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

Two Research Entomologist open with USDA ARS

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Agricultural Research Service (ARS), Exotic and Invasive Weeds Research Unit is seeking two permanent full time Research Entomologists for permanent appointments in Davis, California.  A degree is required. The incumbents will conduct research on factors contributing to honey bee colony loss. The incumbents will develop long-term longitudinal studies of spatial and temporal changes in bee populations exposed to abiotic and biotic stresses and management practices. The incumbents will publish research results in peer-reviewed journals and give research presentations at national and international scientific meetings and conferences. Vacant research positions may be filled at several grade levels (GS-12-13 or 14-15) depending upon scientific impact of the selected person. Interested candidates are encouraged to apply to both positions. Research positions have an open-ended promotion potential.  Salary is commensurate with experience.  Citizenship restrictions apply.  Please view the complete text announcement and application instructions using the following links:

https://www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/506444400

https://www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/506444500 Continue reading

Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR) – Phase I

Funds may be awarded up to $100,000 for a Phase I project. Proposed Phase I projects should prove the scientific or technical feasibility of the approach or concept. Projects dealing with agriculturally related manufacturing and alternative and renewable energy technologies are encouraged across all SBIR topic areas. USDA SBIR’s flexible research areas ensure innovative projects consistent with USDA’s vision of a healthy and productive nation in harmony with the land, air, and water. USDA SBIR Program has awarded over 2000 research and development projects since 1983, allowing hundreds of small businesses to explore their technological potential, and providing an incentive to profit from the commercialization of innovative ideas. Visit the Small Business Innovation Research Program page for more information on the SBIR program. Continue reading

PPQ Delivers Tiny Wasps to Combat Spiking Asian Citrus Psyllid Populations

By Heather Curlett, APHIS PPQ

When Hurricane Maria thrashed the Caribbean island of Dominica last September, the storm killed dozens of people and devastated the country’s infrastructure. Adding to the misery, plant pest populations exploded after the storm passed. These insects included the Asian citrus psyllid, which spreads the citrus-killing disease Huanglongbing, also known as citrus greening. Because citrus is an economically important crop for the country, Dominica’s agriculture ministry reached out to USDA’s Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ) program for help. Continue reading

APHIS Invites Stakeholders to Comment on the IPPC Draft Strategic Framework for 2020-2030

The International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) has posted its draft Strategic Framework for 2020-2030. APHIS invites stakeholders to provide comments on the document by August 1, 2018.

Instructions for Submitting Comments

The draft Strategic Framework for 2020-2030 is available on the IPPC website. Continue reading

NIFA Invests $15.4 Million in Sustainable Agroecosystems: Functions, Processes and Management

USDA National Institute for Food and Agriculture recently awarded 35 Sustainable Agroecosytems grants that will improve the sustainable management of agro-ecosystems (agricultural, forest and range) while maintaining or improving the supporting natural resources and ecosystem services. The funded research will improve our understanding of the interactions among physical, chemical, and biological processes that determine the health and quality of soil, water and air resources, and how these respond to natural and human based changes and management. Other research will provide science-based information that integrates the complex interactions between natural processes and management practices, and that is needed to make decisions to support agricultural production, including bioenergy and biobased product feedstocks, maintain or improve ecosystem services, and avoid critical thresholds of irreversible damage or loss to our natural resource base. These grants are a part of NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI).

NIFA Invests $7 Million to Improve Plant Breeding for Agricultural Production

USDA National Institute for Food and Agriculture recently awarded 22 Plant Breeding for Agricultural Production grants that will advance development of publicly available cultivars bred to improve the production efficiency, yield, sustainability, resilience, healthfulness, product quality, and value of U.S. agricultural plants while increasing farmer profitability and exports. The awards include both classical and genomics-enabled plant breeding research focused on pre-breeding and germplasm enhancement, cultivar development, selection theory, and applied genetics. Further, NIFA and the National Peanut Board will co-fund three of these awards, taking advantage of a provision in the 2014 Farm Bill that encourages these types of public-private research partnerships. More information about NIFA’s commodity boards program is available on the NIFA website. These grants are a part of NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI).