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USDA, NIFA Announce Investments in Pollinator Health Research

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) today announced 14 grants totaling approximately $10 million for research to help sustain healthy populations of pollinators, which are crucial to the nation’s food security and environmental health. The funding is made possible through NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) program, authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.

“One-third of all U.S. crop production requires pollination by animals – primarily honey bees, but also wasps, flies, butterflies, moths, beetles and bats,” said Acting NIFA Director Tom Shanower. “Recent declines in both managed and wild pollinators are of paramount importance to our nation’s food security and the vitality of natural resources.” 

AFRI is America’s flagship competitive grants program for foundational and translational research, education, and extension projects in the food and agricultural sciences. Projects announced today address the current problem of declining pollinator populations.

Among these projects, University of Texas researchers will examine the effects of artificial diets and toxins on the composition of gut microbiota in honey bees and whether these changes are associated with colony losses. A Northern Arizona University project will be the largest seed trial in the arid western United States for evaluating the effect of locally adapted plants on successful restoration of pollinator habitat, including nearly 50,000 plants and 12 plant species. From these studies, researchers will develop seed zone guidelines to better predict the fitness and health of both plants and pollinators, thereby ensuring better success in sustaining diverse populations of pollinators.

The recipients of fiscal year 2017 AFRI Pollinator Health grants are:

  • Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, Arizona, $929,977
  • University of California, Riverside, California, $149,945
  • Fort Lewis College, Durango, Colorado, $103,202
  • University of Illinois, Champaign, Illinois, $994,786
  • Iowa State University of Science and Technology, Ames, Iowa, $670,675
  • USDA Agricultural Research Service, Beltsville, Maryland, $478,350
  • University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota, $999,740
  • University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota, $999,803
  • University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri, $999,622
  • University of Nevada, Reno, Nevada, $531,899
  • Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon, $1,000,000
  • Pennsylvania State University, State College, Pennsylvania, $901,176
  • University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas, $752,978
  • Utah State University, Logan, Utah, $471,833

More information on these projects is available on the NIFA website.

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