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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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2003 Annual Performance Report
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1 - Introduction
2 - Table of Contents
3 - Goals 1 & 2
4 - Goal 3
5 - Goal 4
6 - Goal 5
7 - Goal 6
Goal 3

GOAL 3:  ENHANCE PROTECTION AND SAFETY OF THE NATION’S AGRICULTURE AND FOOD SUPPLY

 

Analysis of Results:  This is the focus of ARS’ research related to food safety and the security of the U.S. agricultural production system (crop and livestock protection).  Under Goal 3, 20 Indicators are aligned under 8 Performance Measures.  Because of the adoption of a new ARS Strategic Plan 2003-2007, the Performance Measures and Indicators have changed dramatically from those last reported in the FY 2002 Annual Performance Report and FY 2003 to 2005 Annual Performance Plan.  In addition, the agency made a policy decision to have fewer and broader Indicators then in past Plans and Reports.  As the National Programs become more internally coherent, the agency will report more accomplishments achieved by collaborative research at multiple locations involving more than one scientific discipline.  Thus, we anticipate reporting fewer accomplishments, but accomplishments that are broader in scope that make greater contributions to American agriculture.  While it is not possible to report research accomplishments numerically, the progress projected in all 20 Indicators was completed or substantially completed during FY 2003.  Seventy-one significant accomplishments are reported below.

 

OBJECTIVE 3.1:  Provide Science-Based Knowledge on the Safe Production, Storage, Processing, and Handling of Plant and Animal Products and on the Detection and Control of Toxin-Producing and/or Pathogenic Bacteria and Fungi Parasites, Mycotoxins, Chemical Residues, and Plant Toxins So As To Assist Regulatory Agencies and the Food Industry in Reducing the Incidence of Foodborne Illnesses.

 

Performance Measure 3.1.1:      Develop new on-farm preharvest systems, practices, and products to reduce pathogen and toxin contamination of animal- and plant-derived foods.

 

Indicators:

 

During FY 2003, ARS will

 

using new detection and quantitation methodologies, including genomic technologies, and through study of epidemiology, ecology and host pathogen relationships, intervention strategies, and antibiotic resistance in food producing animals, develop practices, products and information that will reduce preharvest pathogen and toxic residue contamination of animal derived food products.  Ensure that these technologies can be utilized by regulatory agencies and/or producers to help produce safe food products.

 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS scientists at Beltsville, Maryland, developed genetic-based detection and differentiation methods for Trichinella and Toxoplasma in pigs and evaluated methods for the inspection of pigs and horses for Trichinella at slaughter.

 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The methods that have been developed are critical to: (1) establishing and maintaining, in cooperation with the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), an export market inspection program for horses, (2) maintaining a certification program for these parasites in pork (modeled on the National Trichinae Certification Program), and (3) achieving an extremely low incidence of Trichinella and Toxoplasma parasites in swine, which has significantly increased consumer acceptance of pork products.

 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS scientists at Clay Center, Nebraska, generated monoclonal antibodies as accurate diagnostic reagents for the detection and characterization of shiga toxin producing E. coli (STEC) and Salmonella.  Other ARS scientists at Ames, Iowa, developed a rapid, sensitive, and specific fluorescent-based (TaqMan) polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test for detecting E. coli O157:H7 and other STEC in bovine feces and tissues.

 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Several of these antibodies have been formatted for diagnostic tests, including one currently sold by Meridian BioSciences, are widely used in the U.S. meat industry and in human clinical tests to identify the presence of STEC.  The PCR tests will provide the basis for rapid and specific detection of E. coli O157:H7 and related pathogens at various stages of pre- and postharvest operations.  Since these tests can be completed within 8 to 12 hours, potentially contaminated bovine food products can be identified before they are shipped to retailers and consumers.

 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS scientists at Clay Center, Nebraska, demonstrated that STEC O157 is endemic in U.S. cattle herds and occurs at high fecal prevalence rates in summer months.  The scientists also isolated STEC O157 from multiple pest fly species trapped on livestock farms and confirmed the clonality of livestock and pest fly bacterial isolates from a given farm, that is, they came from the same source.  They documented that high pest fly and livestock fecal prevalence of STEC O157, O111, and O26 and Salmonella at agricultural fairs are similar to that found in commercially reared livestock.  They also demonstrated that finished beef cattle have a high prevalence of STEC O157 in both their oral cavity and their hide.

 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  These findings demonstrate that because of the ubiquitous nature of STEC O157, eliminating exposure will be almost impossible.  They also establish the need for a live animal treatment to kill the pathogens prior to slaughter, and the need to target non-fecal sources as important for both within herd livestock transmission and in-plant carcass contamination.

 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Through the National Antibiotic Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS), which is located in the ARS facility at Athens, Georgia, scientists determined the antibiotic resistance of over 35,000 Salmonella isolates and lesser numbers of Campylobacter, Enterococcus, and E. coli.  Other ARS scientists at College Station, Texas, showed that ionophore antibiotics in cattle had no effect on foodborne pathogens or their antimicrobial susceptibility, and that certain antibiotic growth promoters do not select for particular species of Enterococcus (commensal bacteria) and do not alter normal bacterial populations in animals.

 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  As the only national program for surveillance of resistant bacteria in animals in the United States, NARMS provides critical information regarding the prevalence and distribution of anti-microbial resistant bacteria in support of the Public Health Action Plan to Combat Antimicrobial Resistance of HHS/CDC and FDA.  The NARMS information is also essential to both animal producers and developers of animal drugs to help assure continued drug availability.  The finding that certain growth promoting drugs for livestock production do not increase antibiotic resistance in common pathogens helps identify basic mechanisms and selective pressures involved in the evolution and transfer of antibiotic resistance genes, thus helping to maintain both the availability of these drugs to producers and safe meat for consumers.

 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS scientists in Athens, Georgia, described a variety of environmental sources of Campylobacter spp. during epidemiological studies conducted in the United States and Iceland. In laboratory studies they analyzed levels of Campylobacter translocation to different lymphoid and reproductive organs in inoculated breeder hens and roosters utilizing molecular detection techniques.

 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  This research has demonstrated that just one method will never be sufficient to control Campylobacter in poultry, and multiple target interventions will be needed to reduce the incidence of contamination in production flocks.  Campylobacter may be stable in rooster semen and the bacteria may be carried to lymphoid organs.  This is a source of potential transmission among poultry flocks in addition to environmental sources.  Producers of hatching eggs can now work to eliminate this source of contamination.

 

using new detection and quantitation methodologies, including genomic technologies, and through study of crop fungal toxin relationships, production practices and expert systems, breeding targets for resistant crops, biocontrol technologies and chemical toxicity, develop practices, products, and information that will reduce preharvest fungal/toxin contamination of plant derived food products.  Ensure that these technologies can be utilized by regulatory agencies and/or producers to help produce safe food products.

