USDA

Tannic Acid Has Potential to Reduce Allergenicity of Peanuts

USDA Agricultural Research Service - Tue, 11/25/2014 - 08:46
Using Poison-Frog Compounds to Control Fire Ants< / December 2, 2014 / News from the USDA Agricultural Research Service
Read the magazine story to find out more.

 Strawberry dart frog
ARS scientists and their collaborators have discovered that alkaloids found on the skin of some poison dart frogs can kill fire ants. Image courtesy of Marshal Hedin.


For further reading

Using Poison-Frog Compounds to Control Fire Ants

By Sandra Avant
December 2, 2014

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists and their collaborators have found that naturally occurring compounds—alkaloids—that are found on the skin of certain poison frogs can incapacitate and kill fire ants.

The red imported fire ant damages crops, devastates small animal populations and inflicts painful stings to livestock as well as to humans. To determine whether poison-frog alkaloids would kill fire ants, scientists at the Agricultural Research Service's (ARS) Center for Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology (CMAVE) in Gainesville, Florida, partnered with researchers at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute at the National Zoological Park in Front Royal, Virginia, and the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. ARS is USDA's principal intramural scientific research agency.

Poison frogs, natives of Central and South America, do not make alkaloids, but instead sequester them by eating ants, mites, millipedes and other arthropods that produce these compounds, according to Robert Vander Meer, research leader for CMAVE's Imported Fire Ant and Household Insects Unit. He and his colleagues developed a bioassay to measure the toxicity of 20 poison-frog alkaloids—some of which were very effective in controlling fire ants, while others were not.

Alkaloids derived from mites and found on the skin of Central America's poison frog, Oophaga pumilio, were more effective at incapacitating fire ants than the fire ants' own alkaloids. Scientists published these findings, which broaden the use of poison-frog alkaloids to include protection against predator ants such as fire ants, in Naturwissenschaften in 2013.

Scientists are considering expanding their research to include mosquitoes. Earlier work published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences demonstrated that a poison-frog alkaloid called pumiliotoxin 251D was effective against the yellowfever mosquito. Insects that landed on surfaces treated with the compound could no longer fly and died.

Mosquitoes cause problems worldwide, transmitting pathogens that can lead to serious diseases. In the future, poison-frog alkaloids or derivatives may prove useful in helping to control mosquitoes, according to Vander Meer.

Read more about this research in the November/December 2014 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.

Categories: USDA

Tannic Acid Has Potential to Reduce Allergenicity of Peanuts

USDA Agricultural Research Service - Tue, 11/25/2014 - 08:46
Using Poison-Frog Compounds to Control Fire Ants< / December 2, 2014 / News from the USDA Agricultural Research Service
Read the magazine story to find out more.

 Strawberry dart frog
ARS scientists and their collaborators have discovered that alkaloids found on the skin of some poison dart frogs can kill fire ants. Image courtesy of Marshal Hedin.


For further reading

Using Poison-Frog Compounds to Control Fire Ants

By Sandra Avant
December 2, 2014

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists and their collaborators have found that naturally occurring compounds—alkaloids—that are found on the skin of certain poison frogs can incapacitate and kill fire ants.

The red imported fire ant damages crops, devastates small animal populations and inflicts painful stings to livestock as well as to humans. To determine whether poison-frog alkaloids would kill fire ants, scientists at the Agricultural Research Service's (ARS) Center for Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology (CMAVE) in Gainesville, Florida, partnered with researchers at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute at the National Zoological Park in Front Royal, Virginia, and the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. ARS is USDA's principal intramural scientific research agency.

Poison frogs, natives of Central and South America, do not make alkaloids, but instead sequester them by eating ants, mites, millipedes and other arthropods that produce these compounds, according to Robert Vander Meer, research leader for CMAVE's Imported Fire Ant and Household Insects Unit. He and his colleagues developed a bioassay to measure the toxicity of 20 poison-frog alkaloids—some of which were very effective in controlling fire ants, while others were not.

