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WRRC Update Oct 5, 2006

WRRC NEWS
WRRC logo
News from the Western Regional Research Center

Pacific West Area / Agricultural Research Service / United States Department of Agriculture

Number 1
Thursday, October 5, 2006   7:04:16 AM

Table of Contents

THE CENTERPARTNERING OPPORTUNITIESBIOFUELSENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY / INVASIVE SPECIESFOOD PROCESSING AND SAFETY

THE CENTER      
TOP
Research Innovation for Food and Agriculture
illuminationCourtyard view of recently renovated North-wing laboratories.

The amount and breadth of new knowledge generated every day from the Agricultural Research Service and WRRC can be daunting. The "golden spruces" that you need to know about may be lost in this green forest. The NEWS is a fast track to the latest WRRC information.

This first electronic newsletter "NEWS" is being sent to you because of interest that you have expressed in keeping abreast of WRRC accomplishments. It emphasizes research areas that we think you will find useful and interesting.

Please give us feedback on the format and content of this "pilot" run of NEWS.

Dr. James Seiber, Center Director, and the scientific staff of the Western Regional Research Center

KEYS: THE CENTER Seiber, James N. WRRC 

Record ID # 5      Tue, 29 Aug 2006 10:0:0 PDT        TOP
USDA Under Secretary Visits WRRC

Dr. Gale Buchanan, recently appointed Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics of USDA, visited WRRC and the Albany location on August 15, 2006. Dr. Buchanan is a former Director of the Agricultural Experiment Station in Georgia and active proponent of Land Grant University and ARS research. He received briefings in the Center's Food Safety research, Biobased Product / Biofuel and Plant Cell Wall research (joint with the Plant Gene Expression Center), and Healthy Foods research.

KEYS: THE CENTER 

Record ID # 8      Mon, 21 Aug 2006 10:0:0 PDT        TOP
PARTNERING OPPORTUNITIES      
TOP
Partnering with USDA
illumination

WRRC and the Agricultural Research Service actively seek partners for technology transfer to ensure effective use of the science and technology that we create. Partnerships can take multiple forms as described in the link below ("More")

More information

KEYS: PARTNERING OPPORTUNITIES Nicholson, David 

Record ID # 7      Thu, 17 Aug 2006 10:0:0 PDT        TOP
BIOFUELS      
TOP
Collaboration with DOE Joint Genome Institute to Sequence Genes from Switchgrass

Christian Tobias, research molecular biologist, ARS Genomics and Gene Discovery Research Unit, Albany, CA and Gautam Sarath, research molecular biologist, ARS Grain, Forage and Bioenergy Research Unit, University of Nebraska, Lincoln have joined in a collaboration with the DOE Joint Genome Institute to sequence 500,000 Expressed Sequence Tags (ESTs) from switchgrass. This will add substantially to the collection initiated at ARS and will support the continuing efforts of the ARS and other groups to improve the utility of switchgrass as an energy crop.

KEYS: BIOFUELS switch grass straw molecular biology Tobias, Christian GGD Genomics and Gene Discovery 

Record ID # 14      Tue, 1 Aug 2006 10:0:0 PDT        TOP
Ethanol Energy-Use Reduction by Cold Hydrolysis
illumination60's model of starch structure showing channels and layers of crystallinity.

Robertson, G.H., Wong, D., Lee, C.C., Wagschal, K.C., Smith, M.R., Orts, W.J. 2006. Native Or Raw Starch Digestion: a Key Step in Energy Efficient Biorefining of Grain. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 54:353-65.

Improved efficiency of grain starch to glucose is key to reducing energy use in the bioconversion of glucose to chemicals, ingredients, and fuels. In fuel ethanol production these biorefining steps use 10- 20% of the energy content of the fuel ethanol. There has been substantial prior and increased recent interest in this approach that is presented in this first review of the subject. We include incentives, developmental research, fundamental factors of raw starch digestion, and novel approaches in enzymology and processing.

More information

KEYS: BIOFUELS cereals wheat corn grain starch chemical engineering molecular biology enzymology Robertson, George H. Wong, Dominic BCE Bioproduct Chemistry and Engineering 

Record ID # 10      Thu, 27 Jul 2006 10:0:0 PDT        TOP
Ethanol Energy-Use Reduction by Novel Separation Device
illuminationSchematic view of separation device.

Energy efficiency of fuel ethanol is low in part because of the difficulty of separating water and ethanol. Scientists at WRRC have invented a solution to the problem of separating miscible compounds efficiently and with low energy requirements. This may be especially attractive to the separation of ethanol and water from fermentors in fuel ethanol production.

The key feature of the new device is that it performs solvent extraction and evaporation through a selective membrane (pervaporation) in a single piece of equipment, configured as a spiral-wound membrane module. It provides for the replenishment of the solvent in the supported liquid membrane while the module continues in operation.

More information

KEYS: BIOFUELS cereals ethanol grain straw chemical engineering Offeman, Richard Robertson, George H. BCE Bioproduct Chemistry and Engineering 

Record ID # 6      Wed, 9 Aug 2006 10:0:0 PDT        TOP
Farming for Fuel: Oakland Tribune Interviews Biofuels Researchers
illuminationC.Tobias and J. Vogel are re-engineering prairie grass as an energy crop. (D. Ross Cameron, Oakland Tribune staff).

Scientists from the Genomic and Gene Discovery Research Unit Western Regional Research Center in Albany, CA were interviewed by Reporter Ian Hoffman of the Oakland Tribune the weeks of July 16 and 23, 2006. Research Leader Olin Anderson, Christian Tobias, and John Vogel provided information on their research aimed at improving switchgrass through molecular biology which formed the basis for a front-page article: Inside Bay Area: Farming for Fuel which ran as a front page feature in the Tribune's Sunday edition, on July 30, 2006.

More information

KEYS: BIOFUELS switch grass grass straw molecular biology Anderson, Olin Vogel, John Tobias, Christian GGD Genomics and Gene Discovery 

Record ID # 2      Thu, 3 Aug 2006 10:0:0 PDT        TOP
Leading the Effort to Sequence the Genome of the Model Grass Brachypodium
illuminationBrachypodium in silhouette.

John Vogel (Genomics and Gene Discovery Unit, Albany, CA) and David Garvin (Plant Science Research Unit, St. Paul, MN) are two of the three co-project directors (along with Dr. Michael Bevan, United Kingdom) on a project approved by the Department of Energy's Community Sequencing Program to sequence the entire genome of Brachypodium. This sequence will be instrumental to understand the inner workings of genes important in biofuel production from dedicated energy crops, such as switchgrass, and residues of important crops including the small grains (wheat, barley, rye, oats), and corn and sorghum. Brachypodium is closely related to wheat and barley, and is projected to serve as a central research tool for improving these major food crops.

KEYS: BIOFUELS switch grass grass straw molecular biology Vogel, John GGD Genomics and Gene Discovery 

Record ID # 13      Tue, 1 Aug 2006 10:0:0 PDT        TOP
ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY / INVASIVE SPECIES      
TOP
ARS-NASA Collaboration on Remote Sensing of Invasive Weeds

ARS scientists in the Exotic and Invasive Weeds Unit at the Western Regional Research Center, Albany, California, will receive $300,000 through a subcontract with NASA. This is funding for the first piece of work focused on computer modeling and scheduling of remote sensing data collection using a combination of NASA tools and USDA biological information. It involves the use of NASA super computer facility at NASA Ames Moffett Field (CA) location. The second phase of the research is to apply the ARS SWAT model to several California watersheds. This phase is awaiting funding.

KEYS: ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY / INVASIVE SPECIES entomology plant physiology Carruthers, Raymond EIW Exotic and Invasive Weeds 

Record ID # 11      Wed, 26 Jul 2006 10:0:0 PDT        TOP
Scientist Noted in 'SCIENCE' for Efforts to Eradicate Invasive Seaweed.
illuminationMediterranean Caulerpa taxifolia, a disappearing act.

WRRC scientist Dr. Lars Anderson as part of the multiagency Southern California Caulerpa Action Team (SCCAT), and Chair of the teams Technical Advisory Committee, provided expertise and collaborative research that led to the successful eradication of the aggressively invasive marine alga Caulerpa taxifolia. This species has infested over 20,000 acres along the Mediterranean coast since 1985, but rapid containment and treatment actions carried out by SCCAT thwarted the first incursions of the invader in the US. The project has become a "case study" for effective response to new infestations of aquatic species. The team involved the San Diego Regional Water Board, California Department of Fish and Game, Merkel and Associates, NOAA-Fisheries, and USDA-ARS.

More information

KEYS: ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY / INVASIVE SPECIES Anderson, Lars Carruthers, Raymond EIW Exotic and Invasive Weeds 

Record ID # 9      Tue, 29 Aug 2006 10:0:0 PDT        TOP
FOOD PROCESSING AND SAFETY      
TOP
Grant to Study E.coli O157:H7 in Fresh Produce
illuminationCalifornia lettuce fields with E.Coli culture in inset.

CSREES Awards $1.17 Million Grant for study of the ecology and epidemiology of Escherichia coli O157:H7 in fresh produce production regions in California. The project involves collaboration between the ARS, WRRC, Produce Safety and Microbiology Research Unit, Albany, CA (Project Director, Robert Mandrell), UC Davis (Co-PD, Rob Atwill) and the California Department of Health Services, and assistance from representatives of produce and growers associations.

KEYS: FOOD PROCESSING AND SAFETY fruits vegetables microbiology Mandrell, Robert PSM Produce Safety and Microbiology 

Record ID # 1      Tue, 1 Aug 2006 10:0:0 PDT        TOP
Grant to Study Edible Anti-microbial Films Awarded

Notification of funding was received from the USDA-CSREES National Research Initiative that a grant proposal, "Development of novel apple and tomato antimicrobial films to improve food safety" was selected for funding. The team includes Scientists Tara McHugh and Roberto Avena-Bustillos of the WRRC Processed Foods Research Unit, Robert Mandrell and Mendel Friedman of the WRRC Produce Safety and Microbiology Research Unit, and Rob Atwill, Co-PI, University of California, Davis.

KEYS: FOOD PROCESSING AND SAFETY fruits vegetables food science microbiology Avena-Bustillos, Roberto McHugh, Tara Mandrell, Robert PSM Produce Safety and Microbiology PFR Processed Foods Research 

Record ID # 12      Wed, 26 Jul 2006 10:0:0 PDT        TOP
Preventing Aflatoxin Contamination of Food Commodities
illuminationAspergillus-infected walnuts.

Aflatoxin is a chemical made by certain fungi (eg. Aspergillus). It is one of the most potent natural cancer-causing agents known. Contamination of food by aflatoxin is a serious international food-safety and trade issue and results in billions of dollars of economic losses annually. Scientists at WRRC in the Plant Mycotoxin Research Unit (PMR) have discovered that certain natural, safe antioxidant compounds prevent fungi from making aflatoxin. Also, in collaboration with ARS scientists at the Food and Feed Safety Research Unit in New Orleans, the WRRC scientists have determined the genes that prevent making aflatoxin. Dr. Bruce C. Campbell, Research Leader of PMR, has been invited to present these findings to two up-coming symposia on latest breakthroughs in mycotoxin research. One will be at the National Meeting of the American Chemical Society Sept. 12-14, 2006, San Francisco and the other will be at the Mycoglobe International Conference, Sept. 26-28, 2006, Monopoli, Italy.

KEYS: FOOD PROCESSING AND SAFETY microbiology chemistry Campbell, Bruce PMR Plant Mycotoxin Research 

Record ID # 4      Mon, 7 Aug 2006 10:0:0 PDT        TOP
Prions via Mass Spectrometry
illuminationInlet port for nanospray mass spectrometer.

Prions are the infectious misfolded protein pathogens considered responsible for causing the Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy (TSE) diseases, including Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE-"mad cow disease"). We recently developed a highly sensitive method for detection of prions using nanospray liquid chromatography coupled to mass spectroscopy (nLC-MS-MS). We have filed a US Patent Application (no. 20060110785 linked below) and are now preparing a manuscript for publication. Our method is exquisitely sensitive, at least one million times more sensitive than other methods currently in use. This improvement in sensitivity will help us develop a blood test for BSE.

More information

KEYS: FOOD PROCESSING AND SAFETY feed beef dairy chemistry microbiology Onisko, Bruce Carter, John Mark FCR Foodborne Contaminants 

Record ID # 3      Thu, 3 Aug 2006 10:0:0 PDT        TOP


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WRRC Update Jan 10, 2007

WRRC NEWS
WRRC logo
News from the Western Regional Research Center

Pacific West Area / Agricultural Research Service / United States Department of Agriculture

Number 2
Wednesday, January 10, 2007   2:28:33 PM

Table of Contents

THE CENTER PARTNERING OPPORTUNITIES BIOBASED PRODUCTS / INDUSTRIAL CROPS BIOFUELS FOOD AND CROP IMPROVEMENT FOR PRODUCTION /PROTECTION FOOD PROCESSING AND SAFETY

KEYS: 

Record ID # 37      Wed, 10 Jan 2007 10:0:0 PDT         TOP
THE CENTER      
TOP
A greeting from the Center
illuminationBruce Campbell, Robert Mandrell, James Seiber, Maureen Whalen, Olin Anderson, Tara McHugh, Ray Carruthers, Bill Orts, and Mark Carter.

Dear Friends of WRRC:

We take this opportunity to wish you all a successful year in 2007!

This second issue of the Center's Newsletter will give you a sampling of our activities and accomplishments in the months since 'issue one' was compiled back in the summer, 2006. It was good to hear from so many of you in the meantime, and please keep the comments coming.

Our number of collaborations with those outside of the Center and Location, including with students and faculty, personnel at other USDA locations and in other agencies, and with commercial partners, via Cooperative Research and Development Agreements and other joint activities, is at an all-time high and increasing.

We will continue to advance the 'Innovation Center' concept for the science and scientists at this Location--in our major themes of food safety and healthfulness, new food and industrial products, bioenergy from agricultural biomass, and environmental quality enhancement, and other new areas of agricultural sciences.

On behalf of over 400 personnel at the Albany, CA Location of USDA-ARS, our Best Wishes to you all!

Jim Seiber, Director
Western Regional Research Center.

More information

KEYS: THE CENTER  Seiber, James N.  Anderson, Olin  Campbell, Bruce  Carruthers, Raymond  Carter, John Mark  Mandrell, Robert  McHugh, Tara  Orts, William J. 

