fields of rangeland ecology, management, and conservation by collecting, creating, evaluating, and organizing relevant data, information, and learning materials.

What has the project done so far?

www.rangelandswest.com is a resource for scientists, educators, and public and private land managers.

 

An interdisciplinary team at the University of Arizona (UA), made up of rangeland scientists, librarians/information specialists, and IT experts, has been involved in developing a Web portal of rangeland management resources for more than 12 years. This led to the formation of the Partnership and development of the Rangelands West portal (http://rangelandswest.org). The current portal contains a searchable database of approximately 1,500 vetted publications and Web site links that include information on hot issues, direct links to a repository of journal articles from the Society for Range Management (SRM), and links to each of the 19 state Rangelands West Web sites. Primary audiences include rangeland scientists, educators, outreach professionals, and public and private land managers. In 2005, the Partnership became a Multistate Research Project and established and adopted a governing and operating structure. In addition to maintaining the Web portal, the Partnership has successfully sought and received funding to support project activities that include development of a stakeholder survey and training sessions for users of the Web portal, as well as development of an eXtension Range Management Community of Practice. In addition, the Partnership received a USDA-NIFA International Science and Education grant in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). This grant is supporting a full redesign and expansion of the portal, drawing on the latest technological advances. To increase awareness of the Web portal, the Partnership has held two symposia at SRM Annual meetings and signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the organization for continued collaboration. The Partnership continues to identify new partners to expand and keep the portal current and relevant. Currently, agreements are being negotiated with the Australian Rangeland Society, the Grassland Society of Southern Africa, and the University of Sonora, in Mexico.

Dr. Mitch McClaran, director for research at the Santa Rita Experimental Range, shows WERA-1008 participants around the 50,000 acre site, a living laboratory where over 100 scientists study Southwestern agricultural sustainability.

Impact Statements

  • Awarded and successfully completed USDA Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) professional development grant that involved and trained more than 40 ranchers and public land managers (2004 to 2007), better equipping them to utilize online tools more effectively for land management decisions.
  • Conducted survey of agriculture and natural resource advisors (4 to 8 from each state in the Partnership) on critical sustainable rangeland management issues that contributed to the development of the hot topics section of the Rangelands West portal (2005).
  • Conducted workshop entitled “Sustainable Rangeland Management—On the Cutting Edge” for agriculture and natural resource advisers (32 participants), exploring sustainable rangeland management issues across the West, including vegetation monitoring programs and management of invasive species (2005).
  • Maintained Rangelands West portal and collected usage statistics on site visitations numbering hundreds of thousands per year.
  • Gained funding from the UA Libraries’ Strategic Plan funds to conduct a needs assessment (see next bullet) and to develop a business plan. Both were completed and used as the framework for restructuring for sustainability of the project (2008 to 2009).
    • Conducted online survey of Rangeland Management Information Needs and Preferences.  The survey was sent to 1,066 potential participants in 13 states, with 196 (18.4 percent) participating. Also conducted focus group sessions with stakeholders in Washington, Hawaii, Arizona, Oklahoma, and Oregon (24 total participants). Identified user needs were incorporated in the technical needs assessment for the third phase portal redesign, including creation of a system that will automatically update content frequently, providing relevant search results, full-text repositories of documents and images, local information resources, and tools to foster networking.
  • Held official “launch” workshop at UA for the Global Rangelands/Rangelands West USDA-supported project with FAO partners (2010), who provided assistance in implementing an open-access, controlled-vocabulary technical infrastructure.
  • Presented first iteration of the Global Rangelands/Rangelands West portals at a symposium at the SRM annual meeting. Conducted four focus groups to gain stakeholder input. This led to simplifying the search interface and to keeping a U.S. focus for the Rangelands West portal (2011).

Research Needs for Future Impacts

The Partnership is expanding the focus of the portal to provide information on rangelands on a global basis. To support this effort the Partnership is in the process of establishing formal agreements with rangeland organizations in Australia, Mexico, and South Africa. In addition, the new Global Rangelands/Rangelands West database repository, which already contains more than 10,000 resources, will be launched in the fall of 2011. Full site usage analytics will be tracked and provided in subsequent WERA-1008 annual reports.

Contact Information

Bret Hess, brethess@uwyo.edu and John Tanaka, jtanaka@uwyo.edu

Management of the Mexican Wolf

WCC-1006 (2006-2011): This project brought scientists and managers together in a venue independent of agency or local politics. The group set  research priorities, enhanced the research needed for better management and recovery, and advised Mexican wolf management efforts based on the results of the latest research.

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