Alkaloids derived from mites and found on the skin of Central America's poison frog, Oophaga pumilio, were more effective at incapacitating fire ants than the fire ants' own alkaloids. Scientists published these findings, which broaden the use of poison-frog alkaloids to include protection against predator ants such as fire ants, in Naturwissenschaften in 2013.

Scientists are considering expanding their research to include mosquitoes. Earlier work published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences demonstrated that a poison-frog alkaloid called pumiliotoxin 251D was effective against the yellowfever mosquito. Insects that landed on surfaces treated with the compound could no longer fly and died.

Mosquitoes cause problems worldwide, transmitting pathogens that can lead to serious diseases. In the future, poison-frog alkaloids or derivatives may prove useful in helping to control mosquitoes, according to Vander Meer.

Read more about this research in the November/December 2014 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.

Categories: USDA

Test Alteration Simplifies Diagnosis of Poultry Diseases

USDA Agricultural Research Service - Mon, 11/24/2014 - 13:14
Using Poison-Frog Compounds to Control Fire Ants< / December 2, 2014 / News from the USDA Agricultural Research Service
Read the magazine story to find out more.

 Strawberry dart frog
ARS scientists and their collaborators have discovered that alkaloids found on the skin of some poison dart frogs can kill fire ants. Image courtesy of Marshal Hedin.


For further reading

Using Poison-Frog Compounds to Control Fire Ants

By Sandra Avant
December 2, 2014

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists and their collaborators have found that naturally occurring compounds—alkaloids—that are found on the skin of certain poison frogs can incapacitate and kill fire ants.

The red imported fire ant damages crops, devastates small animal populations and inflicts painful stings to livestock as well as to humans. To determine whether poison-frog alkaloids would kill fire ants, scientists at the Agricultural Research Service's (ARS) Center for Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology (CMAVE) in Gainesville, Florida, partnered with researchers at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute at the National Zoological Park in Front Royal, Virginia, and the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. ARS is USDA's principal intramural scientific research agency.

Poison frogs, natives of Central and South America, do not make alkaloids, but instead sequester them by eating ants, mites, millipedes and other arthropods that produce these compounds, according to Robert Vander Meer, research leader for CMAVE's Imported Fire Ant and Household Insects Unit. He and his colleagues developed a bioassay to measure the toxicity of 20 poison-frog alkaloids—some of which were very effective in controlling fire ants, while others were not.

Alkaloids derived from mites and found on the skin of Central America's poison frog, Oophaga pumilio, were more effective at incapacitating fire ants than the fire ants' own alkaloids. Scientists published these findings, which broaden the use of poison-frog alkaloids to include protection against predator ants such as fire ants, in Naturwissenschaften in 2013.

Scientists are considering expanding their research to include mosquitoes. Earlier work published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences demonstrated that a poison-frog alkaloid called pumiliotoxin 251D was effective against the yellowfever mosquito. Insects that landed on surfaces treated with the compound could no longer fly and died.

Mosquitoes cause problems worldwide, transmitting pathogens that can lead to serious diseases. In the future, poison-frog alkaloids or derivatives may prove useful in helping to control mosquitoes, according to Vander Meer.

Read more about this research in the November/December 2014 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.

Categories: USDA

USDA Opens VIVO Research Networking Tool to Public

USDA Agricultural Research Service - Thu, 11/20/2014 - 13:24
USDA Opens VIVO Research Networking Tool to Public / November 20, 2014 / News from the USDA Agricultural Research Service
USDA Opens VIVO Research Networking Tool to Public

By Sharon Durham
November 20, 2014

WASHINGTON, Nov. 20, 2014—VIVO, a Web application used internally by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists since 2012 to allow better national networking across disciplines and locations, is now available to the public. USDA VIVO will be a "one-stop shop" for Federal agriculture expertise and research outcomes.