 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS scientists in Peoria, Illinois, developed rapid, easy to perform, and quickly learned fluorescence polarization immunoassays for measuring the mycotoxin, fumonisin, and zearalonone in maize and deoxynivalenol in wheat.

 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  These assays offer environmentally friendly alternatives to traditional instrumental methods and ELISAs.  They will be useful screening tools for both State and Federal government agencies and industry to determine mycotoxin contamination.

 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS scientists in Athens, Georgia, determined that Fusarium verticillioides is transmitted from seed to corn plant to seed as an endophyte, and the fungus grows more readily on reproductive and immature tissues than old vegetative tissue.  No deleterious effects on corn yield were found in a 3-year study and there were only infrequent negative effects on plant growth under ideal field conditions.  However, under stress fumonisin accumulation is accelerated.

 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  This information on fungal transmission provides a basic understanding of the very complex fungal endophyte/crop interaction which is necessary to develop effective strategies to prevent mycotoxin accumulation in crop plants.  This knowledge will also help reduce investment and utilization of ineffective control strategies for fumonisin mycotoxins produced by Fusarium verticillioides.

 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS scientists in Peoria, Illinois, developed the data and formulated a computer program that will give useful predictions for fumonisin and aflatoxin occurrence in most corn hybrids in most years.  They demonstrated that Bt corn often had significantly reduced levels of mycotoxins compared to non-Bt corn, but that the degree of benefit was dependent on the timing and makeup of the insect pest complex in the particular crop year.

 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  This computer program provides farmers with a valuable tool for creating a comprehensive mycotoxin management program.  It has been made available to producers in an easy to use format.  This information is critical in predicting the usefulness of genetically engineered corn and in providing corn producers with information on the specific benefits that they can expect from planting.

 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS scientists at New Orleans, Louisiana, developed a cloned DNA library of A. flavus which was prepared and sequenced for The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR) using expressed sequence tag (EST) technology to identify unique genes that the fungus uses to accomplish all its biological and physiological functions.

 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  This gene library will allow deciphering of how environmental factors affect the fungus, which genes are turned on during the plant-fungus interaction and aflatoxin production, as well as fungal survival in the field environment.  It will provide identification/characterization of a complex set of genes involved in fungal virulence, aflatoxin formation signaling pathways between the fungus and the environment, and fungal reproduction/survival, and processes which need to be understood if fungal infection and aflatoxin production in crops is to be prevented.

 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS scientists at New Orleans, Louisiana, developed atoxigenic strain technology to reduce aflatoxin contamination in cottonseed and the associated costs to industry.  Working in Phoenix, Arizona, they established baseline levels of the atoxigenic biological control fungus AF36 which provides a basis for determining the influence of AF36 on natural mycoflora and fungal communities when applied over large expanses.  They compiled all of the information and interpreted the data which was used to obtain EPA approval of AF36, and developed a commercial scale production system for this fungal biological control agent.  Specific technologies were transferred to industry and the Arizona Cotton Research and Protection Council, including simple strain identification, starter culture procedures, scale-up procedures, quality control procedures, and methods to assess efficacy.

 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Over 30,000 acres of crops will be treated in collaboration with ARS in Arizona in 2004, and 5,000 acres will be treated in Texas where some areas have severe problems with aflatoxin.  Up to $18 million in annual cottonseed losses by Arizona industries alone could be prevented by use of atoxigenic strain technology as a biocontrol for aflatoxin.  Prevention of the losses throughout the million plus acres of cotton and corn in affected parts of south Texas would have an even greater effect.

 

Performance Measure 3.1.2:  Develop and transfer to Federal agencies and the private sector systems that rapidly and accurately detect, identify, and differentiate the most critical and economically important foodborne microbial pathogens.

 

Indicators:

 

During FY 2003, ARS will

 

develop innovative methods and advanced technology systems that: rapidly and accurately detect, identify, and differentiate the most critical and economically important foodborne contaminants, such as bacterial, viral, and protozoan pathogens; drug and chemical residues; and pathophysiological and processing surface contamination that will assure food safety.  Ensure that the technologies are transferred to the Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in their regulatory authority; to the Department of Homeland Security relative to food security; and industry for implementation into Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) programs and Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) protocols for both large and small producers and processors.

 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS scientists at Beltsville, Maryland, and Athens, Georgia, working with industry and university scientists have developed and are now validating a low cost, nonhuman intervention, computer controlled, on-line automated system for broiler carcass inspection that operates in the slaughter plant at typical processing speeds.  The system operates at greater than 98 percent accuracy and can identify diseased or damaged broilers and surface contamination (feces), critical to protecting the consumer from a potential source of inedible food.  The work is consistent with ARS research in Ames, Iowa, utilizing similar technology to detect surface contamination on beef carcasses.

 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  By implementing this technology, FSIS could redeploy thousands of inspectors to HACCP inspection tasks.  The broiler industry would financially gain billions of dollars in discounted value.  A hand held version of the technology, approved by FSIS, is already in use by the beef industry.

 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:   ARS scientists at Albany, California; Athens Georgia; Beltsville, Maryland; Peoria, Illinois; and Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania, working in collaboration with various universities have developed several rapid, high throughput methods to enumerate bacteria and toxins in foods and other types of samples.  The new procedures allow high throughput processing of samples, minimize space utilization, streamline processing time/labor, incur very low expenses, and have excellent accuracy and precision.  The technologies can be further modified and incorporated into an automated (robotics) sample processing scheme to increase efficiency.

 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Development of this technology can have significant impact on the ability of FSIS and the Food and FDA’s ability to increase sampling of locally produced and imported foods.

 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS scientists at Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania, developed a rapid and simple, quantitative and confirmatory method of analysis for beta-lactam antibiotics.  The new approach can also be expanded to include other antibiotic drugs of concern eventually allowing ARS to devise the most effective and efficient overall analytical scheme to monitor chemical residues in foods. 

 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Development of this technology will have a significant and immediate impact for FSIS and FDA, which have a critical problem with the differentiation between the beta-lactam antibiotics, ceftiofur, and penicillin in their current regulatory monitoring program.

 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS scientists at Albany, California and Athens, Georgia, are part of a European Union funded (EU) international consortium, bringing together nine participants from six EU countries, South Africa, and the United States to develop international “gold standard” procedures for the routine isolation and detection of emerging Campylobacter bacteria from food, water, environmental, and clinical samples.  The bacterium is a significant national and international public health risk.  It is the cause of human bacterial associated gastroenteritis worldwide, responsible for 500 million cases of diarrhea each year.  The bacteria can also cause reactive arthritis and the neurological disease Guillain-Barre which can result in paralysis and death.

 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The procedures which will be developed will have application both in epidemiological and inoculation studies in determining the prevalence and assessing the survival of these pathogens throughout the food chain.  Factors that affect pathogenicity will be determined, practical control strategies will be developed, and data will be produced which will allow development of a risk assessment model.