Record ID # 17      Wed, 10 Jan 2007 10:0:0 PDT         TOP
A new fellow of SCRI: William Belknap
illuminationTo analyze genes in potatoes, plant physiologist William Belknap prepares potato tissue under liquid nitrogen, which keeps genetic material intact. Photo: K Hackman K7807-1

Dr. William Belknap has been elected an honorary Fellow of the Scottish Crop Research Institute (SCRI). Bill is a graduate of Indiana University and has been at WRRC since 1987. His research involves molecular genetics of potato improvement.The SCRI is Scotland's leading institute for research on plants and their interactions with the environment, particularly in managed ecosystems. Research at the institute focuses on processes that regulate the growth of plants and their responses to pests, pathogens and the environment. It includes genetics to breed crops with improved quality and nutritional value as fast as possible.

KEYS: THE CENTER potato molecular biology  Belknap, William  CIU Crop Improvement Utilization 

Record ID # 21      Wed, 10 Jan 2007 10:0:0 PDT         TOP
ACS Spencer Awardee: Russell Molyneux
illuminationKenneth A. Spencer award medal.

Dr. Russell Molyneux has been announced as the recipient of the Kenneth A. Spencer award from the American Chemical Society. This award is presented for outstanding achievement in agricultural and food chemistry as well as to stimulate research, education and industry to further progress in agricultural and food chemistry. The award recognizes Russell's exceptional originality in the application of chemistry to the quality assurance of livestock products and prevention of losses of livestock subjected to threats from plant poisoning, the use of natural constituents of plants to prevent contamination of food crops by mycotoxins, the identification of fungal metabolites responsible for the worldwide problem of premature death of grapevines, and the identification of hop flavor compounds. Russell is a PhD in organic chemistry from the University of Nottingham, UK 1963 and has been with WRRC since 1967 where he has prepared over 200 research papers, technical reports, and book chapters, 2 books and a patent. The award ceremony at the Kansas City, MO section of the ACS will include a mini symposium with speakers chosen by Dr. Molyneux.

Russell joins WRRC scientists A.K. Balls (1962) and Mendel Friedman (1998) as the third WRRC recipient of the Spencer Award.

KEYS: THE CENTER chemistry  Molyneux, Russell  PMR Plant Mycotoxin Research 

Record ID # 20      Wed, 10 Jan 2007 10:0:0 PDT         TOP
Annual UJNR scientific meeting hosted at WRRC

Tom McKeon acted as Secretary for the U.S. delegation to the United States-Japan 35th Annual Cooperative Program in Natural Resources Food and Agriculture Panel and acted as co-organizer of the meeting held in Sonoma, CA (October 22-27, 2006). This organization fosters bi-national research collaborations, and Dr. McKeon gave the invited lecture "Enzymes Involved in Castor Oil Biosynthesis." This conference included a visit to the WRRC by meeting attendees, organized by Maureen Whalen and Tom McKeon. Kent McCue and Grace Chen hosted a roundtable discussion on Food Functionality as a part of this visit.

KEYS: THE CENTER  McKeon, Thomas  McCue, Kent  Chen, Grace  Whalen, Maureen  CIU Crop Improvement Utilization 

Record ID # 35      Wed, 10 Jan 2007 10:0:0 PDT         TOP
Food for our fathers: Part I. A piece of our story
illuminationRecruitment poster now in the University of Wisconsin collection. The poster highlighting civilian activities in support of war efforts is in the style of 16th-century Italian painter Giuseppe Arcimboldo. Note beard and nose are built from a farmer holding a sheaf of wheat and there is a chemist in the background.

World War II placed many emergency demands on the civilian population. Scientists and engineers at the new WRRC set up and ran dehydration training schools to train a corps of experts who built and operated new dehydration facilities. Dehydrated foods were in high demand for soldiers' and civilians' rations in combat zones. This saved space and weight in the backpack and in shipment and no refrigeration was required. By producing compact lightweight foods the susceptibility to transoceanic supply intervention by submarines was also reduced. Incentives were offered to canners to convert to dehydration. Hands on training was provided at the Center (then the Western Regional Research Laboratory) in the pilot plant and allied laboratories.

Now iconic chemists, nutritionists, entomologists, engineers, and food technologists participated. Included were Agnes Faye Morgan (Morgan Hall, UC Berkeley), Cruess (Cruess Hall, UC Davis), Weigand (Weigand Hall, Oregon State University), Prescott and Proctor(MIT cofounders of IFT), Mrak (Chancellor of UC Davis; Mrak Hall, UC Davis), Essig (Essig Entomology Museum, UC Berkeley), Hanna (UC Davis mechanical tomato harverster), and others.

Recognition of the limitations of conventional dehydration technology led to extensive research in this and other preservation methods at the Albany laboratory.

KEYS: THE CENTER vegetables fruits chemical engineering food engineering food science microbiology plant physiology enzymology  Robertson, George H. 

Record ID # 19      Wed, 10 Jan 2007 10:0:0 PDT         TOP
PARTNERING OPPORTUNITIES      
TOP
Partnering with USDA
illumination

WRRC and the Agricultural Research Service actively seek partners for technology transfer to ensure effective use of the science and technology that we create. Partnerships can take multiple forms as described in the link below ("More")

More information

KEYS: PARTNERING OPPORTUNITIES  Nicholson, David 

Record ID # 7      Wed, 10 Jan 2007 10:0:0 PDT         TOP
BIOBASED PRODUCTS / INDUSTRIAL CROPS      
TOP
CRADA for natural rubber from guayule

Colleen McMahan, Maureen Whalen and Frederick Hahn completed a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with Yulex Corporation in October 2006. This agreement furthers the commercial introduction of natural rubber derived from the desert native plant guayule, the result of decades of ARS research at the Albany location. The function of this CRADA is to improve guayule as a rubber source to accelerate the deployment into the marketplace of commercial inventions including hypoallergenic biomedical products.

More information

KEYS: BIOBASED PRODUCTS / INDUSTRIAL CROPS guayule  McMahan, Colleen  Whalen, Maureen  Hahn, Frederick  CIU Crop Improvement Utilization 

Record ID # 32      Wed, 10 Jan 2007 10:0:0 PDT         TOP
BIOFUELS      
TOP
Ag BioEnergy (ABE), new architectures for bioenergy
illuminationImage Number K9843-1 At WRRC, technician Sarah Batt uses a robot to pick yeast colonies and transfer them onto starch plates, where they'll be screened for desirable enzyme production.
Photo by Scott Bauer.

The ABE program at WRRC is a cross-research-unit attack on the critical research issues leading to biofuels. It embodies the original vision of the Center by the founding 76th congress who projected bringing ".. into stimulating conjunction a group of inquiring, creative minds and the assemblage of unusual facilities which not only are the necessary tools of discovery in peacetime, but are doubly valuable in times of national emergency."

The scope of the program is to research new architectures for bioenergy production. Hence we are concerned with the architectures of the crop plant growing in the field, the molecules applied to the disassembly of the crop components, the biochemical pathways of the fermenting organisms, and the refining technologies.

The Center uniquely conducts research spanning molecular biology to pilot plant to create new pathways and architecture for the bridge from CO2 to fuel.

More information

KEYS: BIOFUELS wheat rice grass switch grass corn cellulose starch straw ethanol  Anderson, Olin  Orts, William J.  Whalen, Maureen  BCE Bioproduct Chemistry and Engineering  CIU Crop Improvement Utilization  GGD Genomics and Gene Discovery 

Record ID # 23      Wed, 10 Jan 2007 10:0:0 PDT         TOP
FOOD AND CROP IMPROVEMENT FOR PRODUCTION /PROTECTION      
TOP
Improved wheat quality

The scientific paper "A wheat QTL for grain protein Zn and Fe content is a NAC gene regulating senescence" co-authored by Ann Blechl appears in the prestigious journal Science in the November 24, 2006 issue. This research is aimed at increasing the nutritional value of wheat by isolating and characterizing a wheat gene that had been associated with grain protein, zinc and iron contents. A version of this gene from wild durum (pasta) wheat can be introduced into domestic wheats by breeding or genetic engineering to increase the protein, zinc and iron contents of domesticated wheats, making them more nutritious.

KEYS: FOOD AND CROP IMPROVEMENT FOR PRODUCTION /PROTECTION wheat molecular biology  CIU Crop Improvement Utilization 

Record ID # 33      Wed, 10 Jan 2007 10:0:0 PDT         TOP
International Gluten Workshop
illumination

At the International Gluten Workshop 2006 (San Francisco, CA September 14-16) hosted by American Association of Cereal Chemists, four members of CIU gave invited presentations on their research. Presentations included transgenic wheats with elevated levels of gluten (Ann Blechl), the effects of mineral nutrition and temperature on gluten proteins (Frances DuPont), identification of gluten subunits using mass spectrometry (William Vensel) and effects of fertilizer on allergen levels (Susan Altenbach).

KEYS: FOOD AND CROP IMPROVEMENT FOR PRODUCTION /PROTECTION wheat gluten molecular biology plant physiology  Altenbach, Susan  Dupont, Frances  Vensel, William  CIU Crop Improvement Utilization 

Record ID # 34      Wed, 10 Jan 2007 10:0:0 PDT         TOP
FOOD PROCESSING AND SAFETY      
TOP
Outbreak associated with E. coli O157:H7 and bagged, baby spinach, September 2006
illumination

Researchers of the Produce Safety and Microbiology Research Unit assisted in the unprecedented and intensive investigation of the September 2006 outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 associated with bagged, baby spinach that caused >200 illnesses in 26 states. Research Leader, Robert Mandrell, and members of PSMRU, Michael Cooley and Diana Chou, assisted the California Dept. of Health Services and the Food and Drug Branch in sampling farms identified in traceback investigations, they then cultured samples they and other investigators obtained, isolated E. coli O157:H7 strains and fingerprinted them for identification of outbreak strains. Their results in conjunction with the results of the state and federal investigators were important in identifying a single farm/ranch as the potential source of spinach associated with the outbreak. This effort is relevant to similar studies by this group of E. coli O157:H7 incidence in the Salinas Valley region to understand the multiple outbreaks with this pathogen associated with leafy vegetables in the last decade. This work is supported in the future by a 4-year grant by the USDA-CSREES-NRI grants program to ARS (R. Mandrell, PI) and UC Davis (E.R. Atwill, Co-PI).

KEYS: FOOD PROCESSING AND SAFETY spinach pathogens  Chao, Diana  Cooley, Michael  Mandrell, Robert  PSM Produce Safety and Microbiology 

Record ID # 36      Wed, 10 Jan 2007 10:0:0 PDT         TOP
Antimicrobial edible films research highlighted by the WASHINGTON POST
illumination

As interviewed in the Washington Post (Nov 17, 2006)

'A natural, edible coating could help keep deadly E. coli bacteria and other nasty bugs away from fresh produce, U.S. Government scientists report.

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture say the new compounds reduce the risk of infection from deadly E.coli O157:H7 bacteria and other foodborne microorganisms. They report their findings in the Nov. 29 issue of the Journal of Food and Agricultural Chemistry."

More information

KEYS: FOOD PROCESSING AND SAFETY fruits vegetables food science  McHugh, Tara  PFR Processed Foods Research 

Record ID # 26      Wed, 10 Jan 2007 10:0:0 PDT         TOP
California Energy Commission awards grant for energy-efficient drying technology

The Energy Innovations Small Grant (EISG) Program of the California Energy Commission (CEC) has awarded $74,785 to Drs. Zhongli Pan and Tara McHugh for developing energy efficient processing method for drying fruits and vegetables. The goal of this research project is to develop an alternative drying technology with high energy efficiency to produce high quality dehydrated or partially dehydrated fruits and vegetables. The new processing technology would produce processed products with improved texture and nutritional quality, and lower production costs compared to current freeze-drying technologies. For more information, please contact:

KEYS: FOOD PROCESSING AND SAFETY fruits vegetables  Pan, Zhongli  McHugh, Tara  PFR Processed Foods Research 

Record ID # 29      Wed, 10 Jan 2007 10:0:0 PDT         TOP
CRADA Project: Alternative processing for dehydrated and partially dehydrated products

A Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) project has been sponsored by Innovative Foods, Inc. to develop alternative processing technologies for producing dehydrated and partially dehydrated fruits and vegetable products. The principle investigators, Drs. Zhongli Pan and Tara McHugh, will study the energy efficiencies and product quality of infrared dry-blanching of fruits and vegetables using a pilot scale infrared dryer/blancher. Both USDA-ARS and Innovative Foods Inc. are interested in promoting the adoption of the new energy efficient infrared heating technology in the food industry. For more information, please contact:

KEYS: FOOD PROCESSING AND SAFETY fruits vegetables food engineering  Pan, Zhongli  McHugh, Tara  PFR Processed Foods Research 

Record ID # 30      Wed, 10 Jan 2007 10:0:0 PDT         TOP
Extrusion cooking of legumes highlighted by Pulse Innovation Press
illumination

As highlighted in Pulse Innovation (Nov. 7, 2006). J.D. Berrios, 2006. Extrusion Cooking of Legumes: Dry Bean Flours. Encyclopedia of Agricultural, Food, and Biological Engineering. DOI: 10.1081:1-8.

Extrusion cooking technology had been used to inactivate anti-nutrients; reduce the cooking time and the amount of gas producing carbohydrates; and to improve the nutrition, texture and flavor of the developed dry bean products. This article presents a valuable and critical review of the available information on the physical, chemical, nutritional and sensorial evaluations of dry bean flours with reduced gas-producing carbohydrates and their potential utilization as safe, convenient and healthy, directly expanded extruded snacks and ready-to-eat type products.

More information

KEYS: FOOD PROCESSING AND SAFETY beans pulses food science  Berrios, Jose  McHugh, Tara  PFR Processed Foods Research 

Record ID # 25      Wed, 10 Jan 2007 10:0:0 PDT         TOP
New antibody for BSE testing
illumination

Through a collaboration with Nobel Laureate Dr. Stanley Prusiner, of the University of California San Francisco, we recently filed a patent application for a new monoclonal antibody, “Antibodies Specific for Bovine PrP,” (US Patent application PCT/US06/09752, filed March 18, 2006). This antibody is specific for a protein (PrP) mostly found in brain and spinal cord tissue, and closely associated with Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE, or “mad cow” disease). Although PrP is found in all mammals, our new antibody is specific for PrP from cattle. Using Dr. Prusiner’s Conformation Dependent Immunoassay format, our new antibody provides a 500-fold increase in sensitivity. This work was recently featured in a lecture presented at the 232rd National Meeting and Exposition of the American Chemical Society in San Francisco, CA. AGFD 199, “Isolation and characterization of new anti-PrP monoclonal antibodies,” Stanker LH, Serban AV, Safar, J, Prusiner, SB. We plan to leverage this increase in sensitivity in exploring new blood tests for BSE.