"USDA employs over 5,000 researchers to ensure our programs are based on sound public policy and the best available science," said USDA Chief Scientist and Undersecretary for Research, Education, and Economics Dr. Catherine Woteki. "USDA VIVO provides a powerful Web search tool for connecting interdisciplinary researchers, research projects and outcomes with others who might bring a different approach or scope to a research project. Inviting private citizens to use the system will increase the potential for collaboration to solve food- and agriculture-related problems."

The idea behind USDA VIVO is to link researchers with peers and potential collaborators to ignite synergy among our nation's best scientific minds and to spark unique approaches to some of our toughest agricultural problems. This efficient networking tool enables scientists to easily locate others with a particular expertise. VIVO also makes it possible to quickly identify scientific expertise and respond to emerging agricultural issues, like specific plant and animal disease or pests.

USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS), Economic Research Service, National Institute of Food and Agriculture, National Agricultural Statistics Service and Forest Service are the first five USDA agencies to participate in VIVO. The National Agricultural Library, which is part of ARS, will host the Web application. USDA hopes to add other agencies in the future.

VIVO was in part developed under a $12.2 million grant from the National Center for Research Resources, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The grant, made under the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, was provided to the University of Florida and collaborators at Cornell University, Indiana University, Weill Cornell Medical College, Washington University in St. Louis, the Scripps Research Institute and the Ponce School of Medicine.

VIVO's underlying database draws information about research being conducted by USDA scientists from official public systems of record and then makes it uniformly available for searching. The data can then be easily leveraged in other applications. In this way, USDA is also making its research projects and related impacts available to the Federal RePORTER tool, released by NIH on September 22, 2014. Federal RePORTER is part of a collaborative effort between Federal entities and other research institutions to create a repository that will be useful to assess the impact of Federal research and development investments.

Categories: USDA

Brain Images Focus on Stress Eaters' Neurological Response to Comfort Foods

USDA Agricultural Research Service - Wed, 11/19/2014 - 14:11
USDA Opens VIVO Research Networking Tool to Public / November 20, 2014 / News from the USDA Agricultural Research Service
USDA Opens VIVO Research Networking Tool to Public

By Sharon Durham
November 20, 2014

WASHINGTON, Nov. 20, 2014—VIVO, a Web application used internally by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists since 2012 to allow better national networking across disciplines and locations, is now available to the public. USDA VIVO will be a "one-stop shop" for Federal agriculture expertise and research outcomes.

"USDA employs over 5,000 researchers to ensure our programs are based on sound public policy and the best available science," said USDA Chief Scientist and Undersecretary for Research, Education, and Economics Dr. Catherine Woteki. "USDA VIVO provides a powerful Web search tool for connecting interdisciplinary researchers, research projects and outcomes with others who might bring a different approach or scope to a research project. Inviting private citizens to use the system will increase the potential for collaboration to solve food- and agriculture-related problems."

The idea behind USDA VIVO is to link researchers with peers and potential collaborators to ignite synergy among our nation's best scientific minds and to spark unique approaches to some of our toughest agricultural problems. This efficient networking tool enables scientists to easily locate others with a particular expertise. VIVO also makes it possible to quickly identify scientific expertise and respond to emerging agricultural issues, like specific plant and animal disease or pests.

USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS), Economic Research Service, National Institute of Food and Agriculture, National Agricultural Statistics Service and Forest Service are the first five USDA agencies to participate in VIVO. The National Agricultural Library, which is part of ARS, will host the Web application. USDA hopes to add other agencies in the future.

VIVO was in part developed under a $12.2 million grant from the National Center for Research Resources, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The grant, made under the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, was provided to the University of Florida and collaborators at Cornell University, Indiana University, Weill Cornell Medical College, Washington University in St. Louis, the Scripps Research Institute and the Ponce School of Medicine.

