New Soft Wheat Fights Powdery Mildew
A new breeding stock for soft red winter wheat fought off all 10 strains of
powdery mildew tested against it in the laboratory. Previously, fighting 8 of
10 was the best any wheat could do against this fungal disease that costs
growers $2 to $3 million a year and strikes worst at soft red winter wheat.
This type of wheatgrown east of the Mississippiis made into flour
commonly used by bakeries to give cookies and cakes a delicate texture.
Scientists at ARS, North Carolina State University, and the University of
Georgia developed the new breeding stock, named NC 97BGTAB-10. Its genes for
resisting powdery mildew come from hardy, wild Middle Eastern ancestors of
modern wheat. Commercial seed companies can use the new breeding stock to build
mildew resistance into their farmer-favored, bakery-bound soft red wheat
Steven Leath, USDA-ARS
Research Unit, Raleigh, North Carolina; phone (919) 515-6819.
Nature-Based Weapon Against Salmonella Is a Top Product of '98
Popular Science magazine named a new commercial product from ARS
research as one of its "100 Best of What's New for 1998." ARS
scientists developed the product to reduce Salmonella contamination in
chickens. It was subsequently licensed by MS BioScience in Madison, Wisconsin,
and is sold as PREEMPT. The product inhibits Salmonella in chickens'
intestines by introducing a blend of 29 live, nonharmful bacteria naturally
present in healthy adult chickens. The mix can be sprayed in a mist over newly
hatched chicks to give them the same level of Salmonella resistance that
develops in an older bird.
In March 1998, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved PREEMPT for
commercial use. This was the first FDA approval of a bacterial mix as a type of
animal drug known as a competitive exclusion product. PREEMPT can help
producers reduce Salmonella risks. But proper food storage, handling,
and preparation remain essential to guard against pathogens. An estimated 2
million cases of Salmonella poisoning occur in the United States each
year. Most exposure is from raw or undercooked meat, poultry, milk, and eggs.
Donald Corrier, USDA-ARS
Animal Protection Research Laboratory, 2881 F&B Rd., College Station,
TX 77845; phone (409) 260-9484.
Baiting the Mexican Fruit Fly
ARS scientists have designed a new chemical lure for Mexican fruit flies,
important quarantine pests. Female Mexican fruit flies lay eggs in at least 36
different fruits. Better lures and traps will enable action agencies to
detectand thwartinvasions sooner. The flies periodically cross the
Mexican border and infest U.S. fruit orchards, most often in the Lower Rio
Grande Valley of Texas. But last summer, they turned up in San Diego County in
California. In the United States, they could potentially cost $1.4 billion a
year in export sales, crop losses, and treatment expenses.
The new lure resembles the pest's natural protein food source. Its three
components are ammonium acetate, putrescine, and methyl butanol. In field
trials in Guatemala, ARS scientists compared sticky cylindrical traps baited
with the new lure to glass McPhail traps baited with a standard liquid protein
lure. The new lure caught nearly twice as many Mexican fruit flies as the
standard one. It was also more effective at capturing both males and females.
ARS has filed for patent protection. Earlier, the scientists developed a
Mediterranean fruit fly lure now approved for use in eradication programs in
Robert R. Heath,
USDA-ARS Center for Medical, Agricultural,
and Veterinary Entomology, Gainesville, Florida; phone (352) 374-5735.
More Dietary Kudos for Oatrim?
Oatrim is a powdered, soluble oat fiber that an ARS researcher in Peoria,
Illinois, originally developed as a natural, low-calorie fat substitute in
foods. But Oatrim may hold other benefits. In Beltsville, Maryland, volunteers
in ARS diet studies consumed about one-half cup daily of the powdery substance
added to foods. Researchers found evidence that Oatrim acted as an antioxidant
for fatty acids. This means it protected fatty acids crucial to cell membranes
and other cell components. The findings also suggest Oatrim results in more
short-chain fatty acids being produced in the colon. These fatty acids may help
protect colon cells from cancer and also reduce risk of heart disease.
In earlier studies by the Beltsville researchers, Oatrim reduced body
weight, blood lipids, and systolic blood pressure. Further, it improved glucose
tolerance. The researchers say Oatrim's antioxidant function comes from
something other than its soluble beta glucans fibers, known to lower
cholesterol. As a fat substitute, Oatrim is used in some commercial baked goods
and cheeses. Labels identify it as Oatrim or hydrolyzed oat flour. It is also
used as a thickener in a commercial skim milk sold in East Coast markets under
the brand name Oatri-Slim.
Judith Hallfrisch or
Kay Behall, USDA-ARS
Beltsville Human Nutrition Research
Center, Beltsville, Maryland; phone (301) 504-9014.
"Science Update" was published in the
March 1999 issue of Agricultural