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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

News from the Southeast Area

Agency Accomplishments


Dr. Agnes Rimando of the USDA, ARS, Natural Products Utilization Research Unit in Oxford, MS will be awarded the Kenneth A. Spencer Award, the most prestigious award of the American Chemical Society for agricultural and food chemistry.  The award will be bestowed at the 2016 Spencer Award Banquet in Kansas City, KS in September, 2016, and she will be further recognized by an Awards Symposium at the national ACS meeting in Philadelphia in August, 2016. She is most recognized for her discovery of the health benefits of

pterostilbene in the food supply.


Dr. Peter Balint-Kurti of the USDA, ARS, Plant Science Research Unit, Raleigh, NC will be the 2016 recipient of the Ruth Allen Award from the American Phytopathological Society.  The Ruth Allen Award “honors individuals who have made an outstanding, innovative research contribution that has changed, or has the potential to change, the direction of research in any field of plant pathology”.  It is a major award of APS.  The award will be presented to Dr. Balint-Kurti at the APS Annual Meeting, July 30-August 3, in Tampa, FL.


Important Events for the Upcoming Week


Aug. 1– 31, 2016, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Cross Area Inspections.  These cross-inspections will take place in order to prepare/correct any safety discrepancies prior to the BISHOP reviews that are expected to be conducted Oct. 31 – Nov. 4. 


August 21-31, 2016, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Lead Scientist, Gillian Eggleston of the Commodity Utilization Unit, New Orleans, LA has been invited to lead and conduct a 2-day  workshop on “Effects and Control of Starch and Dextran in the Sugar Industry” in Pattaya, Thailand by the Thai Sugar Industry.  She will also visit a sugar factory of the Mitrophol Company in Thailand.  Thailand is currently the second largest producer of sugarcane in the world. 


Outreach and Professional Activities:


September 5-16, 2016, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Research Chemist, Agnes Rimando, at the Natural Products Utilization Research Unit in Oxford, MS will accept her Kenneth A. Spencer Award and deliver a talk entitled “Think of Pterostilbene When You Eat Your Blueberries” at the award banquet on Sept 16, 2015. The Spencer Award celebration is integrated with the activities in the annual meeting of the American Chemical Society Kansas City Section, Sept. 15-17, where Dr. Rimando was invited to do other presentations. She will give a talk entitled “Effect of Pterostilbene, a Blueberry Constituent, on Memory and Metabolic Syndrome” on Sept. 15. On Sept. 17, she will do a presentation on “Paper Writing Tips” and was further invited to serve as member of a discussion panel on “Chemist Employment Exploration and Outlook.”    


September 11-16, 2016, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Research Geneticist B. Todd Campbell from the Coastal Plains Soil, Water, and Plant Research Center in Florence, SC will attend the Cotton Winter Nursery meeting in Liberia, Costa Rica.  He was invited to attend the meeting to provide technical advice and counsel on the cotton nursery.

August 29-30, 2016, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Drs. Georgia Eizenga and Shannon Pinson with Dale Bumpers National Rice Research Center in Stuttgart, AR will attend the Crop Science Society of America (CSSA) Board of Directors meeting in St. Louis, MO representing their respective divisions, C01: Breeding and Genetics and C09: Biomedical, Health Beneficial, and Nutritionally Enhanced Plants.  The purpose of this meeting is to view first-hand the successful public-private partnerships that have been established, especially in the area of plant science research, and to look for ways to connect these organizations with CSSA.  Organizations to be visited are the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, Monsanto Company, and the Missouri Botanical Garden.

September 4-10, 2016, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Research Leader, Arthur Hinton, Jr. of the Poultry Microbiological Safety and Processing Research Unit in Athens, GA will present a talk titled, "Isolation and identification of cecal bacteria that can inhibit the growth of Salmonella" at the XXV World's Poultry Congress in Beijing, China.


Aug 25-26, 2016, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Research Leader, Bob Danka and Biological Science Technician, Garrett Dodds of the Honey Bee Breeding, Genetics and Physiology Laboratory in Baton Rouge, LA will participate in the inaugural meeting of the “Bee Species Committee” hosted by the National Animal Germplasm Program (NAGP) in Fort Collins, CO. The Committee is a consortium of representatives of ARS, universities and the beekeeping industry who will provide guidance to the NAGP during development of a gene bank for bee genetic resources.


August 27, 2016, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Entomology Technician, Chris Werle of the Southern Horticultural Research Unit in Poplarville, MS will present some information on managing grape flea beetles in muscadine vineyards at the MSU muscadine field day in McNeill, MS.


August 27, 2016, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Horticulturist, Donna Marshall-Shaw of the Thad Cochran Southern Horticultural Laboratory in Poplarville, MS will present "Health Benefits of Muscadine Grape" at the Muscadine Field day in McNeill, MS.


August 28-31, 2016, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Research Agronomist, Phil Bauer from the Coastal Plains Soil, Water, and Plant Research Center in Florence, SC will attend the North American Plant Phenotyping Network Inaugural Convening Event, West Lafayette, IN and present “High throughput phenotyping of cotton in the southeast US.”


August 31, 2016, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Plant Molecular Geneticist, Tim Rinehart of the Southern Horticultural Research Unit in Poplarville, MS will present a talk titled "Sequencing the Genome: Hydrangea macrophylla genome secrets finally revealed" as an invited speaker at the SEGreen Plant Conference in Athens, GA.


News Clips:

ARS:  Athens, Ga. - Poultry disease is an international issue and developing animals resistant to disease may be one of the long-term solutions.  University of Georgia researchers Steven Stice and Franklin West in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and Claudio Afonso at the Southeast Poultry Research Laboratory of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service have spent the last four years gathering data that could make the process a reality.

The team used a technology platform called shRNA—single strands of RNA that fold back on themselves—to selectively stop the production of nucleic acids that cause disease, such as the Newcastle disease virus.  Dr. Afonso was responsible for the design of the products used to reduce virus replication (gene specific shRNA) and together with his team developed methods to conduct the challenges with virulent viruses and evaluate the results.  Initial experiments were conducted at UGA and final testing and evaluation was done at the BSL3 facilities of U.S. National Poultry Research Center in Athens.

The research team's tooling process for enhancing disease resistance, published recently in the Journal of the International Alliance for Biological Standardization, is potentially a much better way of disease protection than vaccination because it introduces permanent genetic resistance that is transmittable to a bird's offspring. In contrast, many vaccines provide protection for a given period of time and must be re-administered periodically.

Multiple types of animals and disease could be targeted. This technology could also be applied to avian influenza and swine flu.  To read the full story, "Delayed Newcastle disease virus replication using RNA interference to target the nucleoprotein," is available at


ARS News Articles

A New Vaccine to Fight Poultry Diseases
Mar 20, 2015
A New Spanish Peanut Variety for Consumers, Growers
Feb 24, 2015
Killing Fish Egg Fungus with a Disinfectant
Feb 18, 2015
USDA Research Yields Cotton Resistant to Top 20 Ag Threat
Feb 12, 2015
ARS Study Shows No Damage to Soils from Grazing of Cover Crops
Feb 11, 2015
Last Modified: 8/25/2016