 

determine the microbial ecology and transmission of human pathogens during animal, plant, and seafood (shellfish) processing, and identify the critical control points to reduce contamination. Develop innovative postharvest intervention strategies for improving the microbial and chemical safety of foods while reducing the impact on quality and consumer acceptance. Ensure that these technologies can be implemented into HACCP and GMP protocols for both large and small producers and processors, and have efficacy for approval by FSIS and FDA.

 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS scientists in Clay Center, Nebraska, in association with industry and universities in the National Alliance for Food Safety and Security, investigated the problem of seasonal variations in the prevalence of E. coli O157:H7, Salmonella, and non-O157 Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) during beef production and processing.  The studies indicated a marked seasonal effect on the prevalence of these pathogens, emphasized the efficacy of antimicrobial interventions used by the industry, and implicated hides as a major source of pathogens on beef carcasses.

 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Regulatory action agencies, in particular FSIS, and industry will use this information to develop risk assessments based on seasonal prevalence, and to support the development of new antimicrobial strategies for preventing hide-to-carcass transfer of pathogens.

 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS scientists at Athens, Georgia, in association with industry and university researchers, determined that soiled transportation coops, and carcass defeathering with subsequent airborne contamination are not critical control points in HACCP plans for broiler slaughter and processing.

 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Although cage costs and space requirements make routine storage of transportation coops between uses impractical for industry, these data justify the storage of soiled cages during periods of non-use.  That airborne contamination is not a significant issue will allow future studies to focus on other potentially critical sources of pathogens, such as feces and ingesta.  Sources of contamination of poultry are a critical issue for both FSIS and industry.

 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS scientists at Beltsville, Maryland, in cooperation with industry, have developed and are now validating the use of bacteriophages (highly specific bacterial viruses) to kill bacterial pathogens in packaged fruits, vegetables, and meats.

 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Implementing the use of bacteriophages as an intervention strategy in certain pre-packaged food products has the potential to significantly reduce the number of outbreaks of foodborne disease, thus decreasing the public health risk.  Use of bacteriophage as an intervention strategy has the support of industry and regulatory agencies.  A national and international patent has been filed for its use.

 

undertake genomic and proteomic analysis of pathogens affecting food safety.  Develop bioinformatic databases and tools, and predictive user friendly models to understand pathogen behavior and acquisition of virulence characteristics when under various stress conditions. Determine the key risk factors of human pathogens in foods, and evaluate systems interventions for their impact, which will allow regulatory/action agencies to make critical food safety decisions that impact public health and food security.

 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS, in association with The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR), sequenced, annotated, and compared the genome of four L. monocytogenes strains.  In association with university collaborators, the National Alliance for Food Safety and Security, and the Institute of Food Research, Norwich, United Kingdom, ARS scientists also developed genomic microarrays for L. monocytogenes and E. coli O157:H7.

 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The availability of this new genetic information will make it possible to better address food safety related problems through the application of powerful genomic and proteomic technologies.  For example, the development of better and more rapid detection techniques, the identification of those proteins essential for bacterial pathogen survival and growth in foods, and the development of data for risk assessment will ultimately be used by FSIS and FDA to develop strategies to decrease the public health risk.

 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS scientists at Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania, in association with national and international advisors from other Federal agencies (FSIS/FDA), industry, and various universities, have developed the next generation of the Pathogen Modeling Program (PMP) software.  The data behind the models and other predictive microbiology records are now available through an on-line relational database, called ComBase, developed in association with the Institute of Food Research in Norwich, United Kingdom, and the United Kingdom Food Standards Agency.  The ComBase web site (http://wyndmoor.arserrc.gov/combase/ currently contains more than 30,000 data sets.

 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The PMP software is utilized by national and international regulatory agencies and various food industries to control the presence and levels of bacterial pathogens in food.  Microbial models assist in identifying specific food processing steps that can serve as critical control points in HACCP systems.  At the international level, predictive models are an integral part of microbial risk assessment used to support food safety measures adopted by member countries of the World Trade Organization.  ComBase is a unique database and on-line resource, impacting the development and validation of new microbial models, providing the food industry with an efficient location of specific food microbiology data, and allowing access to improved models that consider the complex nature of pathogen-food interactions.  The Chief Executive of the United Kingdom Food Standards Agency described ComBase as “an exemplar of the way that governments and the research community can successfully work together to help improve the safety of food products” while the Co-Director of the Australian Food Safety Center stated “the ComBase initiative will be a watershed in the evolution of predictive modeling and its widespread application.”

 

OBJECTIVE 3.2:  Develop and Deliver Science-Based Information and Technologies To Reduce the Number and Severity of Agricultural Pest, Insect, Weed, and Disease Outbreaks.

 

Performance Measure 3.2.1:  Provide scientific information to protect animals from pests, infectious diseases, and other disease-causing entities that affect animal and human health.

 

Indicators:

 

During FY 2003, ARS will

 

determine partial and full genomic sequences of four important animal pathogens or vectors to better understand the evolution of new variants, determinants of virulence, host range specificity, and factors that enable evasion from host defense mechanisms.

 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS has taken the lead in coordinating an international effort (involving researchers worldwide) to sequence the tick genome (more than one billion nucleotides) and organizing the sequencing of Boophilus microplus.  In 2003, the first library of 20,000 clones of expressed genes was produced.  It is now being analyzed.

 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  No tick or related arthropod has yet been sequenced.  The economic and health significance of ticks makes this a priority project.  By the end of 2004, it is estimated that 60,000 clones of expressed genes will have been isolated.

 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Seven regions of the DNA of Mycobacterium paratuberculosis (Johne’s disease) that stimulate protective responses and one that exacerbates infection were identified. Sequencing was completed on two of the putative protective regions; a microarray system of gene pooling was developed and is ready for testing. 

 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The identification of M. paratuberculosis genes that are associated with host protection is an important milestone in the development of an effective molecular vaccine to control Johne’s disease.

 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  The Brucella abortus (Brucellosis) genome sequencing project was used to identify variable regions in the genome in an effort to differentiate Brucella abortus strains resulting in the development of a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay.

 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The Brucella abortus PCR assay developed by ARS will allow Federal (APHIS) and State action and regulatory agencies to determine the source of a brucellosis infection in a cattle herd (including wildlife or other cattle) and help determine if a brucellosis outbreak is from single or multiple sources.

 

investigate the pathogenesis of two important animal pathogens to better understand tissue tropism, disease transmission, virulence, and the identification of phenotypic markers.

 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS scientists conducted and published the first pathogenesis studies of high and low virulence Bovine Viral Diarrhea Virus (BVDV) and generated tag sequence libraries for sequential analysis of gene expression (SAGE libraries) in infected cells in vitro.

 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The BVDV SAGE libraries, developed by ARS, provide a tool to study the interaction of high and low virulence viruses with host cells and identify the factors that control virulence which will enable the development of intervention strategies to limit the effects of viral infection.