More information

KEYS: FOOD PROCESSING AND SAFETY beef cattle pathogens molecular biology  Carter, John Mark  FCR Foodborne Contaminants 

Record ID # 15      Wed, 10 Jan 2007 10:0:0 PDT         TOP
New tests for detection of toxins
illuminationImage Number K11635-1 Biologist Larry Stanker (standing) and chemist David Brandon review results of a rapid immunoassay. They are developing new technology for sensitive detection of BSE, surrogate markers, and risk factors.
Photo by Peggy Greb.

Captured terrorist notebooks describe plans to attack the US food supply by contaminating commodities with potent biological toxins. Rapid and sensitive detection of these toxins is possible using commercially available tests, which were developed against pharmacy-grade purified toxins. But we expect terrorists are more likely to employ relatively crude toxin mixtures, and our challenge is to detect them in complex food mixtures. We are developing a new range of simple and rapid laboratory tests aimed at crude toxins in food. These include antibody based tests for ricin and botulinum toxin. This work was recently featured in lectures presented at the 232rd National Meeting and Exposition of the American Chemical Society in San Francisco, CA: AGRO 235, “Development of new monoclonal antibodies specific for botulinum neurotoxin type A,” Stanker LH, Merrill PA, Cheng LW, Carter JM, Brandon DL; and AGRO 234, “Development of monoclonal antibodies specific for ricin. ACS National Meeting and Exposition,” Brandon DL, Cheng LW, He X, Carter JM. After further characterization, selection of appropriate combinations for assay development, and validation using crude toxins in foods, the antibodies will be available for license.

We have also developed a sensitive PCR test for castor bean genetic material that typically contaminates crude ricin. This work has recently been accepted for publication: He X, Brandon DL, Chen GQ, McKeon TA, and Carter JM. 2006. “Detection of castor contamination in ground beef by real-time PCR,” Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, accepted. The Food Emergency Response Network has shown interest in validating this assay for use in civil defense emergencies.

KEYS: FOOD PROCESSING AND SAFETY toxin microbiology  Stanker, Larry  FCR Foodborne Contaminants 

Record ID # 16      Wed, 10 Jan 2007 10:0:0 PDT         TOP
Norovirus binds to blood group A-like antigens in oyster cells
illuminationOyster gastrointestinal tissue section showing blood group A-like antigens and Norwalk virus like particles bound to antigens

Peng Tian, Anne H. Bates, Hanne M. Jensen, and Robert E. Mandrell. “Norovirus Binds to Blood Group A-Like Antigens in Oyster Gastrointestinal Cells”. Letters in Applied Microbiology; 2006; Web Release date: 18-Aug-2006.

In this study, histo-blood group antigens (HBGA) were identified in oyster gastrointestinal (GI) cells with specific monoclonal antibodies and shown to bind recombinant Norwalk virus viral like particles. All oyster varieties examined bound the rNVLPs. The results of this study suggest that human Noroviruses concentrate in oyster GI cells by specific binding to concentrated HBGA rather than by a non-specific entrapment within tissues, and provides information important for development of interventions to minimize contamination.

More information

KEYS: FOOD PROCESSING AND SAFETY seafood pathogens microbiology molecular biology  Tian, Peng  Mandrell, Robert  PSM Produce Safety and Microbiology 

Record ID # 22      Wed, 10 Jan 2007 10:0:0 PDT         TOP
Sub-speciation of foodborne pathogens by proteomics of protein biomarkers
illuminationCampylobacter jejuni presented by scanning electron microscopy.

Clifton K. Fagerquist, Anna H. Bates, Sekou Heath, Bryan C. King, Brandon R. Garbus, Leslie A. Harden, and William G. Miller. "Sub-Speciating Campylobacter jejuni by Proteomic Analysis of Its Protein Biomarkers and Their Post-Translational Modifications".

Journal of Proteome Research; 2006; ASAP Web Release Date: 19-Aug-2006.

Synopsis: Matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF-MS) is utilized increasingly to identify and classify rapidly bacterial microorganisms on the basis of a unique MS "fingerprint" of protein biomarker masses. Identification of these biomarkers, by proteomics techniques, validates this chemico-taxonomic classification system for bacteria. Detection and identification of Campylobacter jejuni protein biomarkers by MALDI-TOF-MS and proteomic analysis facilitates accurate sub-speciation of this important foodborne bacterial microorganism.

More information

KEYS: FOOD PROCESSING AND SAFETY pathogens proteomics  Fagerquist, Clifton  Mandrell, Robert  PSM Produce Safety and Microbiology 

Record ID # 24      Wed, 10 Jan 2007 10:0:0 PDT         TOP
The pit detector for plums
illuminationDetail from Prunus domestica, "Pacific Prune." —Part of the Pomological Watercolors Collection at the ARS National Agricultural Library. (300 dpi version in .ZIP format)

An apparatus and method for the non-destructive detection of pits and pit fragments found in dried fruit has been developed. It utilizes a force transducer and a signal processor to determine whether or not pit or pit fragments are present in a fruit specimen, and is able to automatically separate specimens testing positive from the product. "More information" link is to patent.

Other links:

AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH. article by Marcia Wood, ARS Information Staff.
Haff, R. P., Jackson, E. S. and Pearson, T. C. Non-Destructive Detection of Pits in Dried Plums. Applied Engineering in Agriculture.Vol. 21(6): 1021-1026. 2005.

More information

KEYS: FOOD PROCESSING AND SAFETY fruits agricultural engineering  Haff, Ronald  Jackson, Eric  PMR Plant Mycotoxin Research 

Record ID # 27      Wed, 10 Jan 2007 10:0:0 PDT         TOP
UC Davis Energy Efficiency Center awards Outreach Project for infrared heating for food processing

With a leadership grant from the California Clean Energy Fund (CalCEF) of $1 million, the University of California, Davis has established the Energy Efficiency Center (EEC) to accelerate energy efficiency innovation and to stimulate the transfer of the technology into the marketplace. Recently, the UC Davis EEC has announced to fund a proposal for the outreach of the Infrared Heating Technology for Food Processing. The fund will be used to assist the commercialization of energy efficient infrared heating technology focusing on applications of simultaneous dry-blanching and sequential infrared and freeze-drying of fruits and vegetables.

KEYS: FOOD PROCESSING AND SAFETY fruits vegetables food engineering  Pan, Zhongli  McHugh, Tara  PFR Processed Foods Research 

Record ID # 31      Wed, 10 Jan 2007 10:0:0 PDT         TOP


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WRRC Update June 29, 2007
WRRC NEWS
WRRC logo
News from the Western Regional Research Center

Pacific West Area / Agricultural Research Service / United States Department of Agriculture

Number  3

Friday, June 29, 2007   

Rev. (Monday, July 2, 2007   11:56:26 AM)

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Table of Contents

THE CENTER      
TOP
Biomass and biorefining the focus of WRRC-hosted "Tetrapartite 2007"
illuminationDrs. Knipling and Seiber (USDA-front), Betschart (USDA-middle right) Pai-Yei Whung (USDA OIRP-middle left) and Hackett (USDA, NPS-top left) with some of Tetrapartite international delegation. Canada, France, Britain, and the United States regularly hold high level meetings on issues of importance to Agriculture. This meeting, the Tetrapartite, met this year at the Center with a primary focus on research efforts towards improving lignocellulosic biomass from switchgrass and other potential biomass candidates and on means being developed for the biorefining of these and other feedstocks. A complete list of delegates and more about the meeting is provided at the "More information" link below.

More information

KEYS:
THE CENTER     ethanol     straw     grain     cellulose     Seiber, James N.     WRRC     
Record ID # 39      Fri, 29 Jun 2007 10:0:0 PDT        TOP
Energy research tour led by California State Secretary of Agriculture
illuminationJeff Van Houten (PWA-USDA), Dawn Glover (California Legislature), James Seiber (USDA), A.G. Kawamura and Eric Stein (California Department of Food and Agriculture). Energy-related research was the focus of a tour attended by California Secretary of Agriculture A.G. Kawamura, Cynthia Cory (California Farm Bureau), Eric Stein (California Department of Food and Agriculture), George Gough (Monsanto), Dawn Glover California Legislature), and Betsy Peterson (California Seed Association). The broadly conceived Center efforts on bioenergy feedstocks, bioenergy conversion, biorefining, and biobased products were the central focus of the tour.

KEYS:
THE CENTER     ethanol     Seiber, James N.     BCE Bioproduct Chemistry and Engineering     CIU Crop Improvement Utilization     GGD Genomics and Gene Discovery     WRRC     
Record ID # 52      Fri, 29 Jun 2007 10:0:0 PDT        TOP
Pacific West Area Early Career Scientist of the Year Award
illumination Please join us in congratulating Dr. Zhongli Pan who was recently awarded the USDA, ARS, Pacific West Area Early Career Scientist of the Year Award. Dr. Pan joined USDA-ARS in August of 2003. Since then, Dr. Pan has developed innovative processing methods to improve the value and healthfulness of a wide range of specialty crops and commodities. His research has also been successful in reducing the energy required to process agricultural products, thereby lessening the environmental impact of processing. In addition, Dr. Pan has been able to extend the benefits of his research further to improve food product safety. His research has not only resulted in 103 publications, but has also attracted over $1.7 million in extramural support from commodity organizations, state energy commissions and industrial partners.

KEYS:
THE CENTER     food engineering     food science     agricultural engineering     Pan, Zhongli     PFR Processed Foods Research     
Record ID # 60      Mon, 2 Jul 2007 10:0:0 PDT        TOP
PARTNERING OPPORTUNITIES      
TOP
Partnering with USDA
illumination WRRC and the Agricultural Research Service actively seek partners for technology transfer to ensure effective use of the science and technology that we create. Most research programs described in this newsletter would benefit from, and are available to, commercial partners. Partnerships can take multiple forms as described in the link "More Information" below.

More information

KEYS:
PARTNERING OPPORTUNITIES     Nicholson, David     
Record ID # 48      Fri, 29 Jun 2007 10:0:0 PDT        TOP
BIOBASED PRODUCTS / INDUSTRIAL CROPS      
TOP
New Compounds in Castor
Jiann-Tsyh Lin was lead author on a scientific paper describing the discovery of an entirely new subclass of fatty compounds in castor oil, published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry. This new class of compounds has a variety of potential commercial applications.

KEYS:
BIOBASED PRODUCTS / INDUSTRIAL CROPS     castor     oils     molecular biology     Lin, Jiann     Whalen, Maureen     CIU Crop Improvement Utilization     
Record ID # 54      Fri, 29 Jun 2007 10:0:0 PDT        TOP
US-Pakistan grant for fertilizer formulation
illuminationDr. Imam demonstrates BCE-commercialized products. Grants: Syed Imam received a 3-year grant (US$ 300,000) under the U.S. – Pakistan Cooperative Science and Technology Program. The grant, titled “Development, Optimization, and Application of a High-Performing Engineered Fertilizer”, is a multidisciplinary project that combines fundamental knowledge of plant growth and development with polymer science and engineering to create a novel, high-impact fertilizer of superior functionality with an inherent sustained delivery mechanism.

More information

KEYS:
BIOBASED PRODUCTS / INDUSTRIAL CROPS     fertilizer     chemistry     Imam, Syed     Orts, William J.     BCE Bioproduct Chemistry and Engineering     
Record ID # 46      Fri, 29 Jun 2007 10:0:0 PDT        TOP
American Oil Chemists' Society Meeting
Three CIU scientists delivered invited talks at the Annual Meeting of the American Oil Chemists' Society in Quebec City, Canada in May 13-16, 2007. Presentations included identification of specific fatty compounds in castor oil (Jiann-Tsyh Lin), synthesis of novel compounds for analysis of enzymes involved in oil production in oilseed crops (Thomas McKeon) and development of a safe source of castor oil (Grace Chen, Thomas McKeon and Jiann-Tsyh Lin).

KEYS:
BIOBASED PRODUCTS / INDUSTRIAL CROPS     castor     oils     chemistry     molecular biology     Chen, Grace     Lin, Jiann     McKeon, Thomas     CIU Crop Improvement Utilization     
Record ID # 56      Fri, 29 Jun 2007 10:0:0 PDT        TOP
BIOFUELS      
TOP
Featured scientist: Kurt Wagschal, researches novel enzymes for the breakdown of biomass leading to biofuels
illumination Find out more about Kurt at the link for "more information" and the link for "Wagschal, Kurt" below.

More information

KEYS:
BIOFUELS     cellulose     ethanol     hemicellulose     molecular biology     chemistry     Wagschal, Kurt     BCE Bioproduct Chemistry and Engineering     
Record ID # 50      Fri, 29 Jun 2007 10:0:0 PDT        TOP
ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY / INVASIVE SPECIES      
TOP
Finding beneficial effects of rodents following range fires
illuminationKangaroo rats may be beneficial to rangeland grasses. Effect of Prescribed Fire on Two Species of Kangaroo Rats in the Western Great Basin, Nevada. American Midland Naturalist. (ARIS log #206501) Murray, A.L., W.S. Longland, S.M Ostoja, and E.W. Schupp.
Cheatgrass and other weedy exotic annual plants currently dominate many areas of the Great Basin that were formerly sagebrush dominated. Prescribed fires have been used by range managers to remove cheatgrass before re-seeding these areas with plants that provide more desirable forage for livestock and wildlife. Local rodent species constitute a generally unappreciated variable that can influence the success of such re-seeding efforts. Most rodents are seed-eaters, but some types of rodents, such as kangaroo rats, also cache numerous seeds just beneath the soil surface, providing the main source of new seedlings for some plants. Because of the potential for rodents to influence plant populations and for fire to influence both plants and rodent activities, we studied how kangaroo rats respond to a prescribed fire at a cheatgrass infested site in western Nevada. More kangaroo rats were captured, and a higher proportion that had been marked before the fire were recaptured after the fire, in locations that were burned than in adjacent locations that were not burned. This occurred because kangaroo rats in burned areas increased their activity following fire, perhaps due to recovering and re-distributing seeds they had cached in the area. This behavior can ultimately affect post-fire recovery in plant communities, and is thus important for managers to understand.

