Space Flight Didn't Crack Moth's Adaptive Armor
Not even a ride on the space shuttle disrupts the reproductive cycle of the
gypsy moth. At least that's the preliminary finding from a joint study by ARS
and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Last October, 8,000 moth
eggs rocketed into space for 2 weeks aboard the shuttle Endeavour, ARS
entomologist Robert Bell was seeking clues on how gravity, acceleration,
weightlessness, and other factors might disrupt the diapause stage of the
hardy, destructive forest pest. During diapause, the eggs stop developing and
"hibernate" over winter. In spring, immature moths emerge from eggs
and feed voraciously on leaves of oaks and many other trees. Endeavour's eggs
hatched normally on their return, confirming that the insects are highly
resistant to stress, says Bell. "Insects have a remarkable capacity to
adapt to very diverse and extreme environmental conditions," he says.
After all, they've had 300 million years to evolve genetic mechanisms to cope
with climate changes and other stresses.
Robert A. Bell, USDA-ARS Insect Neurobiology and Hormone Laboratory,
Beltsville, Maryland, phone (301) 504-8015.
EPA Okays Biofungicides From ARS Research
Early this year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency registered ASPIRE
and BIO-SAVE-11, the first two postharvest biofungicides for the U.S. market.
Both products are from technology developed by ARS and licensed to private
industry. In the products, either a yeast or a bacterium serves as a natural
control for rot-causing fungi. Ecogen Corp. of Longhorne, Pennsylvania,
produces ASPIRE. Its Candida oliophila yeast controls postharvest rot of
apple and citrus. EcoScience Corp. of Worcester, Massachusetts, makes
BIO-SAVE-11. It contains Pseudomonas syringae, a bacterium that fights
storage rots of apple, pear, and citrus.
J. Janisiewicz, USDA-ARS
Fruit Research Laboratory; Kearneysville, West Virginia, phone (304)
ARS Research Summaries on the Internet
The text of ARS' four-times-a-year compilation of research news can now be
accessed via the Gopher server of the National Agricultural Library. The
library became part of ARS during the recent USDA reorganization. Each issue of
"Quarterly Report of Selected Research Projects" contains about sixty
100- to 200-word summaries. They are grouped by topic, such as human nutrition,
crops, animals, biocontrol, and new products. The "Into the
Marketplace" section highlights ARS patent licenses and cooperative
R&D agreement (CRADA) with industry. To view or download the quarterly,
point your Gopher client to gopher.nalusda.gov. From the NAL Gopher's main
menu, choose "Other Agricultural Publications." In the following
menu, you can select specific issues and sections of the quarterly.
Note: Publication of the
Quarterly ended with the issue
for October-December 2000.
Bacterial Sugars Taste Sweet to Industry
Quest International of Sarasota, Florida, and ARS have a CRADA to produce
special dextransnatural sugarsfor food processing and industrial
use. Leuconostoc bacteria make dextrans. These sugars might replace
costly plant gums as binding agents, emulsifiers, and stabilizers. ARS
scientists are breeding Leuconostoc strains in a hunt for new, useful
dextrans. Quest will evaluate their commercial potential. One candidate may
find use as an artificial, low-calorie sweetener.
Chemistry and Engineering Research Unit, Albany, California, phone (510)
Hessian Fly Could Meet Its Match in Resistant Wheat
Soft red winter wheat will soon have new resistance to its most damaging
insect foe, Hessian fly. At least one fly biotype has adapted to survive on
formerly resistant cultivars. Recently, however, scientists with ARS, Purdue
University, and the University of Florida cooperated to develop five new
resistant lines for the East and South. Breeders can use the lines to develop
cultivars for farmers. The warm southeastern climate supports up to six
generations of Hessian flies each year.
"Spray-on" Bugs for Biocontrol
Under a CRADA, ARS and Smucker Manufacturing Co. of Harrisburg, Oregon, will
develop a sprayer and adhesive to gently glue eggs of lacewings and other
helpful insects onto plant leaves. Hungry young lacewings hatch from eggs to
gobble pests such as aphids, whiteflies, leafhoppers, mites, and scales. An ARS
scientist developed the technology. It offers a way to expand use of natural
alternatives to chemical insecticides for agricultural and horticultural crops.
Fruit and Tree Nut Research Laboratory, Byron, Georgia, phone (478)
"Science Update" was published in the
June 1995 issue of
Agricultural Research magazine.