 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS obtained 18 different Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS) virus isolates from disease outbreaks in the Midwest and sequenced the NSP2 genes of these viruses to examine variations that may correlate with disease expression.  Recombinant antigens have been developed and immunity to individual PRRS virus proteins evaluated from naturally infected swine from around the country.  Researchers conducted kenetic analysis studies of host-cell gene expression in response to PRRS virus infection using cDNA microarrays.  Studies to date indicate a number of responsive genes that increase in expression while others decrease in expression as a result of PRRS virus infection. 

 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The sequence analysis of a number of PRRS virus isolates will lead to an understanding of the host-virus interactions in the field and identification of viral genes responsible for induction of a protective immune response.

 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS conducted functional genomics studies of selected Marek's disease viral genes to better understand the mechanism by which the virus causes changes in infected chickens.  Several virus preparations with specific deletions or changes in selected genes were developed and the effects compared to unaltered viruses.  Results to date indicate that the 132 base pair nucleic acid repeats are non-essential for Marek’s Disease Virus (MDV) replication in cell culture, and chickens and viruses lacking these repeat sequences are still pathogenic.  Furthermore, the putative MDV oncogene called “meq” could be deleted but was found to be essential for the transformation of lymphocytes in infected chickens.  It was also found that the pp38 gene in the vaccine virus, Rispens, functions identically to the pp38 gene in the very virulent Md5 virus.

 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The functional genomics studies of selected Marek's disease viral genes are enhancing our knowledge of the mechanisms of virus replication and virulence, which is an important milestone for developing a new class of vaccines against this very important poultry disease.

 

investigate the epidemiology of two important animal diseases to better understand their ecology and life cycle and provide effective disease surveillance to facilitate the development of control strategies and prevent disease transmission.

 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS collected swabs from the species of wild birds previously found to have Avian Pneumovirus (APV) antibodies.  Avian Pneumovirus was identified from 12 of the sampled wild birds and it was determined through sequence analysis of the glycoprotein, matrix, and fusion genes that the wild bird viruses are closely related to viruses found in domestic poultry.

 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The identification of APV in wild birds and its relationship to viruses found in domestic poultry indicate the potential for wild birds to spread APV infections in areas of the United States where the virus is currently not found in poultry.

 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS identified the viral shedding patterns of Malignant Catarrhal Fever (MCF) in both adolescent and adult sheep.  The data indicate that nasal shedding is the major mode of sheep-associated MCF virus transmission among domestic sheep and that the adolescents are by far the heaviest shedders of virus for other species.

 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The kinetics of the shedding patterns of MCF in adolescent sheep appear to be a unique biological phenomenon without precedent, and definition of the virus-host mechanisms underlying this behavior should lead to new knowledge on the potential ways viruses can interact with hosts.

 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS scientists established that the tonsils of deer are a reliable early indicator of infection and established a valid method for detecting Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in live deer.  This test is suitable for use in surveillance of deer in highly populated areas, where hunting is not allowed but artificial feeding may increase disease prevalence.  In addition, scientists have established that the dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus nerve is the earliest site of PrP-CWD accumulation in mule deer.  This research identifies the tissue to be selected for diagnostic testing in hunter harvest surveys.

 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The CWD pathogenesis studies conducted by ARS in deer and mule deer have resulted in the identification of tissue samples that has enabled the development of effective diagnostic procedures for live animals.

 

Performance Measure 3.2.2:    Identify, develop, and release to the U.S. agricultural community genetic markers, genetic lines, breeds, or germplasm that result in food animals with improved (either through traditional breeding or biotechnology) pest- and disease-resistant traits.

 

Indicators:

 

During FY 2003, ARS will identify one genetic marker and one gene from food animals that can be used to identify animals with disease resistant traits.

 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS developed a DNA-based test for the Avian Leukosis Virus (ALV) receptor gene known as TVB (a tumor necrosis factor receptor-related protein).  This genetic test can distinguish if a chicken carries TVB alleles that confer resistant to ALV subgroups B or E, which are some of the most prevalent ALV types in the field.

 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The TVB DNA-based assay developed by ARS allows poultry breeders to accurately select for chickens for resistance to specific ALVs, which will enhance egg production and decrease mortality losses.

 

Performance Measure 3.2.3:    Develop and transfer tools to the agricultural community, commercial partners, and Federal agencies to control or eradicate domestic and exotic diseases that affect animal and human health.

 

Indicators:

 

During FY 2003, ARS will

 

discover and develop two novel diagnostic technologies to detect and control diseases that impact animal health, animal production, and trade.

 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS scientists developed serotyping polymerase chain reaction (PCR) primers designed from variable regions of the Listeria monocytogenes genome.  Three primer sets were used in conjunction with a previously described Division III primer set in order to classify 122 Listeria monocytogenes strains into five serotype groups.

 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The Listeria monocytogenes serotyping PCR primers developed by ARS will enhance the ease and accessibility of the “gold standard” serological classification system that permits differentiation between important food-borne strains.

 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Poult Enteritis Mortality Syndrome (PEMS) is a highly infectious disease of young turkeys.  Currently, no rapid or sensitive laboratory tests are available to identify the viruses involved in PEMS production.  A rapid and sensitive real time reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction test (RRT-PCR – a biotechnology test to detect genes) was developed to detect turkey astrovirus type-2, one of the major viruses involved in production of PEMS in turkeys.

 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The development of a real time RT-PCR diagnostic test for PEMS offers substantial advantages over the older standard RT-PCR technology, including improved accuracy, speed, and sensitivity.

 

develop and evaluate one new delivery system that will enhance the value of disease prevention.

 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS scientists developed a self propelled vaccinator capable of vaccinating 75,000 chickens in 7½ minutes.  The research has resulted in a machine that is capable of uniformly and consistently delivering Mycoplasma gallisepticum (MG) vaccine to 75,000 chickens in less than 8 minutes as compared to 50 minutes for conventional methods.

 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The impact of the MG vaccinator developed by ARS is that producers using the available commercial vaccines can administer MG vaccines quicker and more consistently and uniformly to pullets reducing labor by 60 percent.

 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Lyme disease is transmitted by ticks that multiply on whitetail deer.  ARS scientists have patented and licensed to the National Lyme Disease Foundation the “4-Poster,” a novel device shown to control ticks on wild deer.

 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Because of its feral epidemiology, Lyme disease is especially difficult to control.  The “4-Poster” will reduce Lyme disease in the Northeast by controlling the vector in the forest before it has contact with humans.

 

discover two immunological reagents and one novel vaccine formulation to control a high priority infectious disease.

 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS scientists discovered an adenovirus-vectored H3N2 Swine Influenza Virus (SIV) vaccine with novel characteristics:  it prevents shedding and it is efficacious in the presence of maternal antibodies.

