Making healthier nutrition choices has now gotten easier.
A searchable version of USDA's National Nutrient Database is now available
free of charge for download to personal computers. A portable version
of the database has been available since October 2002 for users of personal
digital assistants (PDAs). The availability now extends to those with
personal computers. After an initial download from the USDA web site,
users can search for nutrient information for more than 6,000 food items
in any of 22 food-group categories. The consumer can also modify the
portion to suit individual needs.
Researchers worked with cooperators at HealtheTech, Inc.,
of Golden, Colorado, under a cooperative research and development agreement
to provide this downloadable application. The PC version requires 70
megabytes of disk space and an operating system of Windows 98SE or later.
The PDA version runs on the Palm operating system.
To download the nutrient database program, go to www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp.
Under the red "Search the Nutrient Database" label, click
on "Download Software."
Jesus, USDA-ARS Nutrient
Data Laboratory, Beltsville, Maryland; phone (301) 504-0691.
A New Chickpea for Your Salads
Spring 2003 saw the first commercial planting of Sierra, a kabuli-type
chickpeathe kind served at salad bars and used in ethnic dishes.
This great-tasting chickpea offers a low-fat source of fiber, protein,
iron, vitamins A and C, and folic acid.
Sierra was developed from crosses made between Dwelley, an earlier
release, and chickpea germplasm obtained from Mexico and central Asia
via the International Center for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas
in Aleppo, Syria. Its high seed yield and resistance to Ascochyta
blight should prove economically profitable to growers.
Data from field trials indicate that Sierra blooms in 65 days, grows
to 21 inches high, and reaches crop maturity in 110 days. It is relatively
easy to harvest by combine, since it grows upright and can be cut 6
inches off the ground. Field tests were conducted in eastern Washington,
northern Idaho, North Dakota, and South Dakota. In 8 out of 10 trials,
Sierra produced higher seed yields than 2 industry varieties. During
4 years of tests at 3 Palouse sites, Sierra's average yearly seed yield
was 1,348 pounds per acre versus 1,274 for Dwelley. Field tests conducted
in California also showed good results. ARS
has filed for a Plant Variety Protection Certificate.
Frederick J. Muehlbauer,
USDA-ARS Grain Legume
Genetics and Physiology Research Unit, Pullman, Washington; phone
Beyond DEET: New-Age Mosquito Control
West Nile virus (WNV) and St. Louis encephalitis (SLE) have become
significant health concerns. Although most people who become infected
with either disease show no symptoms or only mild ones, WNV killed 284
people and made more than 4,000 clinically ill in the United States
last year. And on average, 128 cases of SLE are reported annually.
One mosquito genus, Culex, has been shown to transmit both WNV
and SLE. ARS scientists have discovered and patented a new baculovirusa
virus specific to arthropods, called CuniNPVthat kills Culex
mosquitoes. Stable and persistent, the virus is a promising candidate
for development as a larvicide. The patent includes a method for transmitting
a virus to the mosquitoes. The baculovirus is activated by mixing with
magnesium. When the mixture is added into any body of water where mosquitoes
breed, the larvae ingest it; the result is 85 to 95 percent kill after
2 to 3 days. There is no harm to other organisms or to the water.
James J. Becnel,
USDA-ARS Center for Medical, Agricultural,
and Veterinary Entomology, Gainesville, Florida; phone (352) 474-5961.
ARS Contributions to Remote Sensing
Nearly 40 years of Agricultural Research Service involvement in remote
sensing research was noted in the June 2003 issue of Photogrammetric
Engineering & Remote Sensing, the journal of the American Society
for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing. Eight detailed articles describe
ARS research on various applications of remote sensing technologies.
Included are findings on remote sensing's use to rapidly map soil properties,
manage crops and estimate yields, and assess water quality and ecosystem
healthespecially of rangelandsas well as to develop and
While supplies last, copies may be requested at no charge from J.L.
Hatfield, USDA-ARS National Soil
Tilth Laboratory, 2150 Pammel Dr., Ames, IA 50011; phone (515) 294-5723.
"Science Update" was published in the October
2003 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.