KEYS:
ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY / INVASIVE SPECIES     invasive alien weed     biological control     Longland, William     EIW Exotic and Invasive Weeds     
Record ID # 45      Fri, 29 Jun 2007 10:0:0 PDT        TOP
New biological control agent for yellow starthistle
illuminationCeratapion basicorne, a Turkish weevil for bio control of yellow starthistle. Yellow starthistle is one of the most damaging weeds in California, infesting over 14 million acres. Development of effective biological control agents will provide self-sustaining control of the weed without harming non-target species, and will reduce application of herbicides. The safety and potential impact of releasing Ceratapion basicorne, a weevil from Turkey, for biological control of yellow starthistle was evaluated by Dr.Lincoln Smith. All the information available regarding the potential benefits and risks of releasing this insect was summarized in a "petition" that was reviewed by the Technical Advisory Group (TAG). TAG, which includes representatives from all the federal land management agencies, recommended approval to release Ceratapion basicorne. USDA-APHIS-PPQ, which regulates the introduction of such insects, is currently reviewing a release permit application from Dr. Smith. Ceratapion basicorne attacks the root-crown of yellow starthistle rosettes and should help other previously released flowerhead insects to reduce the size and abundance of yellow starthistle.

More information

KEYS:
ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY / INVASIVE SPECIES     invasive alien weed     entomology     Smith, Lincoln     EIW Exotic and Invasive Weeds     
Record ID # 40      Fri, 29 Jun 2007 10:0:0 PDT        TOP
FOOD AND CROP IMPROVEMENT FOR PRODUCTION /PROTECTION      
TOP
CRADA with J.R. Simplot Company
illumination William Belknap completed a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement with the J.R. Simplot Company in April 2007. This agreement furthers commercial development of "intragenic" crop plants, plants improved by introduction of new traits using DNA only from the host species. This technology allows application of biotechnological approaches to crop improvement, without employing any foreign DNA. The function of this CRADA is to develop "intragenic" disease-resistant potato plants.

KEYS:
FOOD AND CROP IMPROVEMENT FOR PRODUCTION /PROTECTION     potato     molecular biology     Belknap, William     Whalen, Maureen     CIU Crop Improvement Utilization     
Record ID # 55      Fri, 29 Jun 2007 10:0:0 PDT        TOP
Improved wheat
illumination The scientific paper "The wheat and barley vernalization gene VRN3 is an orthologue of FT" co-authored by Ann Blechl appeared in the prestigious journal Proceedings National Academy of Sciences USA in the December 19, 2006 issue. This research resulted in the identification of a gene (VRN3) that determines whether wheat and barley seeds require exposure to winter cold to promote flowering, a process called vernalization. This research gives wheat and barley breeders a valuable new tool for optimizing flowering for different varieties grown under different climate conditions.


KEYS:
FOOD AND CROP IMPROVEMENT FOR PRODUCTION /PROTECTION     wheat     barley     molecular biology     Blechl, Ann     Whalen, Maureen     CIU Crop Improvement Utilization     
Record ID # 53      Fri, 29 Jun 2007 10:0:0 PDT        TOP
FOOD PROCESSING AND SAFETY      
TOP
International grant to PMR scientists
illuminationThe former Soviet Union. A research collaboration involving Dr. Bruce Campbell, Research Leader of the Plant Mycotoxin Research Unit, and two Russian scientists, Dr. Vitaly Dzhavakhiya (All Russian Research Institute of Phytopathology) and Dr. Radii Khomutov (Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow) will be funded by the ARS Office of International Research Programs (OIRP). The project is established under OIRP's Former Soviet Union Scientific Cooperation Program. The research will focus on novel approaches to reduce fungal infection and mycotoxin biosynthesis by using new, safe methods that target polyketide synthase and antioxidative stress-response systems of fungi.

More information

KEYS:
FOOD PROCESSING AND SAFETY     plant physiology     microbiology     Campbell, Bruce     PMR Plant Mycotoxin Research     
Record ID # 47      Fri, 29 Jun 2007 10:0:0 PDT        TOP
New findings relate to delay of disease symptoms for BSE
illumination Transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE) includes serious diseases, such as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in cattle and Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD) in humans. TSEs remain poorly understood. They are inevitably fatal, and there is no known cure or effective treatment. We are investigating a biocompatible hydrogel that generates a very unusual response in a rodent TSE model. When hydrogel is co-administered with a disease challenge, most subjects show a remarkable delay in the onset of disease symptoms and a significant increase in survival time. We are currently preparing a manuscript for publication, describing these extraordinary observations in more detail.

KEYS:
FOOD PROCESSING AND SAFETY     animal pathology     Carter, John Mark     Hnasko, Robert     FCR Foodborne Contaminants     
Record ID # 44      Fri, 29 Jun 2007 10:0:0 PDT        TOP
New test for detection of possible contamination of crude ricin
illuminationCastor beans are a source of important industrial oil but also contain the potent biotoxin ricin. The US food supply is generally safe and secure. But if terrorists were to stage an attack, we expect that they might use relatively crude biological toxinsthat they could acquire more easily than more potent purified material. We have developed sensitive Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests for the castor bean genetic material that typically contaminates crude ricin. We recently published a manuscript describing the first half of this work: X He, D L Brandon, G Q Chen, T A McKeon, J M Carter (2007) “Detection of castor contamination by real-time PCR,” Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, Vol 55, pp 545-550. A second manuscript: X He, J M Carter, D L Brandon, L W Cheng, T A McKeon (2007) “Development of a real time PCR method for the detection of castor contamination in spiked food samples,” has been accepted by the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. The Food Emergency Response Network has shown interest in validating our PCR assays for use in civil defense emergencies.

More information

KEYS:
FOOD PROCESSING AND SAFETY     beans     oils     molecular biology     Chen, Grace     McKeon, Thomas     Carter, John Mark     He, Xiaohua     FCR Foodborne Contaminants     CIU Crop Improvement Utilization     
Record ID # 43      Fri, 29 Jun 2007 10:0:0 PDT        TOP
Safety of residues from novel biodiesel technology
illuminationPost-Doctoral Research Chemist Cathrin Bruederle conducts biodiesel method development at WRRC. The epidemic of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in Europe has led to a world-wide drop in the market for beef by-products, such as meat-and-bone-meal (MBM), an oily non-food commodity. We are testing a simple chemical method that produces biodiesel directly from MBM. In collaboration with experts on fats and animal co-products at the USDA ARS Eastern Regional Research Center, we hope to show that, in addition to producing valuable fuel the method also destroys any infectivity present, while simultaneously producing a value-added solid residue. To study infectivity we spike MBM with scrapie, a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE) similar to BSE, but endemic in sheep and not known to be transmissible to humans. Preliminary results using biochemical methods to assess the treated products for infectivity suggest the TSE is completely destroyed. Definitive in vivo tests for infectivity are pending and feeding trials are planned.

More information

KEYS:
FOOD PROCESSING AND SAFETY     cattle     beef     fats     microbiology     Carter, John Mark     Bruederle, Cathrin     FCR Foodborne Contaminants     
Record ID # 42      Fri, 29 Jun 2007 10:0:0 PDT        TOP
San Francisco Federal Employee of the Year award for food safety research
illuminationMichael Cooley, Rob Mandrell and Diana Chao collecting samples in the field. On May 11, Michael Cooley, Diana Chao and Robert Mandrell, Produce Safety and Microbiology Research Unit received the award at the 29th Annual San Francisco Bay Area Federal Employee of the Year Awards Program. The recognition was for food safety research on Escherichia coli O157:H7 related to multiple outbreaks associated with leafy vegetables grown on the Central California Coast.

KEYS:
FOOD PROCESSING AND SAFETY     leafy vegetables     cattle     microbiology     Cooley, Michael     Mandrell, Robert          PSM Produce Safety and Microbiology     
Record ID # 41      Fri, 29 Jun 2007 10:0:0 PDT        TOP


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WRRC Update Jan 29, 2008

WRRC UPDATE

Print Version

WRRC logo
Update from the Western Regional Research Center

Pacific West Area / Agricultural Research Service / United States Department of Agriculture


Tuesday, January 29, 2008   

Rev. (Monday, February 4, 2008   2:03:52 PM)

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Table of Contents

THE CENTER      
TOP
Center announcement regarding Outstanding Early Career Scientist Award
illumination Washington, D.C. - location of ARS Annual Recognition Program on February 12, 2008. Photo by Scott Bauer. Dr. Zhongli Pan, Research Engineer, Processed Foods Research Unit, USDA-ARS-WRRC, won the USDA ARS Herbert L. Rothbart Outstanding Early Career Scientist Award of 2007 for his Innovative, High Impact Engineering Solutions to Value-added Processing of Agricultural Commodities. He will be recognized at the ARS Annual Recognition Program on February 12, 2008, in Washington, DC. Dr. Pan has also been nominated for the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers.

Keywords: * THE CENTER * food engineering *

Contact: Zhongli Pan

Organizational Unit: PFR Processed Foods Research

Record ID # 65      Mon, 28 Jan 2008 10:0:0 PDT        TOP
Dwayne Buxton, Pacific West Area Director, retires after 29 years of Federal service
illuminationDwayne Buxton and Veronica Laird, Executive Assistant. Photo courtesy of Delilah Wood. Dwayne Buxton, Pacific West Area Director, retired on January 3, 2008. Dr. Buxton retired with 29 years of Federal service, including 26 years with the Agricultural Research Service (ARS).

Dr. Buxton came to ARS as a Plant Physiologist in Ames, Iowa, in 1981, after serving as Assistant Professor and Professor of Agronomy at the University of Arizona and Oregon State University, respectively. He became a Research Leader of the former Field Crops Research Unit in Ames in 1990, and then joined the National Program Staff (NPS) in 1997 as National Program Leader for Oilseeds and Bioscience. Following a brief detail as Associate Director of the Midwest Area in 2000, he returned to Beltsville, Maryland, to serve as Deputy Administrator for NPS from 2000-2004. Finally, he became Director of the Pacific West Area in 2004.

In addition to being respected and admired as a leader and manager, Dr. Buxton was an outstanding researcher as a Plant Physiologist early in his ARS career. Focusing on forage and crop physiology, he conducted innovative research on developing forages with insect resistance, using crops and forage grasses for biomass production, and improving overall forage and crop quality.
--Excerpt from November 13, 2007 memo from Edward B. Knipling, Administrator

Keywords: * THE CENTER *

Contact: James N. Seiber

Organizational Unit: WRRC

Record ID # 80      Mon, 28 Jan 2008 10:0:0 PDT        TOP
WRRC Research Partnership Meeting to be held March 5, 2008
illuminationWRRC Laboratory, Albany, California. On March 5, 2008 the Western Regional Research Center (WRRC) will host its annual Research Partnership Meeting. The general aim of this event is information flow between WRRC, the ARS’ largest and principal research location in the West, and its customers, stakeholders and supporters. Last year, 25 individuals representing food and agricultural organizations and companies participated in the meeting. Specifically, these meetings highlight the many resources available to WRRC partners and provides an opportunity for WRRC to receive input from partners on issues that can benefit from ARS research.


Keywords: * THE CENTER *

Contact: James N. Seiber, David Nicholson

Organizational Unit: WRRC

Record ID # 79      Mon, 28 Jan 2008 10:0:0 PDT        TOP
PARTNERING OPPORTUNITIES      
TOP
Partnering with USDA
illumination WRRC and the Agricultural Research Service actively seek partners for technology transfer to ensure effective use of the science and technology that we create. Most research programs described in this newsletter would benefit from, and are available to, commercial partners. Partnerships can take multiple forms as described in the link "More Information" below.

More information

Keywords: * PARTNERING OPPORTUNITIES *

Contact: David Nicholson, Kristin Kimball



Record ID # 81      Mon, 28 Jan 2008 10:0:0 PDT        TOP
BIOFUELS      
TOP
Bioenergy production from a mixture of dairy cow manure and food waste
illuminationCombined with food waste, dairy cow manure is a promising biofuel source. Photo by Scott Bauer. Alternative energy products are needed to reduce our dependence on foreign petroleum. In addition, dairy cow manure must be treated to reduce pathogens which can cause human disease. Dairy manure and food waste can both be used to generate methane, but neither is ideal. Manure is a well buffered substrate that produces methane slowly, and food waste produces methane rapidly but is poorly buffered, which results in the inhibition of methane production. In a collaboration with UC Davis, our scientists discovered that a mixture of food waste and manure digests well, producing methane, reducing pathogens in the waste, and generating a compost suitable as a soil conditioner/fertilizer. This discovery has the potential to produce biofuel while reducing pathogens in waste and wastewater. This work has been submitted for publication.

Keywords: * BIOFUELS * dairy * beef * pathogens * energy * agricultural engineering * microbiology *

Contact: John Mark Carter, Jeffery McGarvey

Organizational Unit: FCR Foodborne Contaminants

Record ID # 77      Mon, 28 Jan 2008 10:0:0 PDT        TOP
ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY/INVASIVE SPECIES      
TOP
ARS responds to aquatic weed invasions at Lake Tahoe
illuminationAerial view of Lake Tahoe. Lake Tahoe is considered one of the world’s most unique alpine, low-nutrient (oligotrophic) lakes. However, its pristine status has been threatened by a number of events such as massive logging and clear-cutting during the California and Nevada Gold/Silver rushes, and most recently, urbanization and tourism over the past 40 years. Unfortunately, introductions of invasive aquatic weeds (and some non-native warm water fish) followed the rapid development of the Tahoe Basin, probably beginning in the late 1960’s with the construction of the Tahoe Keys Marina along the south shore. Dr. Lars Anderson, a plant physiologist with the EIWR in Davis began research on, and delineation of, Eurasian watermilfoil infestations in 1995 and over the subsequent 10 years conducted six whole-lake surveys.

In 2008, Dr. Anderson will continue his work at Lake Tahoe as part of a multi-disciplinary project at the Tahoe Keys aimed at reducing impacts of Eurasian watermilfoil and reducing habitat for non-native warm water fish that interfere with native fish populations. He will serve as ARS representative on the newly formed Lake Tahoe Aquatic Invasive Species Coordinating Committee.


Keywords: * ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY/INVASIVE SPECIES * invasive alien weed * plant physiology *

Contact: Lars Anderson

Organizational Unit: EIW Exotic and Invasive Weeds

Record ID # 75      Mon, 28 Jan 2008 10:0:0 PDT        TOP
FOOD AND CROP IMPROVEMENT FOR PRODUCTION/PROTECTION      
TOP
Antioxidants control genes that suppress aflatoxin biosynthesis
illuminationPhoto by Jack Dykinga. Plant Mycotoxin Research scientists, in collaboration with ARS scientists from New Orleans and the J. Craig Venter Institute, have found a group of genes, peroxiredoxins, that can shut down aflatoxin biosynthesis. Previously, PMR scientists discovered that certain natural antioxidants, such as gallic acid, could prevent aflatoxin biosynthesis (Mahoney and Molyneux 2004). Using a recently available genetic tool called microarray analysis, the collaborating team of scientists were able to show that antioxidants turned on this group of genes. Peroxiredoxins remove signals that trigger aflatoxin biosynthesis. This discovery allows development of strategies to regulate these genes so that aflatoxin is not produced when the fungus infects certain agricultural products, such as peanuts, corn, cotton and tree nuts.