 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  With H3N2 SIV, the first time an efficacious vaccine can be developed for the period when pigs are the most vulnerable.  Unfortunately, because of potential intellectual property/patent infringement associated with the adenovirus vector selected for this research, this novel vaccine technology cannot be transferred to a commercial partner for full development.

 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS discovered and produced three monoclonal antibodies to study host immune responses in chickens and have transferred them to diagnostic firms for further development.  Several of these monoclonal antibodies can now be used to assess the immune status of chickens vaccinated with different infectious agents.  The results to date indicate that these monoclonal antibodies are useful in the identification of lymphocyte subpopulations and macrophages in the tissues and the peripheral blood from chickens infected with microbial agents or vaccinated with the viral vaccines.

 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The discovery of immunological reagents is paramount to understanding the mechanisms of protective immunity and is a critical milestone in diagnostic and vaccine discovery.

 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS has discovered and characterized the gene for soluble CD14 which binds and neutralizes endotoxins responsible for mastitis.  The gene was cloned and recombinant bovine (rbo)-CD14 protein was successfully produced and evaluated.  Intraperitoneal injection of rboCD14 together with endotoxin reduced the fatality rate in mice.  Preliminary studies indicate that intramammary injection of soluble rboCD14 is 100 percent effective in preventing mastitis by Escherichia coli in lactating dairy cows.

 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The discovery of CD14 will potentially lead to a product that for the first time can be used effectively to treat and prevent mastitis caused by E. coli.

 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Solanum glaucophyllum is a plant that contains the active form of vitamin D.  ARS scientists have investigated the utility of this plant in the prevention of subclinical hypocalcemia (milk fever) in periparturient dairy cows and discovered that when used in combination with diets high in anions (chloride), the incidence of subclinical hypocalcemia in dairy cows can be reduced.

 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Identifying the medical benefits of using Solanum glaucophyllum in feed will offer further opportunities to dairy farmers in avoiding complications due to hypocalcemia, such as displaced abomasum, retained placenta, and mastitis.

 

Performance Measure 3.2.4:    Develop and release to potential users varieties and/or germplasm of agriculturally important plants that are new or provide significantly improved (either through traditional breeding or biotechnology) characteristics enhancing pest or disease resistance.

 

Indicators:

 

During FY 2003, ARS will

 

identify and characterize genes of insect resistance in crop plants, closely related non-crop species, and other species to enhance opportunities for developing host plant resistance and incorporate such genes into commercially acceptable varieties.

 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS scientists have generated greenbug resistant wheat.  Greenbug resistance, bred into a new, hard red winter wheat germplasm line, is now available for use in developing new varieties of the crop.  Greenbug is a major pest of wheat and plagues cereal crops in both the northern and southern Great Plains.  Attacks by the tiny, sap-sucking pest cost wheat farmers $250 million annually in crop losses and pesticide expenses.  Resistant wheat is a cornerstone of integrated approaches to fighting the greenbug.  But new cultivars are always needed because new biotypes of the pest can emerge to overcome them.  The new line which is designated N96L9970, was developed by ARS scientists in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The new greenbug-resistant wheat germplasm line, N96L9970, should provide wheat breeders with a source of genes conferring resistance to five greenbug biotypes:  B, C, E, G, and I. ARS scientists are taking seed requests at the ARS’ Wheat, Sorghum and Forage Research Unit in Lincoln, Nebraska.

 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS is developing new root weevil and disease resistant citrus rootstocks.  The three new citrus rootstocks developed by ARS scientists in Fort Pierce, Florida, have emerged as strong candidates to help the U.S. citrus industry combat key diseases, such as Phytophthora and the citrus root weevil.  The new rootstocks are called US-897, US-942 and US-802.  Collaborators are an important part of ARS’ research effort, helping to test new rootstocks for resistance to diseases and pests.  A quality rootstock can defend itself against these diseases and pests while producing a high yield of quality fruit sustained over a long period of time that is up to 50 years.

 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The three citrus rootstocks developed by ARS and resistant to citrus root weevil and Phytophthora diseases are at least three to four years away from commercialization, but they have performed well in initial tests in damp coastal soil for combating the Diaprepes citrus root weevil and Phytophthora.

 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  The sunflower stem weevil, a pest of cultivated sunflower, causes severe crop losses in the Central Plains sunflower production areas of Colorado and Kansas.  ARS scientists in Fargo, North Dakota, in cooperation with scientists at the University of Colorado and Kansas State University, have evaluated sunflower hybrids and other accessions for resistance to the sunflower stem weevil using field nurseries located in both western Colorado and eastern Kansas.  The impact of altered planting dates to reduce weevil damage was also a part of the research.

 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Sunflower accessions evaluated for resistance to the sunflower stem weevil had as high as 70 percent less weevil larvae in the stalks.  Populations of larvae in the stalks were reduced as planting was delayed.  Integrated pest management schemes that incorporate resistant sunflower hybrids and delayed planting dates can effectively reduce weevil damage, thus preventing yield losses to growers.

 

identify and characterize genes of plant disease resistance in crop plants, closely related non-crop species, and other species to enhance opportunities for developing host plant resistance and incorporate such genes into commercially acceptable varieties.

 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Losses due to stripe rust have been severe for U.S. wheat producers.  ARS scientists at Pullman, Washington, have identified new, emerging races of the stripe rust pathogen.  Also, they have evaluated over 12,000 wheat and barley accessions from the ARS National Small Grain Collection for rust resistance. 

 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Wheat and barley accessions with stripe rust resistance can now be used as breeding sources to develop more stripe rust resistant wheat and barley varieties.

 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS scientists at Madison, Wisconsin, have been working to locate a disease resistant gene in order to permit studies on fine mapping of the wild potato (Solanum bulbocastanum), which has resistance to late blight disease.  Using molecular markers, ARS scientists in collaboration with the University of Wisconsin, were able to determine the location of the resistant gene in the potato genome.  The gene was located and cloned. 

 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The impact of identifying disease resistant genes in wild potato will be a plant resistant to late blight, thus eliminating the need for fungicide spraying.

 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Wheat is vulnerable to diseases and insect damage.  Researchers at West Lafayette, Indiana; Purdue University; and the CuraGen Corporation have discovered over 3,000 new wheat genes that respond to disease pathogens and pests.  These genes are differentially regulated when wheat is attacked by scab, viruses, or Hessian flies. 

 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The new wheat disease resistant gene information can be used to develop wheat with improved resistance to disease or insect threats.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS scientists at Ames, Iowa, working with national and international barley researchers, and Affymetrix, have developed a microarray chip that contains over 400,000 ESTs (expressed sequence tags) for barley genes.  The project received funding from a USDA-CSREES initiative for Future Agriculture and Food Systems. 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The barley genome GeneChip enables cereal researchers to assess the effects of drought, pests, and diseases on most barley genes simultaneously, which will result in improvements to barley.

 

Performance Measure 3.2.5:  Provide fundamental and applied scientific information and technology to protect agriculturally important plants from pests and diseases.

