Cornell University scientists sequence genome for whitefly

In Delta Farm Press

A tiny insect that feeds on some 1,000 plant species and transmits more than 300 plant viruses, causing billions of dollars in crop losses each year worldwide, is now about to be subjected to new depths of research that could lead to more effective control.

An international team of researchers at the Boyce Thompson Institute at Cornell University has sequenced the genome of the whitefly, termed “a formidable threat to food security.” Continue reading

Permanent scientist position available with USDA ARS in Manhattan KS

A Research Ecologist (quantitative) position is available with the USDA ARS Stored Product Insect and Engineering Research Unit at the Center for Grain and Animal Health Research Center in Manhattan, KS.  This is a permanent research position.  

Deadline: January 13, 2017 Continue reading

Test for wheat blast now available

by By Jan Suszkiw, Agricultural Research Service

A team of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and university scientists has developed a sensitive new assay method for detecting the fungus that causes “wheat blast,” a disease of wheat in South America and, most recently, Bangladesh.

The fungus Magnaporthe oryzae triticum (MoT) was first detected in Brazil in 1985. The disease has moved into the neighboring countries of Argentina, Bolivia and Paraguay, but wheat blast hasn’t been reported outside of South America—that is, until February 2016, when MoT was confirmed in wheat crops in Bangladesh. Continue reading

Bacterial Imbalances Can Mean Bad News for Honey Bees

By Jan Suszkiw , Agricultural Research Service

A team of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists and their collaborators have established a strong link between honey bee health and the effects of diet on bacteria that live in the guts of these important insect pollinators.

In a study published in the November issue of Molecular Ecology, the team fed caged honey bees one of four diets: fresh pollen, aged pollen, fresh supplements, and aged supplements. After seven days, the team euthanized and dissected the bees and used next-generation sequencing methods to identify the bacteria communities that had colonized the bees’ digestive tract. Continue reading

Research assistant positions available at NCSU

Up to 3 Research Assistant positions are available at the Center for IPM at North Carolina State University to work with citrus or other fruit tree diseases and/or insect vector systems to advance basic and applied understanding or the biology, detection, sampling and/or management of associated plant pathogens. The incumbents will be responsible for: (1) Active participation in one or more phases of the research process by performing a variety of microbiological, epidemiological, and molecular techniques for laboratory, greenhouse or field experiments; (2) Independent research design and performance of protocols for molecular and epidemiological studies using specialized equipment such as real-time PCR apparatus, compound and stereo microscopes, and have the ability to adjust protocols and develop new methods when necessary; (3) Independent performance of statistical analyses of experimental data using general statistical packages as well as specific software supplied by the lead scientist, tabulation and summarization of statistical output, preparation of graphical presentation of results and aid in preparation of written reports; (4) work in collaboration with other Biological Scientists and Technicians in conduct of laboratory, field, or greenhouse research, and assurance that they comply with procedures for research conduct under quarantine conditions. The incumbent’s duty station will be the USDA, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Horticultural Research Laboratory in Fort Pierce, Florida.

Click here for the full posting and to apply.

USDA scientist looks for natural enemies in Asia to control invasive plants

By Sharon Durham, Agricultural Research Service

This June, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) ecologist Melissa Smith traveled to Asia to collect insects that can control the spread of several invasive plant species in the United States that originated in Asia.

Predator and prey co-evolve in nature’s “arms race” for survival. When plants and animals are moved from their native habitats to new locales where they have no natural enemies, their populations can grow unchecked. Continue reading

Wasp and Scale Insects Help Control Giant Reed

By Sandra Avant, Agricultural Research Service

The release of tiny insects to combat the invasive weed giant reed is paying off, according to a recent U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) study.

Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists released the arundo gall wasp and the arundo scale several years ago as part of a biocontrol program to kill giant reed along Texas’ Rio Grande. The weed, also known as “carrizo cane” and “Spanish reed,” clogs streams and irrigation channels, weakens river banks, stifles native vegetation, affects flood control, reduces wildlife habitat, and impedes law enforcement activities along the international border. Continue reading