More information

Keywords: * FOOD AND CROP IMPROVEMENT FOR PRODUCTION/PROTECTION * toxin * microbiology *

Contact: Bruce Campbell, Russell Molyneux, Kathleen - Kathy Chan, Jong Heon Kim, Noreen Mahoney

Organizational Unit: PMR Plant Mycotoxin Research

Record ID # 67      Mon, 28 Jan 2008 10:0:0 PDT        TOP
Flour quality and allergenicity in wheat
illuminationRooftop Greenhouse at Western Regional Research Center. Researchers at the ARS in the Crop Improvement Utilization Research Unit are working on a project which investigates how high temperatures during wheat grain development influence flour quality and allergenicity. Using tools of molecular biology, protein chemistry and proteomics, the project goals are to determine the basis for changes in flour protein composition and quality that result from exposure to high temperatures during wheat grain development. The project will also identify and characterize wheat proteins responsible for human sensitivities and allergies and develop methods to detect allergenic proteins in downstream products.

More information

Keywords: * FOOD AND CROP IMPROVEMENT FOR PRODUCTION/PROTECTION * wheat * grain * proteomics * molecular biology * chemistry *

Contact: Maureen Whalen, William Hurkman, Frances Dupont, William Vensel, Donald Kasarda, Susan Altenbach

Organizational Unit: CIU Crop Improvement Utilization

Record ID # 74      Mon, 28 Jan 2008 10:0:0 PDT        TOP
Natural chemicals found that enhance antifungal activity of commercial fungicides
illuminationPhoto by Scott Bauer. Plant Mycotoxin Research scientists have discovered a number of natural phenolic compounds that improve the antifungal activity of commercial fungicides. These phenolics act as chemosensitizing agents that disrupt the fungal cell in response to stress. Such chemosensitizing enhancement has been found to be effective against pre- and post-harvest fungal pathogens of fruits, such as apples and oranges.

More information

Keywords: * FOOD AND CROP IMPROVEMENT FOR PRODUCTION/PROTECTION * toxin * microbiology * biological control *

Contact: Bruce Campbell, Russell Molyneux, Kathleen - Kathy Chan, Jong Heon Kim, Noreen Mahoney

Organizational Unit: PMR Plant Mycotoxin Research

Record ID # 71      Mon, 28 Jan 2008 10:0:0 PDT        TOP
Navel orangeworm activity can promote aflatoxin contamination of almonds
illuminationAspergillus spores on the legs of the navel orangeworm larva. Photo courtesy Jeffrey Palumbo. Scientists in the Plant Mycotoxin Research Unit (PMR) at WRRC are seeking to develop a new approach to controlling navel orangeworm (NOW) on tree nuts. These scientists discovered that NOW can carry the spores of fungi that create aflatoxin. NOW feeding damage and aflatoxin contamination are major problems for the tree nut industries in California. When the NOW feed on the nuts, spores of these fungi have an easier time infecting the nut kernels. PMR scientists are currently trying to identify plant odors that female moths of NOW use to find tree nuts. The PMR scientists anticipate that once these odors are discovered, they can be used to attract and trap the moths. Alternatively, these attractants could be incorporated into a pesticide. In this manner, only the NOW moths would be attracted to places where the pesticide is placed and avoid the potential for harming non-pestiferous species of insects. Funding for the pilot study on NOW was provided by the Almond Board of California.

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Keywords: * FOOD AND CROP IMPROVEMENT FOR PRODUCTION/PROTECTION * nuts * toxin * entymology *

Contact: Bruce Campbell, Jeffrey Palumbo, Douglas Light

Organizational Unit: PMR Plant Mycotoxin Research

Record ID # 73      Mon, 28 Jan 2008 10:0:0 PDT        TOP
Research partners sought for developing the new bioenergy crop, switchgrass
illuminationSwitchgrass, Panicum virgatum. Photo by John Berdahl. Genomics researchers are heavily engaged in switchgrass research, working hard to develop this new energy crop. While WRRC already has commercial collaborations related to switchgrass, there may be the opportunity for more. Please contact us if your company or organization is interested in possibly forming a research partnership in respect to developing new / better forms of switchgrass. Contacts: John Vogel, Christian Tobias.

Keywords: * FOOD AND CROP IMPROVEMENT FOR PRODUCTION/PROTECTION * switch grass * energy * agricultural engineering *

Contact: John Vogel, Christian Tobias

Organizational Unit: GGD Genomics and Gene Discovery

Record ID # 83      Mon, 28 Jan 2008 10:0:0 PDT        TOP
WRRC’s Genomics and Gene Discovery Research Unit continues its work on sequencing Brachypodium
illumination WRRC researchers are collaborating with other university and federal laboratory scientists who are working to “map” the entire genome of a model grass, in this case Brachypodium. Once the entire genome of Brachypodium is known, researchers will be able to apply various tools and techniques to the model, which will hopefully lead to the more rapid development of new cultivars, as well as the improvement of existing cultivars.

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Keywords: * FOOD AND CROP IMPROVEMENT FOR PRODUCTION/PROTECTION * grass * energy * genome sequence *

Contact: Olin Anderson

Organizational Unit: GGD Genomics and Gene Discovery

Record ID # 82      Mon, 28 Jan 2008 10:0:0 PDT        TOP
FOOD PROCESSING AND SAFETY      
TOP
Factors from dairy wastewater lagoons influence the survival of E. coli
illuminationPhotomicrograph of an uncharacterized protozoan from manure wastewater (purple) that has consumed GFP-labeled E. coli O157:H7 (green). Courtesy of Chester Sarreal. Every year millions of Americans are affected by foodborne illnesses such as E. coli O157:H7. Our scientists observed survival of E. coli O157:H7 is inhibited by native microorganisms and certain organic extracts of dairy wastewater. Follow-up studies should help identify specific organisms and naturally-occurring chemicals that may be added to waste and wastewater to reduce pathogens. This work has been submitted for publication.

Keywords: * FOOD PROCESSING AND SAFETY * dairy * pathogens * animal pathology *

Contact: John Mark Carter, Subbarao Ravva

Organizational Unit: FCR Foodborne Contaminants

Record ID # 72      Mon, 28 Jan 2008 10:0:0 PDT        TOP
First complete genome sequence and analysis of A. butzleri
illuminationGenome BLAST atlas of A. butzleri RM4018. William Miller, a molecular biologist in the Produce Safety and Microbiology Research Unit at WRRC, and collaborators in the US, Europe and Australia, published in the online open access journal, PLoS One, the first complete genome sequence and analysis of the Epsilonproteobacterium Arcobacter butzleri. The analyses indicated that a large portion of the genome of A. butzleri, a member of the Campylobacteraceae, is devoted to growth and survival under diverse environmental conditions, and is a free-living, water-borne organism that might be classified rightfully as an emerging pathogen. The genome sequence and analyses will assist in understanding how this organism may be a bridge between the environment and mammalian hosts.

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Keywords: * FOOD PROCESSING AND SAFETY * pathogens * environment * microbiology * genome sequence *

Contact: William Miller

Organizational Unit: PSM Produce Safety and Microbiology

Record ID # 68      Mon, 28 Jan 2008 10:0:0 PDT        TOP
Identification of a novel prion conformer
illuminationHypothetical prion protein (PrP) structure. Graphic: (Kurt Wuthrich) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 97, 145 (2000). Prion diseases such as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) are caused by a poorly understood process of misfolding protein in the brain. Protein Misfolding Cyclic Amplification is a means of reproducing this protein misfolding in a test tube, instead of an animal. Our scientists used this method to characterize a novel conformation involved in the prion misfolding process. This observation is influencing the technology and understanding of in vitro prion conversion in other labs. The work is currently in press in Protein & Peptide Letters: “Sonication Induced Intermediate in Prion Protein Conversion,” Audrius A. Zukas, Cathrin E. Bruederle, and John M. Carter.

Keywords: * FOOD PROCESSING AND SAFETY * beef * pathogens * proteomics * animal pathology *

Contact: Cathrin Bruederle, John Mark Carter

Organizational Unit: FCR Foodborne Contaminants

Record ID # 78      Mon, 28 Jan 2008 10:0:0 PDT        TOP
Study on E.coli O157:H7 and feral swine
illuminationFeral pig. Photo courtesy G. Wiscomb, USDA Wildlife Services (APHIS). Researchers in the Produce Safety and Microbiology Research Unit at WRRC and their collaborators recently published a study in Emerging Infectious Disease entitled “Escherichia coli O157:H7 in Feral Swine Near Spinach Fields and Cattle, Central California Coast.” The study investigated involvement of feral swine in contamination of agricultural fields and surface waterways with Escherichia coli O157:H7 after a nationwide outbreak was traced to bagged spinach from California. Isolates from feral swine, cattle, surface water, sediment, and soil at one ranch were matched to the outbreak strain.

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Keywords: * FOOD PROCESSING AND SAFETY * leafy vegetables * pathogens * microbiology *

Contact: Michael Cooley, Robert Mandrell

Organizational Unit: PSM Produce Safety and Microbiology

Record ID # 70      Mon, 28 Jan 2008 10:0:0 PDT        TOP
Study on E.coli O157:H7 in a major produce production region in California
illuminationRelatedness of strains of E. coli O157:H7 isolated and fingerprinted in this study. Researchers in the Produce Safety and Microbiology Research Unit at WRRC and their collaborators recently published a study in PLoS ONE entitled “Incidence and tracking of Escherichia coli O157:H7 in a major produce production region in California.” The study was stimulated by suspected pre-harvest contamination of leafy vegetables grown in this region and associated with multiple outbreaks of E. coli O157:H7.

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Keywords: * FOOD PROCESSING AND SAFETY * leafy vegetables * pathogens * microbiology *

Contact: Michael Cooley, Robert Mandrell

Organizational Unit: PSM Produce Safety and Microbiology

Record ID # 69      Mon, 28 Jan 2008 10:0:0 PDT        TOP
HEALTHY FOODS      
TOP
Commercial partners sought to further develop legume snacks
illuminationCrisp, crunchy, protein-rich snacks made using a process from ARS and Washington State University scientists. Photo-James Pan. WRRC researcher Jose Berrios and his colleagues at Washington State University have been involved in developing nutritious, great-tasting legume snacks which are rich in protein and dietary fiber. They are applying to patent this technology, and are looking for commercial partners.

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Keywords: * HEALTHY FOODS * beans * food science * food engineering *

Contact: Jose Berrios

Organizational Unit: PFR Processed Foods Research

Record ID # 64      Mon, 28 Jan 2008 10:0:0 PDT        TOP
New treats developed from ARS technology
illuminationARS scientists in California invented the patented process used in making FruitFast's MixedBerry bars. Photo courtesy of FruitFast. Flavorful berries and bits of rich dark chocolate star in the latest entries in an expanding line of all-natural fruit bars made using technology from Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists.
FruitFast of Eastport, Mich., holds a license from ARS for the process used to create the bars, which are on sale at health food and specialty grocery stores in the Midwest, and on the Web at www.FruitFast.com/.

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Keywords: * HEALTHY FOODS * fruits * food science * food engineering *

Contact: Tara McHugh, David Nicholson

Organizational Unit: PFR Processed Foods Research

Record ID # 66      Mon, 28 Jan 2008 10:0:0 PDT        TOP


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WRRC Update July 28, 2008
WRRC UPDATE
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Update from the Western Regional Research Center

Pacific West Area / Agricultural Research Service / United States Department of Agriculture


Monday, July 28, 2008   

Rev. (Monday, July 28, 2008   10:13:20 AM)

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Table of Contents

THE CENTER      
TOP
Open innovation among discussion topics at WRRC research partnership meeting
photo of Jack KingJack King, California Farm Bureau Federation Photo courtesy Tina Williams Food and agricultural organizations and companies in the West participated in WRRC’s third annual Research Partnership meeting on March 5, 2008 in Albany, California. The meeting provides an opportunity for the Center’s customers and stakeholders to Learn about the Center’s current program, meet its world-class researchers, and discuss their organization’s research and business challenges and how the Center can help. Three stakeholders presented how their organizations value technology and how ARS could help fulfill their research requirements. The presenters were Malcolm DeLeo, The Clorox Company; Leon Frenken, Unilever/Physic Ventures; and Tom Sidebottom, U.S. Food & Drug Administration. Jack King, California Farm Bureau Federation, provided the lunchtime keynote address on trends and new political realities impacting agriculture. The full proceedings are available in PDF format.

Keywords: * THE CENTER *

Contact: James N. Seiber

Organizational Unit: WRRC

Record ID # 99      Mon, 28 Jul 2008 10:0:0 PDT         TOP
PARTNERING OPPORTUNITIES      
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Licensing opportunity: for antibody used to detect contaminants in food
David Brandon and Larry StankerDrs. David Brandon (front) and Larry Stanker evaluating immunoassay results (ARS photo) Food testing requires ongoing method development to meet emerging challenges in safety, security, and regulation. Foodborne Contaminants Research Unit Biologist Larry Stanker and Chemist David Brandon are providing antibodies and assay development expertise to the Neogen Corporation (Lansing, MI) for evaluation of immunoassays to detect contaminants in food. Current Material Transfer Agreements provide reagents for detection of antibiotic residues, aflatoxins, and soybean trypsin inhibitor. These antibodies, and others developed by ARS, are available for commercial licensing in food safety testing.

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Keywords: * PARTNERING OPPORTUNITIES * pathogens * toxin * animal pathology *

Contact: Larry Stanker, David Brandon

Organizational Unit: FCR Foodborne Contaminants

Record ID # 91      Mon, 28 Jul 2008 10:0:0 PDT         TOP
Novel chemosensitization discoveries invite research partnerships
Focus on Fungus Conference Logo"Focus on Fungus" conference poster Plant Mycotoxin Research scientists have shown that natural compounds can act as chemosensitizers for drug-resistant strains of pathogenic fungi. The findings were presented at Focus on Fungal Infections 18, an international conference on treatment of human pathogenic fungal diseases, in San Antonio, TX, Mar 5-7, 2008. The poster, "Overcoming antifungal drug resistance using chemosensitization: Targeting stress response pathways of fungi with benzo analogs", won the Thomas J. Walsh Clinical Mycology Award for the most innovative and outstanding achievement in the field of research on infectious fungal diseases at the conference. This marks the first time that non-medical researchers were recognized.
PMR is seeking potential research collaborators and commercial partners (agricultural or medical) on use of chemosensitization to improve efficacy of antifungal agents. Please contact our technology transfer office for details.