 

Indicators:

 

During FY 2003, ARS will

 

develop fundamental knowledge about insect biology and ecology that provides the foundation for strategies to exclude, detect, and mitigate pest infestations.

 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS scientists can now predict Asian Longhorned Beetles’ (ALB) roaming habits.  If the ALB continues its advance, this invasive pest may potentially alter the makeup of North American hardwood forests.  Losses to lumber, maple syrup, and tourism industries could reach $670 billion.  ARS scientists in Newark, Delaware, have generated new dispersal data that predicts how far the beetle might spread once it begins to invade an area.  Determining ALB presence has depended solely upon visual surveys.  Locating these subtle signs of ALB infestation is time-consuming and costly.  The scientists conducted the first ALB dispersal research in the beetle’s home territory of Gansu Province, China.  They found that the beetles, even females carrying eggs, fly much longer distances than originally thought.

 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The new ALB dispersal data could be used by APHIS and officials in infested States to establish more reliable survey and quarantine boundaries, increasing the chances of successful control or eradication.

 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  New caterpillar attractants from flowers show promise for pest control in potato crops.  Alfalfa loopers, cabbage loopers, cutworms, and armyworms damage potato foliage through their feeding, reduce yields, and require multiple applications of chemical pesticides.  ARS scientists at Wapato, Washington, have identified a novel combination of natural product chemicals in flower odors that are highly attractive to both sexes of alfalfa looper moths.  These chemicals were evaluated in pesticide-treated bait stations to lure and kill female moths before they lay eggs.

 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  In five-acre potato plots, the number of pest moths was reduced by 75 percent using new caterpillar attractants from flowers.  Commercial production of this technology can provide a way to bait these moths in order to reduce reproduction and prevent damage to potato and other susceptible crops, while minimizing pesticide use.

 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Squash bugs and cucurbit yellow vine disease can be thwarted by kaolin particle film applications.  Cucurbit Yellow Vine Disease (CYVD) transmitted by the squash bug, is an emerging and serious disease of watermelon, muskmelon, squash, and pumpkin from Texas to Massachusetts.  It is caused by a bacterium that inhabits the plant’s vascular system.  ARS scientists in Lane, Oklahoma, in cooperation with scientists at Texas A&M University and Oklahoma State University, have found a way to reduce losses to CYVD and its insect vector.  Over a two-year period, weekly applications of a non-toxic kaolin particle film, which is commercially available, significantly reduced both squash bug populations and incidence of CYVD in summer squash.

 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Adoption of kaolin particle film technology by watermelon, muskmelon, squash, and pumpkin growers could substantially reduce squash bug feeding and CYVD incidence in cucurbit crops.

 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS participation in the IR-4 program consisted of 77 field trials for food crops and 31 field trials for ornamentals which contributed to EPA registrations on 23 food crops for 10 insecticides and on 25 ornamental crops for 4 insecticides.

 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Availability of these insecticides has enhanced the pest management options for minor crop producers.

 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  The Systematic Entomology Laboratory, Beltsville, Maryland, provided over 19,418 identifications of insect port specimens, including 7,270 of urgent priority.  Fourteen species were discovered to be new invasives into the continental United States, Hawaii, or Puerto Rico.  Additionally, the laboratory identified the emerald ash borer, a destructive pest of ash trees in the Great Lakes region.  Scalenet, containing information on over 1,000 scale insects, has now been made accessible at http://www.sel.barc.usda.gov/scalenet/scalenet.htm.  A fossil fly from the South Pole was identified.  This identification questions theories of fly dispersal, and documents a significant warming period on the Antarctic continent 3-17 million years ago.

 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Systematics is essential for all work research on combating invasive and native pest insects.  Accurate identification is needed to determine pest management strategies, including finding natural enemies for pest control. 

 

develop fundamental knowledge about weed biology and ecology that provides the foundation for strategies to exclude, detect, and mitigate weed infestations.

 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS participation in the IR-4 program with 31 field trials for food crops and 46 field trials for ornamentals contributed to EPA registrations on 10 food crops for 5 herbicides and on 33 ornamental crops for 6 herbicides.

 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Availability of these herbicides enhanced the pest management options for minor crop producers.

 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Saltcedar, Tamarix spp., is a destructive invasive shrub/small tree that has invaded riparian areas all across the western United States where it extensively consumes valuable water.  There are currently no sustainable methods available for its management.  ARS scientists in Albany, California, in cooperation with ARS scientists in Temple, Texas, and several State and local collaborators, conducted studies on a beneficial biological control agent, a leaf beetle (Diorhabda elongata), from China, Greece, North Africa, and other locations in Eurasia.  After regulatory approval, these beetles were released into the open environment in several Western States where they have begun to defoliate saltcedar. 

 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The saltcedar leaf beetle is rapidly spreading.  At locations in Nevada, the beetles have spread several hundred meters and have caused extensive defoliation to saltcedar for two seasons in a row.  As the impact by this biological control agent continues, management of saltcedar is expected to occur over vast areas, reducing water loss, lowering the use of herbicides, and returning the land to productivity.

 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Roundup-Ready crops have proliferated in the United States, Canada, and Argentina, but little is known about the effects of this new cropping system on the environment, specifically on biodiversity.  ARS scientists at Pullman, Washington, in conjunction with land grant universities in Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, and Louisiana, as well as the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina, examined the effects of Roundup-Ready soybean on biodiversity (as characterized by number and quantities of weeds) and soybean yield along a transect from Minnesota to Louisiana.  Roundup-Ready crops promoted biological diversity compared to traditional crop management techniques and weed treatments.  This occurred only if the crops are treated with a single application of glyphosate (the active ingredient in Roundup). 

 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The research demonstrated that the European perception of reduced biological diversity with adoption of Roundup-Ready technology may not be valid, at least under U.S. conditions, if the technology is used judiciously. 

 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Russian thistle (tumbleweed), Salsola kali, is an invasive weed across many Western States, where it competes with better forage plants for water and resources, and becomes a safety hazard when it blows across expressways and blocks the vision of drivers.  Fall application of a persistent, soil-active herbicide may be an effective way to control Russian knapweed growth the following year; however, current-year.  An ARS scientist in Burns, Oregon, the Oregon Department of Agriculture, Harney County Extension Service, and a private landowner cooperatively researched a new technology that mows and applies herbicide in a single pass, removing standing dead plants, and allowing more herbicide to reach the soil where it is taken up by plant roots. 

 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Russian knapweed control in the two years following application was improved by using this new technology.  This method increases profits to hay and forage growers by reducing herbicide costs and providing better control of Russian knapweed.

 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Plant pathogens are needed as biological control agents for management of yellow starthistle (YST), Centaurea solstitialis, a serious invasive weed in the Western United States that currently infests over 12 million acres in California alone.  Puccinia jaceae, a rust fungus biological control agent from Eurasia that causes severe disease on YST rosettes and bolting stems, was released in California by ARS scientists from Frederick, Maryland, in cooperation with the California Department of Food and Agriculture.  P. jaceae is the first fungus to be released for weed biological control in the continental United States in over 25 years.