VIVO's underlying database draws information about research being conducted by USDA scientists from official public systems of record and then makes it uniformly available for searching. The data can then be easily leveraged in other applications. In this way, USDA is also making its research projects and related impacts available to the Federal RePORTER tool, released by NIH on September 22, 2014. Federal RePORTER is part of a collaborative effort between Federal entities and other research institutions to create a repository that will be useful to assess the impact of Federal research and development investments.

Categories: USDA

Brain Images Focus on Stress Eaters' Neurological Response to Comfort Foods

USDA Agricultural Research Service - Wed, 11/19/2014 - 07:44
Brain Images Focus on Stress Eaters' Neurological Response to Comfort Foods / November 19, 2014 / News from the USDA Agricultural Research Service
Read the magazine story to find out more.

 A chocolate cake on a glass cake stand. Link to photo information.
Stress appeared to turn off self-control regions of the brain when volunteers viewed calorie-rich comfort foods, according to an an ARS-led study. Click the image for more information about it.


For further reading

Brain Images Focus on Stress Eaters' Neurological Response to Comfort Foods

By Marcia Wood
November 19, 2014

Stress eaters who load up on high-calorie goodies as a source of comfort when life gets tough may end up battling overweight or obesity. Either condition can increase the risk of heart attack, stroke or chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes. That's the reason why U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) nutrition researcher Kevin D. Laugero and colleagues are taking a close look at pathways inside the brain that link stress to unhealthy eating or, technically speaking, the neurophysiology of stress eating.

Laugero's investigations are part of ongoing obesity prevention research at the USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Western Human Nutrition Research Center in Davis, California, where Laugero is based.

In one of Laugero's most recent studies, featured in the November/December 2014 issue of Agricultural Research magazine, 30 healthy female volunteers age 20 to 53 were asked to evaluate the amount of chronic stress that problems with work, relationships, or finances were causing in their lives. Then, brain scans known as functional magnetic resonance images were taken while each volunteer viewed photos of high-calorie foods, healthy foods, or everyday objects such as coins.

Laugero's team of USDA and University of California-Davis scientists found that some patterns of brain activity in the high-chronic-stress volunteers differed markedly from those of low-chronic-stress participants. For example, activity in the prefrontal cortex, a region of the brain that regulates self-control and strategic decision-making, was essentially "turned off" when high-stress volunteers viewed calorie-rich foods. This was in contrast to the response revealed in brain scans of the low-stress volunteers who were shown the same photos.

For more than a decade, obesity researchers have used sophisticated neuroimaging technology to detect and map the way the brain responds to food. But Laugero's research, documented in a 2013 peer-reviewed scientific article in Physiology & Behavior, is unique and may help pave the way to science-based strategies that help stress eaters break the habit.

The study was funded by the University of California-Davis Imaging Research Center and by ARS, the USDA's principal intramural scientific research agency. The research may help improve health and nutrition, a USDA top priority.

Categories: USDA

USDA Researchers Identify Stink Bug Attractant

USDA Agricultural Research Service - Mon, 11/17/2014 - 09:05
Brain Images Focus on Stress Eaters' Neurological Response to Comfort Foods / November 19, 2014 / News from the USDA Agricultural Research Service
Read the magazine story to find out more.

 A chocolate cake on a glass cake stand. Link to photo information.
Stress appeared to turn off self-control regions of the brain when volunteers viewed calorie-rich comfort foods, according to an an ARS-led study. Click the image for more information about it.


For further reading

Brain Images Focus on Stress Eaters' Neurological Response to Comfort Foods

By Marcia Wood
November 19, 2014

Stress eaters who load up on high-calorie goodies as a source of comfort when life gets tough may end up battling overweight or obesity. Either condition can increase the risk of heart attack, stroke or chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes. That's the reason why U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) nutrition researcher Kevin D. Laugero and colleagues are taking a close look at pathways inside the brain that link stress to unhealthy eating or, technically speaking, the neurophysiology of stress eating.

Laugero's investigations are part of ongoing obesity prevention research at the USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Western Human Nutrition Research Center in Davis, California, where Laugero is based.

