Our Survey Says: What America Eats
In 1995, some 6,000 people will be interviewed about what they ate on two
different days, during ARS' continuing survey, "What We Eat in
America." The interviews are part of a 3-year survey begun last year. Two
of the survey's uses: targeting nutrition education and determining how well
Americans understand nutrition labels. Previous surveys showed that fat intake
has decreased from 40 to 34 percent of total calories in the average diet since
1977. But that's still shy of today's recommended 30 percent maximum.
Surveys Research Group, 10300 Baltimore Avenue, Maryland, phone (301)
504-0170, fax (301) 504-0376.
Tiber Thwarts Tipburn
From ARS comes a new iceberg lettuce, Tiber, that wards off tipburn. This
disorder strikes when hot weather or too much water or fertilizer makes leaves
grow too fast and run out of calcium. Leaf edges killed by tipburn are
vulnerable to slime-producing bacteria and fungi. Researchers have offered
Tiber to seed companies and breeders for planting in Arizona and California.
Ryder, USDA-ARS U.S. Agricultural Research Station, Salinas, California,
phone (831) 755-2813.
New Link to Artery Narrowing
New evidence links high blood levels of an amino acid, homocysteine, with
artery narrowing in the elderly. The condition can lead to heart disease and
stroke. Researchers found less risk of artery narrowing in people with ample
folate (folic acid) and vitamin B6. The body needs these to convert
homocysteine to useful amino acids and prevent its buildup. People can readily
lower homocysteine through diet. A clinical trial would be required to learn
whether this can reduce heart disease risk, however. The homocysteine study
involved 1,041 men and women still participating in the original Framingham
Heart Study in progress for nearly 50 years. Collaborators are with the
Framingham Heart Study, Boston University, and the ARS-funded Jean Mayer USDA
Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University.
Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts, Boston,
Massachusetts, phone (617) 556-3191.
Hormone Snippet to Kernel: "Don't Sprout!"
Wheat may get turned into pet food instead of breadif untimely rain
makes wheat kernels sprout just before harvest. Now, an ARS plant physiologist
has homed in on how wheat plants order kernels to sproutor not to sprout.
Preharvest sprouting cuts the crop's value by making it unacceptable for bread
flour and other high-quality uses. But the ARS scientist and a chemist with
Canada's National Research Council identified the wheat plant's biochemical
decisionmaker. It's the 7-methyl groupa piece of a plant hormone,
abscisic acid. The discovery may someday help breeders and biotechnologists
develop wheats resistant to preharvest sprouting, which is a problem about 1
year in 5 in the Pacific Northwest. The 7-methyl group, the scientists
speculate, keeps plant enzymes from breaking down proteins and starch in a
kernel's rain-moistened coat.
Kay Simmons was in the USDA-ARS
Genetics, Quality, Physiology, and Disease Research Unit, Pullman,
Washington, phone (509) 335-3632.
CRADA Targets New Bean Virus
ARS and a private company have teamed up in a cooperative research and
development agreement (CRADA) to thwart a new virus in snap beans. Silverleaf
whiteflies, also known as biotype B sweetpotato whiteflies, transmit golden
mosaic virus. First seen in this country in 1993, it wiped out beans in many
south Florida fields in 1994. Through the CRADA with Rogers Seed Co. of Nampa,
Idaho, ARS researchers hope to identify genetic markers. They will use these
easy-to-spot traits to quickly screen many bean lines for natural virus
resistance. This will help breeders speed development of resistant cultivars
Agriculture Research Station, Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, phone (787)
Arboretum Deploys Good Mites Against Bad Ones
Two predatory mites are helping the U.S. National Arboretum cut the use of
chemical pesticide. ARS operates the 444-acre arboretum, located in Washington,
DC. The good mites, Phytoseiulus persimilis and Amblyseius
californicus, gobble two-spotted spider mites and other mites that pester
bonsai, roses, and other plants. The beneficial mites play a big role in the
arboretum's integrated pest management (IPM) program. Among the first of its
kind for landscaping, the program has reduced pesticide use about 75 percent
Aker, USDA-ARS U.S. National Arboretum, Washington, D.C. 20002, phone (202)
"Science Update" was published in the
April 1995 issue of
Agricultural Research magazine.