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Keywords: * PARTNERING OPPORTUNITIES * pathogens * antifungal * drug resistance *

Contact: David Nicholson, Bruce Campbell, Kristin Kimball

Organizational Unit: PMR Plant Mycotoxin Research

Record ID # 90      Mon, 28 Jul 2008 10:0:0 PDT         TOP
BIOFUELS      
TOP
Bioenergy partnership to include expansion of gene library
JBEI logo Scientists in the Bioproduct Chemistry and Engineering Research Unit are partnering with the Department of Energy Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) to perform complementary research on biofuels. The DOE JBEI organization features four interdependent science and technology divisions: 1. Feedstocks, aimed at improving plants that serve as the raw materials for ethanol and the next generation of biofuels; 2. Deconstruction, aimed at investigating the molecular mechanisms behind the breakdown of lignocellulose into fermentable sugars; 3. Fuels Synthesis, in which microbes that can efficiently convert sugar into biofuels will be engineered; and 4. Cross-cutting Technologies, which will be dedicated to the development and optimization of enabling technologies that support and integrate the DOE JBEI research. WRRC will focus on Deconstruction, with an emphasis on expanding the gene library through metagenomic approaches, in this new partnership.

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Keywords: * BIOFUELS * cellulose * energy * ethanol * chemical engineering *

Contact: William J. Orts

Organizational Unit: BCE Bioproduct Chemistry and Engineering

Record ID # 100      Mon, 28 Jul 2008 10:0:0 PDT         TOP
Enhanced switchgrass topic of SBIR grant
switchgrass photoSwitchgrass. ARS photo (image D854-1) Edenspace Systems Corporation was recently awarded a two-year, Phase II Small Business Innovation Research grant from the USDA. This grant supports continued development of enhanced switchgrass varieties with traits that reduce the cost of producing ethanol and other biofuels from plant leaves and stems. Edenspace has been working with WRRC since 2005 under a Cooperative Research & Development Agreement (CRADA). This work expands molecular breeding approaches to develop switchgrass varieties with improved biomass qualities for biofuel production, and explores genes, traits and mechanisms that are potentially useful for renewable energy production.

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Keywords: * BIOFUELS * switch grass * cellulose * energy * ethanol * agricultural engineering * enzymology *

Contact: John Vogel

Organizational Unit: GGD Genomics and Gene Discovery

Record ID # 94      Mon, 28 Jul 2008 10:0:0 PDT         TOP
ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY/INVASIVE SPECIES      
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Exotic insect moves closer to release to control problematic invasive weed
Yellow starthistle rosette weevilYellow starthistle rosette weevil, Ceratapion basicorne Photo courtesy Lincoln Smith Due largely to the work of ARS scientist Dr. Lincoln Smith, a critical milestone was achieved by the ARS Exotic & Invasive Weeds program. On May 22, 2008, the US Fish and Wildlife Service issued a letter of concurrence to USDA-APHIS regarding their determination that the release of the yellow starthistle rosette weevil, Ceratapion basicorne, is not likely to adversely affect any threatened or endangered species of thistles (Cirsium species) in the US. Such concurrence is usually the most difficult step in the long process of obtaining regulatory approval to release an exotic insect. Dr. Smith was instrumental in this determination, by petitioning the USDA-APHIS Technical Advisory Group (TAG) and submitting an official request for a release permit. Yellow starthistle is one of the most important invasive alien weeds in the western United States, infesting about 20 million acres of rangeland. Future release of the rosette weevil should help achieve permanent reduction of the weed over large areas without harming the environment.

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Keywords: * ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY/INVASIVE SPECIES * biological control * entomology *

Contact: Lincoln Smith

Organizational Unit: EIW Exotic and Invasive Weeds

Record ID # 87      Mon, 28 Jul 2008 10:0:0 PDT         TOP
WRRC joint battle against Light Brown Apple Moth (LBAM)
Light brown apple mothLight brown apple moth adults. Photo used with kind permission of HortNET, a product of The Horticulture and Food Research Institute of New Zealand Limited WRRC has been assisting the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) and USDA's Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) in their efforts to monitor and combat the spread of the Light Brown Apple Moth (LBAM) in California. LBAM has been detected in coastal counties (Monterey, Santa Clara, others) and it is feared will spread to inland counties which are home to the multibillion dollar fruit and nut production areas that are most susceptible to damage by a wider LBAM infestation. APHIS and CDFA currently monitor the spread using pheromone-based traps, and use pheromone-based confusion techniques along with insecticide treatments to reduce populations. Aerial spraying in urban areas is controversial, so that alternatives are being sought. According to A.G. Kawamura, Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, "We are fast-tracking an approach known as the Sterile Insect Technique (SIT), in which large quantities of sterilized, infertile insects are released do that the wild population cannot reproduce." To support these efforts, APHIS and ARS researchers at WRRC are exploring the mass rearing of LBAM preparatory to sterile insect release as a population control method. Aspects of the rearing and sterilization research involve scientists in the WRRC Plant Mycotoxin Research Unit. Currently Ron Haff and Eric Jackson of WRRC are exploring sterilization methods that do not rely on a radioactive source for irradiation. Once the 'bugs' are worked out in the large scale rearing and sterilization technology, sterile insects will be released by APHIS and CDFA to compete with fertile insects and thus aid in eradicating this invader from California.

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Keywords: * ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY/INVASIVE SPECIES * fruits * nuts * insect control * pest management * entomology *

Contact: Ronald Haff, Eric Jackson

Organizational Unit: PMR Plant Mycotoxin Research

Record ID # 109      Mon, 28 Jul 2008 10:0:0 PDT         TOP
WRRC partners with French agriculture department and NASA Ames to develop computer models to manage invasive species
Dr. Olivier BonatoDr. Olivier Bonato Dr. Olivier Bonato from the French agricultural research institution, INRA, is currently visiting the USDA-ARS Western Regional Research Center to join research efforts with scientists from the ARS Exotic and Invasive Weeds Research Unit and NASA Ames. This research team is cooperatively developing new biological computer models to help manage invasive species using the latest available technologies. Using parallel processing computers, microclimatic data is collected from the Naval Post Graduate School in Monterey, CA and applied in fine detail across large watersheds. When fully operational, these models will be run using the NASA Columbia Supercomputer to help farmers, ranchers and other land managers better control weed and insect pests over large areas.

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Keywords: * ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY/INVASIVE SPECIES * invasive alien weed * biological control * entomology *

Contact: Raymond Carruthers

Organizational Unit: EIW Exotic and Invasive Weeds

Record ID # 86      Mon, 28 Jul 2008 10:0:0 PDT         TOP
WRRC Scientist, Mark Weltz, recognized for substantially contributing to the award of the Nobel Peace Prize for 2007
Dr. Mark WeltzDr. Mark Weltz Mark Weltz, of the WRRC Exotic and Invasive Weeds Research Unit in Reno, Nevada, was recently presented with an award-certificate acknowledging his contribution to the award of the Nobel Peace Prize for 2007 to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC). The 2007 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded jointly to IPPC and Al Gore for “their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change.” Specifically, Dr. Weltz’ contribution related to his expertise on deserts and rangelands. He served as a technical reviewer, co-author and lead author for several IPPC reports on climate change. According to the Norwegian Nobel Committee, “…through the scientific reports it has issued over the past two decades, the IPCC has created an ever-broader informed consensus about the connection between human activities and global warming.”

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Keywords: * ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY/INVASIVE SPECIES * environment *

Contact: Mark Weltz

Organizational Unit: EIW Exotic and Invasive Weeds

Record ID # 85      Mon, 28 Jul 2008 10:0:0 PDT         TOP
FOOD AND CROP IMPROVEMENT FOR PRODUCTION/PROTECTION      
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Genetically engineered wheat generates renewed interest
wheat photoARS photo (image K1441-5) ARS wheat geneticist Ann Blechl, of the Crop Improvement and Utilization Research Unit, attended an April 2008 meeting in Kansas City to discuss possible paths and obstacles to the release of genetically engineered (GE) wheat into commercial production. The April meeting brought together representatives of the wheat milling, baking, and export industries with representatives of wheat producers, seed and biotechnology companies to consider issues that so far have discouraged the release of GE wheat into commerce anywhere in the world. The closest to release had been glyphosate-resistant wheat developed by Monsanto Corporation, which withdrew its petitions to APHIS and FDA for commercialization in the spring of 2004 due to opposition from U.S. trading partners. In the intervening years, there has been increasing economic pressure on U.S. producers to switch from wheat to GE corn and soybeans, where possible, because of their higher yields. Both the National Association of Wheat Growers and U.S. Wheat Associates have issued statements in support of biotechnology as a way to increase wheat productivity (see http://www.wheatworld.org/html/info.cfm?ID=21). At the meeting, Dr. Blechl provided a description of improvements in wheat transformation technology that her lab is implementing to address some of the public’s concerns about GE wheat.

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Keywords: * FOOD AND CROP IMPROVEMENT FOR PRODUCTION/PROTECTION * wheat * grain * biotechnology * molecular biology *

Contact: Ann Blechl

Organizational Unit: CIU Crop Improvement Utilization

Record ID # 88      Mon, 28 Jul 2008 10:0:0 PDT         TOP
FOOD PROCESSING AND SAFETY      
TOP
A new method to concentrate and detect norovirus from food samples
Electron microscopy image of norovirus particles.Electron microscopy image of norovirus particles. Noroviruses cause some of the world's foremost foodborne disease episodes, notably on cruise ships in recent years. Dr. Peng Tian in the Produce Safety and Microbiology unit at WRRC has developed a way to concentrate noroviruses from complex food samples. Dr. Tian discovered that gastric mucus in pigs contains blood antigens that serve as an effective binder for human noroviruses. The blood antigens help bind the norovirus to special beads that can be concentrated at least 100-fold when exposed to magnets. These improvements of concentrating norovirus will lead to improved detection of the virus, which sickens thousands of people each year. Dr. Tian has been invited to present his work at the XIV International Congress of Virology (10-15 August 2008, Istanbul, Turkey). The results will be published in the upcoming July issue of Applied and Environmental Microbiology.

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Keywords: * FOOD PROCESSING AND SAFETY * oyster * pathogens * norovirus * microbiology *

Contact: Peng Tian, Robert Mandrell

Organizational Unit: PSM Produce Safety and Microbiology

Record ID # 108      Mon, 28 Jul 2008 10:0:0 PDT         TOP
Combating microbial pathogens in foods with apple and tomato films
E. coli Inhibitory zone on bacterial plate with E. coli O157:H7 induced by a carvacrol containing apple film. Researchers in the Produce Safety and Microbiology and Processed Foods research units at WRRC are collaborating on the development of edible films made from tomato and apple byproducts which have added volatile terpenoids and phenolic compounds. When foodborne pathogens come into direct contact with these compounds or are exposed to their vapor in bags, the pathogens become inactivated. The antimicrobial films will have the added benefit of extending shelf life. Preliminary collaborative studies with the edible apple-based antimicrobial films resulted in multi-log decreases of Salmonella enterica bacteria on surfaces of commercial raw poultry meat and inhibition of E. coli O157:H7 in in vitro studies. These preliminary results suggest possible commercial uses for films for numerous food products requiring any type of packaging.



Keywords: * FOOD PROCESSING AND SAFETY * tomatoes * apples * pathogens * food engineering * food science *

Contact: Mendel Friedman, Tara McHugh

Organizational Unit: PSM Produce Safety and Microbiology

Record ID # 104      Mon, 28 Jul 2008 10:0:0 PDT         TOP
E.coli in leaves of Romaine lettuce
E. coli on Romaine lettuceConfocal micrograph cells of E. coli O157:H7 (green fluorescent objects) on middle leaves of Romaine lettuce plants. Scale bar = 20 µm. Maria Brandl, research microbiologist in the Produce Safety and Microbiology Research Unit, and her collaborator at the University of California, Berkeley, recently published a study in the journal of Applied and Environmental Microbiology about the effect of leaf age on the contamination of Romaine lettuce with the human pathogens Salmonella enterica and E. coli O157:H7. The pathogens multiplied faster and to higher numbers on the young inner leaves of lettuce plants than on the older middle leaves. Their study revealed that the amount of nitrogen available to the bacteria limited their growth on middle leaves. These results provide important information for risk assessment analysis of microbial contamination of lettuce and for developing sampling strategies used by the industry and public health agencies to evaluate the microbial safety of lettuce.


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Keywords: * FOOD PROCESSING AND SAFETY * leafy vegetables * pathogens * microbiology *

Contact: Maria Brandl

Organizational Unit: PSM Produce Safety and Microbiology

Record ID # 107      Mon, 28 Jul 2008 10:0:0 PDT         TOP
High-sensitivity test for botulinum neurotoxin
microbead capturing neurotoxin illustrationA microbead (green) that has captured botulinum neurotoxin (red), which is cutting the target peptide (blue) to generate a fluorescent signal (yellow). Diagram not to scale. Diagram: JM Carter One method of detecting the botulinum neurotoxin relies on its ability to enzymatically cleave a very specific target peptide, to generate highly fluorescent fragments. Foodborne Contaminants Research Unit (FCR) Chemist Reuven Rasooly improved this assay, and made it practical for food analysis gaining extra sensitivity by using magnetic microbeads coated with the antibodies developed by FCR Research Biologist Larry Stanker. This step concentrates active toxin and overcomes interference by the food sample. Rasooly demonstrated dose-dependent detection of toxin in milk and juice, with sensitivity equal to the “gold standard” toxicology rodent bioassay, which requires live mice. This work is currently in press in the International Journal of Food Microbiology.


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Keywords: * FOOD PROCESSING AND SAFETY * dairy * fruits * vegetables * pathogens * toxin * animal pathology *

Contact: Reuven Rasooly, Larry Stanker

Organizational Unit: FCR Foodborne Contaminants

Record ID # 93      Mon, 28 Jul 2008 10:0:0 PDT         TOP
New genome approach to "campy" detection in foods
Genome comparison of Campylobacter jejuni Genome comparison of Campylobacter jejuni clinical strains from South Africa Researchers in the Produce Safety and Microbiology Research Unit at WRRC and their collaborator in South Africa recently published a study in PLoS ONE entitled “Comparative genomic analysis of clinical strains of Campylobacter jejuni from South Africa.” The present study performed a comparative genomic analysis of the foodborne pathogen C. jejuni. The genetic polymorphism of C. jejuni strands were isolated from South African patients with various diseases, including: enteritis, Guillain-Barre and Miller Fisher syndrome. In order to examine these diseases more closely, researchers used two different sequence-based typing methods: multilocus sequence typing and DNA microarrays. This comparative genomic analysis has allowed researchers to improve methods for analyzing the epidemiology of disease C. jejuni and the sources behind its outbreaks. This study has provided fundamental information that could potentially lead to a safer food supply for consumers.

