Ag Scientists Garner Federal Tech-Transfer
April 21, 1999
SALT LAKE CITY, April 21--Six
scientists from Agricultural Research
Service laboratories in Alabama, California, Florida and Maryland today
will receive 1999 Awards for Excellence in Technology Transfer from the
Federal Laboratory Consortium,
meeting here this week.
The FLC is honoring 15 federal scientific teams and individuals at its
annual meeting. The consortium, a network of more than 700 federal research
laboratories, helps move technologies from these labs into the marketplace.
"The Federal Laboratory Consortium is recognizing six of our scientists
for their research and accomplishments in transferring new technology to
industry. The scientists' efforts are leading to new vaccines for poultry and
catfish, a new fruit-fly lure and a new system for safeguarding the quality of
pistachios," said Floyd P. Horn. Based in Washington, D.C., Horn is
administrator of ARS, the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's chief scientific agency.
A trade group in Alabama and companies in five states--California, Delaware,
Missouri, Oregon and Texas--and in Japan have licensed ARS technology or
entered into cooperative research and development agreements (CRADAs) with ARS
as a result of the scientists' work.
Horn said discoveries by ARS microbiologist
Hyun S. Lillehoj
in Beltsville, Md., "should lead to more effective vaccines against
poultry diseases such as coccidiosis. Worldwide, this disease annually costs
poultry producers an estimated $600 million." Lillehojs
laboratory-built molecules for detecting natural immunity in chickens are
licensed to Chemicon
International, Inc., Temecula, Calif.
Other molecules she built reveal potentially vulnerable coccidia proteins.
These are now being investigated--as possible targets of a new
vaccineunder a CRADA with a poultry vaccine company. In other work, her
CRADA with Novus International, Inc.,
St. Louis, Mo., may yield a new approach for vaccinating day-old chicks against
coccidiosis. Lillehoj's CRADA with
Nippon Zeon, Inc.,
Kanagawa-Ken, Japan, may result in a biotech-based tactic for vaccinating the
birds against that disease and others.
Microbiologist Phillip H.
Klesius and molecular biologist Craig A. Shoemaker with ARS in Auburn,
Ala., invented a safe, effective vaccine for protecting channel catfish against
enteric septicemia, or ESC. This bacterial disease causes losses of up to $50
million annually to U.S. catfish farmers.
"The vaccine is expected to reduce growers reliance on
antibiotics that might otherwise end up in water supplies or the food
chain," Horn said. Klesius and Shoemaker conducted tests of the vaccine
under a CRADA with the Alabama Catfish Producers, Montgomery, Ala. The work led
the way to a CRADA and exclusive license for the vaccine with
InterVet, Inc., Millsboro, Del.
Chemist Robert R. Heath with ARS in Miami, Fla., developed a new attractant
for use in the U.S. and abroad to detect and monitor potential infestations of
Mediterranean and Mexican fruit flies--before populations of these crop pests
have a chance to build up.
"The attractant has been tested in the U.S. and in more than a dozen
countries, for use in survey traps, for example," Horn said. "States
like California and Florida run survey traps year-round for early detection of
these flies. They can infest more than 200 different fruit and vegetable crops
and can cost millions of dollars to eradicate."
CONSEP, Inc., of Bend, Ore., and Plato
Industries, Inc., Houston, Tex., have licenses to manufacture the attractant,
In Albany Calif., ARS chemist Thomas F. Schatzki and agricultural engineer
Thomas C. Pearson developed an automated system that packinghouses can use to
find--and remove from their production lines--pistachios containing aflatoxin,
a contaminant. The teams high-speed, digital-signal-processing software
and hardware are linked to sorters equipped with digital image cameras instead
of conventional color sensors.
"This system allows highly accurate, real-time sorting of the nuts.
That reduces losses from sorting errors, ensures edibility and increases
marketability of the pistachiosespecially in countries with stringent
aflatoxin standards," Horn said. Prototypes are being tested at a major
pistachio processing plant in central California.