More about the avian
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Scientists Honored for Tech Transfer Efforts
By Jim Core
January 23, 2004
23--Scientists who developed a diagnostic test for avian influenza and a
faster-growing catfish won the Agricultural
Research Service's top technology transfer awards for 2003. ARS is the
U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief
in-house scientific research agency.
The winners of the research agency's "Outstanding Effort in Technology
Transfer in 2003" are members of research teams. The Avian Influenza Rapid
Diagnostic Test Team includes David L. Suarez, Erika Spackman and Suzanne M.
DeBlois of the ARS Southeast Poultry Research Laboratory in Athens, Ga., and
Dennis A. Senne of USDA's Animal and Plant
Health Inspection Service in Ames, Iowa. The Catfish Genetics Research Team
in Stoneville, Miss., consists of William R. Wolters, Geoffrey C. Waldbieser,
Brian G. Bosworth and Jeffrey T. Silverstein.
"This year's winners continue to show how effective ARS scientists are
in moving technology from the laboratory to the marketplace, where consumers
and industry benefit," said Edward B. Knipling, acting ARS administrator.
He awarded the winners yesterday during a ceremony in New Orleans, La.
Avian influenza, a viral disease with symptoms varying from mild to highly
fatal, is a serious disease of poultry. Outbreaks that occurred in the
northeastern United States during 1983-84 resulted in the destruction of more
than 17 million birds at a cost of nearly $65 million.
The team developed a test based on polymerase chain reaction (PCR), in which
genetic material can be copied and quickly identified. The PCR test was used in
March 2002 to test samples during an outbreak in Virginia. The total cost of
that eradication program was estimated at $160 million. Because the test
allowed faster diagnosis, quarantines of infected farms were issued sooner and
flocks were depopulated faster, which prevented the virus from spreading to
The new catfish line, NWAC103, was named in recognition of the Thad Cochran
National Warmwater Aquaculture Center (NWAC) in Stoneville, where it
was released jointly in 2001 by ARS and the
Mississippi Agricultural and
Forestry Experiment Station. During performance trials, NWAC103 catfish
consumed 10 percent more feed and grew 10 to 20 percent faster than commercial
The catfish industry in the United States has a farm-gate value of about
$409 million, the highest value of any cultured aquatic species. Until the
release of NWAC103, genetic improvement has had little impact on commercial
catfish production. Since its release, NWAC103's popularity has grown, and in
2002 it held 14 percent of the market.
More about Jerry
One other researcher and five
research teams were honored for "Superior Effort in Technology Transfer in
2003" at yesterday's ceremony. They are:
- Jerry F. Miller, geneticist, ARS
Unit, Fargo, ND, for creation of a sunflower seed that yields oil with
optimal frying performance, superior taste and excellent health benefits. By
2002, NuSun accounted for 40 percent of total sunflower seed oil production in
the United States.
processed foods team
- Tara McHugh, food technologist, and Charles Huxsoll, retired scientist,
ARS Processed Foods
Research Unit, Albany, Calif., for developing fruit purees to make
nutritious and shelf-stable restructured products, including edible films that
are used to wrap other products. One of their two patents was licensed and
resulted in a pear bar product now on the market.
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- Thomas A. Casey and Mark A. Rasmussen, microbiologists, ARS
National Animal Disease Center, and
Jacob W. Petrich, chemistry professor, Iowa
State University, Ames, IA, for a patented method to detect fecal
contamination on carcasses during the slaughter process. The Carcass Inspection
System and a hand-held version of this technology, which entered the market in
2002, reduce food safety issues associated with fresh meat.
- Phosphorus Indexing Program Group, various locations. ARS scientists
joined researchers from other government agencies and universities in
developing and implementing the Phosphorus Index, a management tool to assess
the risk of phosphorus loss from agricultural fields to surface waters. The
index has been used extensively by extension agents to educate farmers on
alternative management practices that benefit water quality.
honey bee research
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- Thomas J. Trout, agricultural engineer, Sally M. Schneider, plant
pathologist, and Husein Ajwa, ARS Water Management Research
Laboratory, Parlier, Calif., for a safe alternative to methyl bromide. This
soil fumigant, scheduled to be banned because it damages the earth's ozone
layer, is currently used to disinfest agricultural soils of pathogens,
nematodes and weeds. The team demonstrated that mixing soil fumigants in water
and applying them through subsurface irrigation systems would help preserve the
production of strawberries and other high-value fruit and vegetables.