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Keywords: * FOOD PROCESSING AND SAFETY * pathogens * microbiology * genomics *

Contact: Craig Parker, William Miller, Beatriz Quiñones

Organizational Unit: PSM Produce Safety and Microbiology

Record ID # 106      Mon, 28 Jul 2008 10:0:0 PDT         TOP
New high-affinity monoclonal antibodies to detect botulinum toxin
Lateral flow devicesLateral Flow Devices used to test for botulinum toxin work like a home pregnancy test. The top bar shows the test is working. If the second bar appears (right) the test is positive. Photo courtesy LH Stanker Botulinum neurotoxins, produced by common soil bacteria, are the most toxic materials known. Because of their potential use in a terrorist attack, Foodborne Contaminants Research Unit Research Biologist Larry Stanker developed new antibodies. He used the antibodies to create an ELISA test, which can detect toxins in milk with sensitivity equal to the “gold standard” rodent bioassay. This work was described in a recent publication in Journal of Immunological Methods and a US Patent Application (docket 12/138,415). Now, through a CRADA with Safeguard Biosystems (San Diego, CA), Stanker has used the new antibodies to develop a simple “dipstick” test that can detect the toxins in milk and other liquid foods with sub-nanogram sensitivity.

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Keywords: * FOOD PROCESSING AND SAFETY * dairy * pathogens * toxin * animal pathology *

Contact: Larry Stanker

Organizational Unit: FCR Foodborne Contaminants

Record ID # 92      Mon, 28 Jul 2008 10:0:0 PDT         TOP
Spice-derived chemicals inactivate antibiotic resistant Campylobacter jejuni strains
Plant derived compounds from oregano leaves and cinnamon sticksPlant derived compounds from oregano leaves (left) and cinnamon sticks (right) inactivate antibiotic resistant Campylobacter jejuni foodborne pathogens. In a collaborative study with scientists at the Department of Veterinary Science and Microbiology at the University of Arizona, Tucson, 63 Campylobacter jejuni isolates were screened for their resistance to the following widely used commercial antibiotics: ampicillin, cefaclor, ciprofloxacin, erythromycin, gentamycin, tetracycline, and trimethroprim/ sulfamethoxazole. Based on this screen, two resistant strains and one nonresistant strain were evaluated for their susceptibility to inactivation by cinnamaldehyde and carvacrol, the main constituents of plant-derived cinnamon and oregano oils, respectively. The extent of observed inhibition of microbial growth was related to both concentration of antimicrobials and incubation time. The antimicrobial efficacy of cinnamaldehyde was greater than that of carvacrol. Our findings suggest that plant-derived compounds can inactivate at about the same rate both antibiotic-resistant and nonresistant strains of foodborne pathogenic Campylobacter bacteria. These studies provide candidates for incorporation into formulations that can protect food and consumers against antibiotic resistant C. jejuni.

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Keywords: * FOOD PROCESSING AND SAFETY * pathogens * non-toxic antimicrobials * Campylobacter * antibiotic resistance * microbiology *

Contact: Mendel Friedman

Organizational Unit: PSM Produce Safety and Microbiology

Record ID # 105      Mon, 28 Jul 2008 10:0:0 PDT         TOP
USDA-MOST partnerships continues to develop
illumination ARS and The People's Republic of China's Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) continued its exchange activities over the past year. A delegation from MOST, China, visited WRRC in November, 2007, where several major initiatives to promote continued collaboration of the Agricultural Products and Processing Virtual Center (APPVC) were discussed. As part of this continued partnership, USDA-ARS Office of International Programs funded a $10,000 international collaborative project led by Drs. Zhongli Pan and Tara McHugh to develop new infrared dry-pasteurization technology for improved processing efficiency, product quality and safety of almonds. A visiting scientist from Northwest A&F University is part of this endeavor. In addition, Drs. Pan and McHugh have been hosting three other visiting scientists at WRRC from Northwestern A&F University and JiangSu University to do collaborative research. One such joint project has been funded by the California Rice Research Board to develop nutraceuticals from rice protein.

Keywords: * FOOD PROCESSING AND SAFETY * nuts * rice * food science *

Contact: Zhongli Pan, Tara McHugh

Organizational Unit: PFR Processed Foods Research

Record ID # 101      Mon, 28 Jul 2008 10:0:0 PDT         TOP
HEALTHY FOODS      
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Culinary arts expert to work with Processed Food Research Unit
photo of Klaus TenbergerKlaus Tenberger, USDA Hispanic Serving Institution Fellow USDA's Hispanic-Serving Institutions National Program (HSINP) announced that 22 faculty and administrators from Hispanic-Serving Institutions will work collaboratively this summer with USDA scientists and managers in Washington D.C. to learn more about research and management issues. The Fellows will collaborate with USDA on food security, leadership, biotechnology, and agribusiness. Klaus Tenbergen, a professor at California State University, Fresno in the Department of Food Science and Nutrition, was awarded a fellowship. He elected to work with Tara McHugh in the Processed Foods Research Unit, where he will be applying culinary arts to the Unit’s food processes and products. Klaus has a particular interest in culinary arts and business development of restaurants featuring healthy foods.

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Keywords: * HEALTHY FOODS * food science *

Contact: Tara McHugh

Organizational Unit: PFR Processed Foods Research

Record ID # 102      Mon, 28 Jul 2008 10:0:0 PDT         TOP
Fabulous Fortefiber gains fame
photo of Dr. Wallace YokoyamaDr. Wallace Yokoyama It is well-known than dietary fiber has important health benefits. Studies have found that diets high in fiber can help with weight loss, controlling diabetes, lowering cholesterol, and lowering risks of colon cancer. But despite its healthy reputation, consumers shy away from high fiber foods such as whole grain breads, vegetable skins, and bulk fiber supplements. Dow Wolff Celulosics (Dow) has developed a new food additive called Fortefiber, a water soluble material created from the microcrystalline cellulosic pulp of a tree. They hope that the new additive can be designed to target specific health issues and be added to everyday foods such as yogurts, desserts, breads, and snack foods.
Dow asked Dr. Wallace H. Yokoyama, Research Chemist in WRRC's Processed Foods Research Unit, for assistance. A few years back, Dr. Yokoyama discovered that soluble fiber helps keep blood sugar from spiking too high, a problem in diabetes. Dow collaborated with Dr. Yokoyama through a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) to conduct further research on Fortefiber. Their studies have found that Fortefiber can reduce high blood glucose levels. Although not yet on the market, Dow hopes to eventually blend Fortefiber into ready-to-eat foods or make it available in the form of supplement powder or pill.

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Keywords: * HEALTHY FOODS * cellulose * chemistry *

Contact: Wallace Yokoyama

Organizational Unit: PFR Processed Foods Research

Record ID # 110      Mon, 28 Jul 2008 10:0:0 PDT         TOP
Work of WRRC scientist, Andrew Breksa, featured on KPIX Channel 5 News
Eyewitness News 5 Logo Andrew Breksa of the Processed Foods Research Unit, was featured on KPIX Channel 5 News for his work with mandarin oranges. Dr. Breksa is currently finishing up a study at WRRC funded by the High Sierra Resource Conservation and Development Council (HSRC&D). Early results show mandarins have a significant amount of synephrine which is the main ingredient believed to fight allergy and cold symptoms. Plans are currently underway to continue this research.

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Keywords: * HEALTHY FOODS * citrus * chemistry *

Contact: Andrew Breksa

Organizational Unit: PFR Processed Foods Research

Record ID # 103      Mon, 28 Jul 2008 10:0:0 PDT         TOP
SPECIALTY CROPS      
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WRRC research on dieback disease of grapevines lauded
Eutypa dieback symptoms on grapevine Eutypa dieback symptoms on grapevine include stunted shoots and leaf development. See right side of foliage. The paper "Pathogenesis of Eutypa lata in Grapevine: Identification of Virulence Factors and Biochemical Characterization of Cordon Dieback" (P. E. Rolshausen, L. C. Greve, J. M. Labavitch, N. E. Mahoney, R. J. Molyneux, and W. D. Gubler; Phytopathology, vol. 98 (2), 222-229, 2008) was selected as the Editor's Pick for that issue of Phytopathology by Dr. Robert Gilbertson, Editor-in-Chief. Says Dr. Gilbertson: "New insight into the mechanism by which the vascular pathogen, Eutypa lata, infects and causes disease is revealed by examining the grapevine wood polymers degraded and enzymes and secondary metabolites produced by the fungus. The results revealed a possible mechanism of disease tolerance in grapevine, and raised important new questions about fungal colonization of woody hosts."

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Keywords: * SPECIALTY CROPS * grapes * pathogens * plant physiology *

Contact: Noreen Mahoney, Russell Molyneux

Organizational Unit: PMR Plant Mycotoxin Research

Record ID # 89      Mon, 28 Jul 2008 10:0:0 PDT         TOP


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WRRC Update March 26, 2009
WRRC UPDATE
WRRC logo
Update from the Western Regional Research Center

Pacific West Area / Agricultural Research Service / United States Department of Agriculture


Thursday, March 26, 2009   

Rev. (Thursday, March 26, 2009   1:41:40 PM)

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Table of Contents

THE CENTER      
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Center Director Bids Adieu
Photo of James N. SeiberDr. James N. Seiber, Center Director, retired. Dr. Jim Seiber, WRRC Director since 1998, announced his retirement from USDA-ARS, effective January 2009. Dr. Seiber initiated a number of joint activities with WRRC’s partners and stakeholders, including an annual meeting series started in 2004, this electronic Update, and a compilation of user friendly articles describing WRRC’s research and findings originating from Agricultural Research – USDA-ARS’s monthly research news magazine.
Dr. Seiber rejoined academic life at the University of California Davis as the Department Chair, Department of Food Science and Technology, and continues as Editor of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
Current WRRC Research Leaders will be serving 60 day temporary assignments as the Acting Center Director. The schedule for the temporary assignments is as follows:
Bruce Campbell: January 6, 2009 – March 8, 2009
Tara McHugh: March 9, 2009 – May 8, 2009
Maureen Whalen: May 9, 2009 – July 7, 2009
William Orts: July 8, 2009 – September 7, 2009
The announcement for the open WRRC Center Director position, as well as complete information on how to apply, can be accessed through www.usda.jobs.gov, job announcement number ARS: SES: 09-03 at the "more information" link below.


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Keywords: * THE CENTER *



Organizational Unit: WRRC

Record ID # 127      Thu, 26 Mar 2009 10:0:0 PDT        TOP
WRRC and Lawrence Livermore National Lab Initiate New Seminar Series
Graphic logo containing words Western Regional Research Center and a picture of the Golden Gate Bridge against a pattern background. Dr. James Seiber (retired), WRRC, Dr. Christian Tobias, WRRC and Bob Glass, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), established a new Seminar Exchange Series that began in December 2008. This series has acted as a catalyst toward sharing research and information and toward facilitating a stronger working relationship between the two Centers.
One of the Acting Center Directors, Dr. Bruce Campbell, is participating in the exchange program. He will be presenting a seminar at LLNL on June 4, 2009 regarding methods for controlling mycotoxin contamination of food commodities and proven methods for controlling fungal infections of plants and humans. A number of LLNL scientists have already presented seminars at WRRC. If you are interested in obtaining a schedule of the upcoming seminars, please contact Dr. Christian Tobias.

Keywords: * THE CENTER * mycotoxin *

Contact: Christian Tobias

Organizational Unit: GGD Genomics and Gene Discovery

Record ID # 120      Thu, 26 Mar 2009 10:0:0 PDT        TOP
WRRC's Fourth Spencer Award Recipient
Medal with Dr. Spencer's likeness.Photograph of the Kenneth Spencer Medal. Congratulations to WRRC’s Dr. Ron G. Buttery, the 2008 Kenneth Spencer Award Recipient. The Kenneth A. Spencer Award (formally the Charles F. Spencer Award) for outstanding achievement in agriculture and food chemistry is administered by the Kansas City section of the American Chemical Society. The award recognizes meritorious contributions to the field of agriculture and food chemistry. The Kansas City section presents this award in the hope that it will give added stimulus in research, education and industry to further progress in agriculture and food chemistry.
Past WRRC recipients of this honor are Dr. Arnold K. Balls, Dr. Mendel Friedman, and Dr. Russ Molyneux.

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Keywords: * THE CENTER *





Record ID # 129      Thu, 26 Mar 2009 10:0:0 PDT        TOP
Presidential Award to WRRC’s Pan
Photo of scientistZhongli Pan, Research Engineer, Processed Foods Research Unit, WRRC. Congratulations to WRRC’s Dr. Zhongli Pan in the Processed Foods Research Unit (PFR), on being selected for a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE). Dr. Pan was selected for this award based on the combination of innovative research at the frontiers of science and technology as well community service demonstrated through scientific leadership and community outreach. His research deals with novel food processing technologies using infrared microwave and other processing treatments to improve the quality and safety of foods.
The Presidential Award is the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on outstanding scientists and engineers beginning their independent careers. The White House, following recommendations from participating agencies, presents the award annually. Dr. Pan was honored at a ceremony and reception held at the White House on December 19, 2008. John H. Marburger III, Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, was the host.

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Keywords: * THE CENTER * nuts * bacteria * food engineering * food safety * food science * microbiology * pasteurization *

Contact: Zhongli Pan

Organizational Unit: PFR Processed Foods Research

Record ID # 111      Thu, 26 Mar 2009 10:0:0 PDT        TOP
ARS-Mexico Agriculture and Biotechnology Workshop
Photograph of participants in ARS-Mexico meeting. The 9th ARS-Mexico Agriculture and Biotechnology Workshop took place at the University of Nuevo Leon in Monterrey, Mexico during the week of February 23-27, 2009. This workshop takes place every two years and has been an ongoing collaboration between the Agricultural Research Service and the University of Nuevo Leon since 1988. This year’s topics included food safety and technology, biological control, biomaterials and bioproducts, marine remediation and biotechnology, and technology transfer. Several scientists from the Center participated in this year’s workshop, including Dr. Bruce Campbell, Dr. Bor-Sen Chiou, David Nicholson, and Dr. William Orts. Others from ARS also participated, including Dr. Mark Jackson from Peoria and Dr. Juan Morales from Mississippi. In addition, WRRC's Dr. Syed Imam helped to organize the workshop, which was also attended by Govind Nadathur and Baqar Zaidi from the University of Puerto Rico.