In one of Laugero's most recent studies, featured in the November/December 2014 issue of Agricultural Research magazine, 30 healthy female volunteers age 20 to 53 were asked to evaluate the amount of chronic stress that problems with work, relationships, or finances were causing in their lives. Then, brain scans known as functional magnetic resonance images were taken while each volunteer viewed photos of high-calorie foods, healthy foods, or everyday objects such as coins.

Laugero's team of USDA and University of California-Davis scientists found that some patterns of brain activity in the high-chronic-stress volunteers differed markedly from those of low-chronic-stress participants. For example, activity in the prefrontal cortex, a region of the brain that regulates self-control and strategic decision-making, was essentially "turned off" when high-stress volunteers viewed calorie-rich foods. This was in contrast to the response revealed in brain scans of the low-stress volunteers who were shown the same photos.

For more than a decade, obesity researchers have used sophisticated neuroimaging technology to detect and map the way the brain responds to food. But Laugero's research, documented in a 2013 peer-reviewed scientific article in Physiology & Behavior, is unique and may help pave the way to science-based strategies that help stress eaters break the habit.

The study was funded by the University of California-Davis Imaging Research Center and by ARS, the USDA's principal intramural scientific research agency. The research may help improve health and nutrition, a USDA top priority.

Categories: USDA

Boosting Butanols Role in the Biofuel World

USDA Agricultural Research Service - Fri, 11/14/2014 - 06:31
Boosting Butanol's Role in the Biofuel World / November 14, 2014 / News from the USDA Agricultural Research Service
Read the magazine story to find out more.

 ARS chemical engineer controlling a butanol fermentor. Link to photo information.
ARS chemical engineer Nasib Qureshi and his colleagues have found barley straw and corn stover could be cost-effective sources for "biobutanol." Click the image for more information about it.


For further reading

Boosting Butanol’s Role in the Biofuel World

By Marcia Wood
November 14, 2014

The potential for producing butanol as a biofuel has become a bit more promising, thanks to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists and their partners. Work by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) chemical engineer Nasib Qureshi suggests that barley straw and corn stover—both agricultural byproducts—could be cost-effective feedstocks for producing “biobutanol.” ARS is USDA’s chief scientific research agency, and this work supports the USDA priority of developing new sources of bioenergy.

Gallon for gallon, butanol has 30 percent more energy than ethanol and only around 4 percent less energy than a gallon of petroleum-based gasoline. Qureshi has confirmed that both barley straw and corn stover can be converted to butanol via separate hydrolysis, fermentation, and recovery (SHFR) or by simultaneous saccharification, fermentation, and recovery (SSFR). In SSFR, releasing the plant sugars, fermenting them to butanol, and recovering the butanol are combined into a single operation that is performed in a single reactor.

In a recent study, Qureshi’s team used a process called gas stripping to “harvest” butanol fermented during SSFR. They obtained a final butanol yield that was 182 percent of the yield obtained from a control study that used glucose.

Using the same protocols, the scientists were able to ferment over 99 percent of the sugars in pretreated corn stover. This resulted in butanol yields that were 212 percent greater than yields observed from the controls, and 117 percent greater than the butanol yields from the barley straw.

Qureshi, University of Illinois professor Vijay Singh, Ohio State University associate professor Thaddeus Ezeji, and others also evaluated the effectiveness of producing butanol from corn stover in an SSFR process that used vacuum technology—not gas stripping—to simultaneously recover butanol during fermentation. The new process released more than 97 percent of the stover sugars, making them available for fermentation. The total butanol yield was 0.34 grams per liter per hour—higher than the glucose control yield of 0.31 grams per liter per hour.

Qureshi works at the ARS Bioenergy Research Unit in Peoria, Illinois. The scientists published their results in Bioresource Technology and Food and Bioproducts Processing in 2014.

Read more about this research in the November/December 2014 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.


Categories: USDA
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