 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  P. jaceae established quickly, and is expected to spread long distances without human intervention, attack YST throughout the Western United States, complement insect biological control agent species already in place, and play a key role in the ultimate management of YST, California’s worst weed.  Approval of a rust fungus as a biological control agent is a breakthrough for weed management in the continental United States and is expected to facilitate approval of other fungal agents in the future.

 

develop fundamental knowledge about plant disease biology and ecology that provides the foundation for strategies to exclude, detect, and mitigate pest infestations.

 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS participation in the IR-4 program consisted of 31 field trials for food crops and 24 field trials for ornamentals which contributed to EPA registrations on 11 food crops for eight fungicides and on 11 ornamental crops for four fungicides.

 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Availability of these fungicides enhanced the pest management options for minor crop producers.

 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Little is known about the genetic variability on maize chlorotic dwarf virus, a corn virus that causes significant disease problems in the Southeastern United States.  ARS scientists at Wooster, Ohio, sequenced both severe and mild isolates of the virus.  The severe strain shared about 60 percent sequence identity with the mild type. 

 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Wide variability among the corn chlorotic dwarf viruses suggest that the disease may be caused by a complex of more than one virus, a finding that will likely impact the design of disease control strategies.

 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Citrus Tristeza Virus (CTV) is the most important virus disease of citrus.  Evaluation of the rate of spread and virulence of CTV in the San Joaquin Valley of California remains critical to the local citrus industry and the fate of the CTV eradication program.  ARS scientists at Parlier, California, found that CTV spread continues at a high rate despite extensive eradication efforts.  Isolates from different infected trees in a 4 square mile area yielded the same highly transmissible virus strain by the cotton aphid, but the virulence was benign in commercial varieties grown in this area.

 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Findings from the characterization and epidemiology of citrus tristeza virus suggests that the eradication program in its present state may no longer be useful or cost effective.

 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus (TSWV) is a significant viral pathogen on peanut in the southwest United States.  The ability of this virus to infect plants and the host range of the virus is controlled by a critical gene (NsM).  ARS scientists at Stillwater, Oklahoma, cloned and sequenced the NsM gene and determined the molecular origin of the genotypic differences that exist among the collection of TSWV isolates taken from peanut. 

 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The NsM gene of TSWV will aid in the identification of stable sources of resistance for the peanut germplasm.

 

Performance Measure 3.2.6:    Provide needed scientific information and technology to producers of agriculturally important plants in support of exclusion, detection and early eradication; control and monitoring of invasive insects, weeds and pathogens; and restoration of affected areas.  Conduct biologically-based integrated and areawide management of key invasive species.

 

Indicators:

 

During FY 2003, ARS will

 

develop and demonstrate technologies for excluding, detecting, and mitigating native and invasive insect pests, including integrated pest management (IPM) and areawide approaches, and deliver IPM components and systems to the ARS customer base.

 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  The boll weevil has wreaked havoc on the American cotton industry, with yield losses and control costs totaling more than $22 billion since its 1892 arrival in the United States.  As boll weevils spread, they forced radical economic and social changes in areas that had been almost completely dependent on cotton production.  Hope for stopping the boll weevil had been bleak until the 1970’s, when ARS research began to create needed tools.  ARS developed an essential pheromone lure and trap, along with basic biological information about the pest.  Then ARS helped assemble the research − from ARS and from universities, state experiment stations, extension agents, and many others − into an areawide pest eradication model.

 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Eradication of the boll weevil is now a major success, thanks in large part to ARS research.  The success story of boll weevil eradication was built on cooperation between government research and regulatory agencies, especially ARS and USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, which has regulatory responsibility for the eradication program – along with universities, industry, states, and growers.

 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  The ARS partnership Hawaiian fruit fly areawide pest management project has resulted in the first successful program to control fruit flies that have been devastating Hawaiian agriculture for almost 100 years.  The control system is based on a combination of techniques, such as field sanitation, male fruit fly annihilation, and protein bait sprays, developed primarily by ARS, which have been adapted and coordinated into an IPM initiative specifically designed to work in Hawaii’s environment.  The target fruit flies -- melon, Oriental, Mediterranean, and Malaysian -- attack more than 400 different fruits and vegetables.  A hallmark of the program has been a network of partnerships involving ARS, the Hawaii Department of Agriculture, the University of Hawaii Cooperative Extension Service and local communities, with the support of APHIS and other research, regulatory, and government agencies.

 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  ARS’ Hawaiian fruit fly areawide pest management program has found wide-spread acceptance by Hawaiian growers.  The 285 signed cooperating growers in this program, representing 6,200 acres, across the major islands of Hawaii have already been able to cut conventional pesticide use by 75 to 90 percent.  Small farms are now growing crops they had previously abandoned due to fruit fly damage.  The impact of the program is expanding in Hawaii and throughout the Pacific Basin (e.g., French Polynesia, Fiji, Vanuatu, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands).

 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS scientists at Peoria, Illinois, have developed a new fermentation procedure for mass producing a fungus to fight whiteflies, thrips, spider mites, and other invasive insect plant pests.  Whiteflies are prime target pests because the sap sucking insects are pests of some 600 different kinds of plants, including cotton, tomato, and poinsettia.  Infestations in these and other U.S. crops have caused multimillion dollar losses through transmission of viruses, and by gumming up farm equipment with their sticky wastes.  The fungus, Paecilomyces, kills whiteflies by penetrating the pest’s body to feed and grow; new spores emerge to infect other whiteflies, sparing non-host insects as they spread. 

 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Attempts to commercialize the fungus had previously stumbled on high production costs, quality control problems, and other setbacks.  The researchers have overcome these obstacles through their innovations on how the fungus’ spores are cultured, formulated, and made stable for long-term cold storage.

 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS overseas biological control laboratories in Australia, China, Argentina, France, Greece, and Italy combat invasive insect pests and weeds by identifying, collecting, testing, and shipping natural biological control agents to the U.S.  This year, natural enemies of the olive fruit fly were explored in Europe, South Africa, Kenya, and Tunisia by a team from the European Biological Control Laboratory and the South American Biological Control Laboratory, in conjunction with ARS researchers at Weslaco, Texas.  They also found potentially useful parasites of the glassy-winged sharpshooter.  In addition, the Australian Biological Control Laboratory found effective psyllids that attack the paperbark tree (Melaleuca) in Florida.

 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Invasive weeds and insect pests of foreign origin cause major economic losses (greater than $100 billion each year) and ecological problems in the United States.  The use of natural enemies derived from a pest’s point of origin in biological control programs offers the possibility for permanent, cost effective suppression of such weeds and insect pests. 