Keywords: * THE CENTER *

Contact: William J. Orts, Bruce Campbell, Bor-Sen Chiou, David Nicholson, Syed Imam

Organizational Unit: WRRC, PMR Plant Mycotoxin Research, BCE Bioproduct Chemistry and Engineering

Record ID # 128      Thu, 26 Mar 2009 10:0:0 PDT        TOP
PARTNERING OPPORTUNITIES      
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New Tool for Measuring VOC Emissions
Photo of sampling system in use in the field.Sampling system in use in the field. Plant Mycotoxin Research Unit (PMR) scientists have developed a small scale, in situ method to collect volatiles emitted from almonds. The volatiles are collected from almonds left intact and in their natural environment. Volatiles can be collected at any stage of development, and thus provide a snapshot of distinct emission patterns for that particular growth phase. The collection system is comprised of an inert bag with two ports for analysis and utilizes solid-phase microextraction as the adsorbent medium. Additionally, PMR scientists have recently developed a large-scale ambient volatile collection system. This system allows for the collection of ambient orchard volatiles, of any chosen commodity, to be collected in relatively large amounts such that the components can be isolated and used for subsequent bioassays.

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Keywords: * PARTNERING OPPORTUNITIES * nuts * almond * agricultural engineering *

Contact: John Beck

Organizational Unit: PMR Plant Mycotoxin Research

Record ID # 116      Thu, 26 Mar 2009 10:0:0 PDT        TOP
Styrene From Hulls: Industrially Important Hydrocarbon Captured as a Volatile from an Almond Hull Fungus
Microphoto of fungus showing stringlike filaments.Fusarium oxysporum as viewed microscopically Scientists from the Plant Mycotoxin Research Unit (PMR) at the WRRC have recently discovered a fungus that produces relatively large quantities of styrene – an industrially important chemical used in many plastics. While investigating the volatile emission of almond hulls and fungi from almond hulls, Research Chemists Dr. John J. Beck and Dr. Glory B. Merrill noted a sample of fungi growing on almond hulls was producing virtually a single compound. After analyzing the sample by gas chromatography/mass spectroscopy, the chemists realized something inside the collection chamber was producing styrene. Teaming up with fellow PMR microbiologist Dr. Jeffrey D. Palumbo and technician Teresa L. O’Keeffe, it was discovered that a strain of Fusarium oxysporum was the responsible organism.
The researchers have reported the results of their investigation in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. In their report, the authors demonstrated the ability to grow the fungus on a large scale and not only collect the volatile styrene, but also isolate it as the pure product. The PMR scientists will explore the possibilities this research presents, as a potential "green" source of a vital commercial chemical.

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Keywords: * PARTNERING OPPORTUNITIES * nuts * antifungal * food science * plant physiology *

Contact: John Beck, Glory Merrill

Organizational Unit: PMR Plant Mycotoxin Research

Record ID # 115      Thu, 26 Mar 2009 10:0:0 PDT        TOP
BIOFUELS      
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WRRC Collaborator and Biofuel Champion Steven Chu Selected as Department of Energy Secretary by President Obama
Graphic logo of the US Department of Energy Dr. Steven Chu, Nobel Laureate and former Director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), was announced in December 2008 as President Barack Obama’s choice to head the US Department of Energy. Chu and his colleagues led development of a successful grant proposal in which WRRC bioenergy researchers Dr. John Vogel, Dr. Christian Tobias, Dr. Rick Offeman, Dr. Charles Lee, and Plant Gene Expression Center Director, Dr. Sarah Hake, participated. This research involves Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) and/or Energy Bioscience Institute (EBI). The research of JBEI/EBI ranges from plant cell wall structure, to development of new membranes for separating bioethanol from water. Dr. Chu was an architect for procuring $500 million from British Petroleum to fund the LBNL-led EBI bioenergy research.

Keywords: * BIOFUELS * switch grass * corn * energy * hemicellulose * cellulose * straw * agricultural engineering * biotechnology * chemical engineering * chemistry * enzymology * genomics * molecular biology * bioenergy *



Organizational Unit: WRRC

Record ID # 121      Thu, 26 Mar 2009 10:0:0 PDT        TOP
CROP IMPROVEMENT FOR PRODUCTION/PROTECTION      
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Differentiating Seed Oils
Photo of lecturer described in cell below.Dr. Jiann-Tsyh (Ken) Lin, Research Chemist, Crop Improvement and Utilization Research Unit, WRRC Dr. Jiann-Tsyh (Ken) Lin, a Research Chemist in the Crop Improvement and Utilization Research Unit, has developed analytical methodology that can identify the individual molecular species that make up a seed oil. Oils derived from seeds such as soy or olive are composed of a mixture of triacylglycerols (TAG), glycerol with three fatty acid molecules attached as esters. The oil contains a collection of different TAG species, depending on the fatty acid composition and biochemical characteristics of the type of seed producing the oil. Dr. Lin uses high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) coupled with mass spectroscopy (MS) or, LC-MS, to generate a “fingerprint” unique to a given seed oil. Using this technology, he has identified unusual molecular species in castor oil, and he has also generated a fingerprint of extra virgin (EV) olive oil. In addition to research applications, this technique is applicable to detection of adulteration in premium oils such as EV olive oil. Since such oils sell at a high premium compared to commodity oils, the temptation to adulterate oils has a clear economic incentive. In some oil producing nations, as much as 40% of olive oil is adulterated with cheaper food quality oils. Detecting adulteration protects consumers from fraud. Moreover, it provides consumers with food safety assurances. In 1981, an incident in Spain resulted in the death of nearly 700 people who consumed oil adulterated to resemble olive oil. Dr. Lin’s technology is of potential use to Action Agencies such as FSIS and Customs as well as oil processors and importers.

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Keywords: * CROP IMPROVEMENT FOR PRODUCTION/PROTECTION * soybean * olive * castor * oils * agricultural engineering * food science * biochemistry * food safety *

Contact: Jiann Lin

Organizational Unit: CIU Crop Improvement Utilization

Record ID # 118      Thu, 26 Mar 2009 10:0:0 PDT        TOP
FOOD SAFETY      
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Ensuring a Safe Food Supply
Picture of about 15 castor beans. Foodborne Contaminants Research Unit (FCR) research biologist, Dr. Xiaohua He, has developed sensitive polymerase chain reaction tests (PCR) for detecting genetic material that is generally found in crude extracts of castor bean that are used for producing ricin. This test may be useful for quick screening for presence of ricin contamination. This work, part of a continuing effort to ensure the U.S. food supply stays safe and secure, is described in three peer-reviewed publications in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. It has also appeared in the Journal of Food Protection and has recently been featured in a podcast by the American Chemical Society.

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Keywords: * FOOD SAFETY * castor bean * pathogens * toxin * food safety *

Contact: Xiaohua He, David Brandon, John Mark Carter, Luisa Wai Wai Cheng, Thomas McKeon

Organizational Unit: FCR Foodborne Contaminants

Record ID # 124      Thu, 26 Mar 2009 10:0:0 PDT        TOP
New Method for TSE Sample Preparation
Picture of a dairy cow.Photo by Keith Weller, ARS Photo Foodborne Contaminants Research Unit (FCR) scientists have developed a new enzyme-free technique for developing a blood test for transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs). Most commercial tests for TSEs rely on a sample of animal brain and digestion with a powerful enzyme. This test would allow monitoring of live animals. This new testing application will allow for more efficient and thorough testing, ensuring continual safety of the U.S. beef supply.

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Keywords: * FOOD SAFETY * beef * cattle * pathogens * bacteria * animal pathology * food safety *

Contact: John Mark Carter

Organizational Unit: FCR Foodborne Contaminants

Record ID # 125      Thu, 26 Mar 2009 10:0:0 PDT        TOP
Plant Tissue Damage Leads to Increased Risk for E. coli Contamination in Lettuce
Photo of lettuce stem described in detail in cell below.Photograph of a cut stem of a mature romaine lettuce plant at harvest. Latex (white material) and nutrients released from the wounded tissue supported a 300-fold increase in the population of E. coli O157:H7 inoculated on the cut surface and incubated overnight at 28 degrees Celsius. Dr. Maria Brandl, research microbiologist in the Produce Safety and Microbiology Research Unit, published a study recently in the Journal of Applied and Environmental Microbiology on the role of plant tissue damage in the contamination of romaine lettuce with E. coli O157:H7. Four hours after inoculation, the population sizes of E. coli O157:H7 increased up to 11-fold on leaves that were bruised or shredded. Also, the population size of E. coli O157:H7 was 27 times greater on young leaves affected by infection with a common plant pathogen bacteria causing soft rot, compared to the population size on healthy middle-aged leaves.
The results of this study provide important information about factors that promote multiplication of E. coli O157:H7 on leafy vegetables. The results are important for risk analysis of microbial contamination of lettuce and for developing sampling strategies used by the industry and public health agencies to evaluate the microbial safety of lettuce.

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Keywords: * FOOD SAFETY * leafy vegetables * lettuce * pathogens * bacteria * microbiology *

Contact: Maria Brandl

Organizational Unit: PSM Produce Safety and Microbiology

Record ID # 126      Thu, 26 Mar 2009 10:0:0 PDT        TOP
Protective Peptide Hydrogel
Foodborne Contaminants Research Unit (FCR) Research Biologist Dr. Robert Hnasko has recently investigated a biocompatible hydrogel peptide that generates a very unusual response in a hamster transmissible spongiform encephalopath (TSE) model. TSEs include several serious diseases, including bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in cattle and Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD) in humans. TSEs remain poorly understood. When hydrogel is co-administered with a disease challenge, most subjects show a remarkable delay in the onset of disease symptoms and a significant increase in survival time. Continuing quests to understand TSEs and possible treatments encourage further development towards food safety and health. This work is the subject of a U.S. patent application, and was recently accepted for publication in the journal of PLoS.


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Keywords: * FOOD SAFETY *

Contact: Robert Hnasko

Organizational Unit: FCR Foodborne Contaminants

Record ID # 123      Thu, 26 Mar 2009 10:0:0 PDT        TOP
HEALTHY FOODS      
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Edible Films Go Commercial
Picture of scientist at bench as described below.Tara McHugh, research leader of the ARS Processed Foods Research Unit in Albany, California, examines colorful fruit- and vegetable-based edible films. Photo by Peggy Greb Dr. Tara McHugh, Research Leader for the Processed Foods Research Unit (PFR) for ARS in Albany, CA, attended the ribbon cutting ceremony for Origami Foods LLC new plant opening in Stockton, CA, on October 23, 2008 along with seven other ARS employees. The ceremony celebrated the successful CRADA partnership between Dr. McHugh’s team and Matthew DeBord, CEO of Origami Foods which resulted in transfer of the technology from the laboratory into commercial production. Origami Foods carrot ginger wraps can be found in Trader Joe’s stores across the country and will soon be sold in other grocery and restaurant chains.

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Keywords: * HEALTHY FOODS * fruits * vegetables * food engineering *

Contact: Tara McHugh

Organizational Unit: PFR Processed Foods Research

Record ID # 112      Thu, 26 Mar 2009 10:0:0 PDT        TOP
Obesity Prevention Study
Picture of scientist.Wallace Yokoyama, Research Chemist, Processed Foods Research Unit, WRRC Dr. Wallace Yokoyama, Research Chemist in the Processed Foods Research Unit (PFR) is currently conducting a study entitled "Processing and Biotechnological Improvement of Foods to Prevent Obesity-Related and Other Degenerative Diseases". This study is aimed to validate the clinical studies already completed through the collaboration between Dow Chemical Company and ARS regarding Satisfit, an emulsifier derived from plant-based cellulose which potentially can reduce weight gain.


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Keywords: * HEALTHY FOODS * fats * food science *

Contact: Wallace Yokoyama

Organizational Unit: PFR Processed Foods Research

Record ID # 114      Thu, 26 Mar 2009 10:0:0 PDT        TOP
Vitamin D-Enhanced Mushrooms
Picture of button mushrooms with knife on a cutting board.Photo by Stephen Ausmus (ARS) In December 2008, Dr. Tara McHugh, Research Leader of Processed Foods Research Unit (PFR) was interviewed by Dina Fine Maron from Science News, regarding her team's research on vitamin D-enhanced mushrooms.
The story chronicles how the ARS teamed with Monterey Mushrooms Inc. of Watsonville, CA., to boost the vitamin D content of white, brown, and portabella mushrooms. Thanks to UV-B light that mimics the sun’s UV-B rays, the company’s new Sun Bella line of fresh mushrooms offers at least 100% of the recommended intake of vitamin D in each 3-oz serving. An estimated 40% of Americans don’t get enough vitamin D. The nutrient is essential for strong bones, properly functioning liver and kidneys, and a robust immune system. Some research suggests that vitamin D may reduce risk of cardiovascular disease, certain cancers, and Alzheimer’s disease.

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Keywords: * HEALTHY FOODS * vegetables * mushroom *

Contact: Tara McHugh

Organizational Unit: PFR Processed Foods Research

Record ID # 113      Thu, 26 Mar 2009 10:0:0 PDT        TOP
SPECIALTY CROPS      
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Effective Codling Moth Attractant
Picture of two scientist with instrument described in cell below.In the laboratory, entomologists Alan Knight (left) and Doug Light set up a flight tunnel experiment to test which pear odors attract female codling moths. Photo by Scott Bauer, ARS Photo In November 2008, California Farmer featured the research of ARS entomologists Dr. Douglas Light and Dr. Alan Knight, who are working with a new and potent lure for the codling moth. This lure, simply termed the "pear ester", was discovered by WRRC’s Light and Trece, Inc.'s Clive Henrick. The codling moth is a major insect pest of pome fruits and walnuts. Drs. Light and Knight worked together conducting field tests in apple, pear and walnut orchards studying the effectiveness of pear ester. Currently used methods of monitoring and trapping the codling moth use the pheromone of the female moth. This pheromone only attracts male moths. The pear ester has the added benefit of attracting both sexes of the moth. This ability vastly improves it as a method of not only monitoring the moth population, but also in its use in combination with a pesticide to kill egg-laying female moths.

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Keywords: * SPECIALTY CROPS * fruits * insect control *

Contact: Douglas Light, Alan Knight

Organizational Unit: PMR Plant Mycotoxin Research

Record ID # 117      Thu, 26 Mar 2009 10:0:0 PDT        TOP


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Last Modified: 8/5/2013