UK researcher receives $1.25 million grant to study corn anthracnose

By Katie Pratt, University of Kentucky

Anthracnose stalk rot is a fungal disease of corn that can cause lodging and completely destroy a crop. It is ranked among the top three diseases that cause yield losses in corn each year. Lisa Vaillancourt, a University of Kentucky plant pathologist, has studied this disease for several years and is working toward a management solution.

Recently, Vaillancourt received a $1.25 million grant from the Plant Biotic Interactions Program, a joint venture between the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Science Foundation. The goal of the grant is to further examine an anthracnose mutant produced in her lab that is unable to cause the stalk rot disease in corn plants. Continue reading

UK scientists identify important biological marker to control insect pests

by Katie Pratt, University of Kentucky

A University of Kentucky research team led by entomologist Subba Reddy Palli discovered a protein that plays a critical role in the effectiveness of RNA interference in beetles. This finding could improve the efficiency of this pest control technology and help manage resistance.

RNA interference, RNAi, is a process where RNA molecules constrain gene expression. It is very efficient in insects belonging to the order Coleoptera, which includes a variety of major pests such as the corn rootworm, Colorado potato beetle, pine weevil, powderpost beetle, Asian longhorned beetle and emerald ash borer. However, it has varying levels of efficiency in other insects. Continue reading

UK research shows urban gardens can aid in pollinator conservation

by Katie Pratt, University of Kentucky

A recent study conducted by University of Kentucky Department of Entomology researchers found that monarch butterflies and various bee species quickly find and use milkweeds in small urban gardens. They showed that monarchs and bees have preferences for the type and size of the plants.

“Our goal was to demonstrate to gardeners and homeowners that they can participate in meaningful pollinator conservation in their own backyard,” said Adam Baker, UK graduate student in the College of the Agriculture, Food and Environment. Continue reading

UK researchers to study pollinator food availability on farmland

by Katie Pratt, University of Kentucky

Pollinators are extremely important to agriculture, accounting for one in every three bites of food, but their populations have been declining worldwide for a number of years. In a new study, University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment researchers are evaluating how food availability on farmland impacts bee communities in early spring.

“Managing corn and soybean fields in a way that provides food for pollinators early in the spring could be beneficial to bee communities,” said Clare Rittschof, UK assistant professor in the Department of Entomology and leader of the project. “The goal of this project is to help producers improve pollinator populations on their land by providing an attractive and nutritious food source for them.” Continue reading

Redesigned website provides farmers with useful information

With the growing season just around the corner, farmers and agribusinesses have a new tool to help them tackle crop management challenges in the Crop Protection Network’s redesigned website.

The website http://www.cropprotectionnetwork.org features timely videos, newsletter and blog articles, featured articles and Twitter updates from CPN partners on important management issues for a variety of field crops as well as the network’s corn and soybean publications. The website also includes an encyclopedia of crop diseases to help farmers identify diseases in their fields using extensive image galleries and keywords to filter results. Continue reading

IPM specialist receives national entomology honor

by Katie Pratt, University of Kentucky

The Entomological Society of America recently named Reddy Palli of the University of Kentucky the 2017 recipient of the Nan-Yao Su Award for Innovation and Creativity in Entomology.

This award was created by an endowment from Nan-Yao Su to recognize creative entomologists who have found alternative solutions to problems that significantly impact entomology. Continue reading

New tree app builds partnerships between citizens and scientists

by Carol Lea Spence, University of Kentucky

TreeSnap, new phone app developed by the University of Kentucky Forest Health Research Center and the University of Tennessee Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology for Android and iOS cell phones is designed to connect scientists with foresters, landowners and interested citizens in an effort to protect and restore the nation’s trees.

A team led by Bert Abbott of the UK Forest Health Research and Education Center and a University of Tennessee team led by Meg Staton developed the free app as a part of a $3 million grant from the National Science Foundation Plant Genome Research Program. The partnership is part of a larger collaboration with Washington State University and the University of Connecticut. Continue reading