 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS scientists in Gainesville, Florida, with collaboration from ARS scientists in Manhattan, Kansas, have developed an automated system to detect hidden insect infestations in stored grain and other stored commodities.  This product, called Electronic Grain Probe Insect Counter (EGPIC) was patented by ARS in 1997, provides real time information about insect numbers in stored grain.  It can even determine the species of the infesting insect pest.  EGPIC has been integrated into commercial grain management system that is currently being marketed to the grain storage market.

 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The easy-to-use system allows grain storage and milling companies to use insecticides and fumigants as well as non-toxic alternatives only when needed, based on monitoring, rather than routinely scheduling preventive treatments.  This system will provide early warning of insect infestations giving grain managers more options for handling the situation, whether immediate milling of the grain or applying an insecticidal treatment.  This will provide a cost saving to the industry and a better quality product to the public.

 

develop and demonstrate technologies for excluding, detecting, and mitigating native and invasive weed pests, including integrated pest management (IPM) and areawide approaches, and deliver IPM components and systems to the ARS customer base.

 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Metham-sodium has been identified as a possible replacement for methyl bromide fumigation in vegetable crops, although questions persist regarding the optimum rate, timing, and need for polyethylene tarping for control of yellow nutsedge, Cyperus esculentus.  Field studies conducted by ARS scientists in Tifton, Georgia, identified the application guidelines for controlling yellow nutsedge in transplanted cucurbit crops with metham-sodium.  These trials demonstrated that thin film polyethylene mulch added consistency to metham-sodium efficacy and provided significant suppression of yellow nutsedge, even without a fumigant. 

 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The research suggests that the production practices for cantaloupe and other cucurbit crops can be easily altered to accommodate metham-sodium as a replacement for methyl bromide.

 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Medusahead, Taeniatherum caput-medusae, is an invasive annual grass that has spread over millions of acres in the semi-arid West, reducing forage production for wildlife and livestock and displacing native plant species.  ARS scientists in Burns, Oregon, in collaboration with Oregon State University and Bureau of Land Management personnel, investigated second year effects of the herbicides Oust® (sulfometuron methyl) and Plateau® (imazapic) on medusahead and associated native plant species.  Medusahead may be controlled using herbicides, but the effects on associated native species are site specific. 

 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Public land managers and private landowners can use Oust® and Plateau® to improve the effectiveness of medusahead control while maintaining native biodiversity and forage production.

 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Giant salvinia, Salvinia molesta, is one of the world's worst weeds, threatening the integrity of fresh water ecosystems in 12 Southern and Western States (and Hawaii) where it has invaded.  ARS scientists in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, working in collaboration with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, U.S. Geological Survey, Texas A&M University, and Florida A&M University, released the salvinia weevil, Cyrtobagous salviniae, a proven biological control agent, on giant salvinia in Texas and Louisiana during October 2001.  The weevil successfully over wintered in Texas and Louisiana, and by spring 2003 reduced plant densities in release plots to 10 percent of the densities in control plots, and by mid-summer caused the complete elimination of giant salvinia from some study sites. 

 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The salvinia weevil is poised to eliminate or reduce the threat of giant salvinia, thereby restoring or preserving freshwater ecosystems, reducing the use of herbicides or mechanical control, and providing affordable, sustainable management throughout the southeastern continental United States and Hawaii.

 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Little information is available on the control of common waterhemp, Amaranthus rudis, which has emerged recently as one of the most problematic weed species in soybean in the Midwest.  ARS scientists in Urbana, Illinois, conducted a three-year study to determine the critical interference period following soybean and common waterhemp emergence to enable removal practices to be implemented before soybean seed yield loss occurs.  Removal of common waterhemp interference two weeks after soybean unifoliolate expansion resulted in soybean seed yield equivalent to a season-long weed free control.  Delaying common waterhemp removal until four weeks decreased yield by 31 percent. 

 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  These results will assist producers in improving the timing of management practices for common waterhemp in soybean production, resulting in increased yield at decreased cost.

 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  The effectiveness of thin film polyethylene mulches in suppressing nutsedge growth was evaluated in the wake of the impending elimination of methyl bromide.  In greenhouse studies by ARS scientists in Tifton, Georgia, purple and yellow nutsedge (Cyperus rotundus and C. esculentus, respectively) growth was monitored in pots covered with black polyethylene mulch, clear polyethylene mulch, or not covered.  Relative to the non-mulched treatments, mulches reduced yellow nutsedge tuber production 50 percent and shoot populations 96 percent; there were no differences among the treatments for purple nutsedge. 

 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Polyethylene mulch can be an important component of a yellow nutsedge management system, while other factors will need to be explored for successful management of purple nutsedge.

 

develop and demonstrate technologies for excluding, detecting, and mitigating native and invasive plant disease pests, including integrated pest management (IPM) and areawide approaches, and deliver IPM components and systems to the ARS customer base.

 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Phytophthora infestans, the causal agent of potato late blight is considered to be the most significant pathogen of potatoes worldwide.  An increase in severity and aggressiveness of the pathogen has stimulated interest in developing new biological control alternatives.  ARS scientists at Peoria, Illinois, produced and formulated several bacterial strains patented for biological control of Fusarium dry rot which previously suppressed late blight in laboratory potato bioassays.

 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Late blight reduction provided by the biological control treatments ranged from 20 to 90 percent depending on strain and formulation composition.  These results demonstrate the potential of combinations of these bacteria to simultaneously control both late blight and Fusarium dry rot.

 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  White mold caused by Sclerotinia sclerotiorum is an economically devastating disease of numerous broad leaf crops throughout the United States.  ARS scientists at Fargo, North Dakota, coordinate cooperative research to manage this disease in 5 commodity crops (canola, dry bean, pea and lentil, soybean, and sunflower).  Research was conducted at 11 land-grant universities, the National Sunflower Association of Canada and 6 ARS research locations.  Genetic resistance to white mold was developed in canola germplasm at North Dakota State University.  In addition, white mold resistance was discovered in dry bean germplasm at Michigan State University.  This resulted in release of the navy bean cultivar, ”Seahawk.”  Progress also was made toward the development of plant resistance to Sclerotinia stem rot at the University of Wisconsin.  A simple, inexpensive, and reliable greenhouse method was developed for initial screens of canola to differentiate response to the disease in development of resistant cultivars.  Other research on Sclerotinia stem rot at the University of Illinois was initiated to map resistance genes from plant introductions and initiate the incorporation of these genes into elite soybean germplasm.  Progress was made in mapping quantitative trait loci in three populations developed from crosses between partially resistant soybean plant introductions and partially resistant or susceptible varieties.

 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Highlighted findings include an improved ability to forecast white mold incidence for various crops.  A risk map for canola is currently in use and is being expanded into other crops.  The map has the potential to reduce fungicide costs while maintaining use of fungicides in high risk areas, thus avoiding unacceptable white mold losses.

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Last Modified: 3/1/2005
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