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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

News from the Southeast Area

Agency Accomplishments


Dr. Agnes Rimando of the USDA, ARS, Natural Products Utilization Research Unit in Oxford, MS will be awarded the Kenneth A. Spencer Award, the most prestigious award of the American Chemical Society for agricultural and food chemistry.  The award will be bestowed at the 2016 Spencer Award Banquet in Kansas City, KS in September, 2016, and she will be further recognized by an Awards Symposium at the national ACS meeting in Philadelphia in August, 2016. She is most recognized for her discovery of the health benefits of

pterostilbene in the food supply.


Dr. Peter Balint-Kurti of the USDA, ARS, Plant Science Research Unit, Raleigh, NC will be the 2016 recipient of the Ruth Allen Award from the American Phytopathological Society.  The Ruth Allen Award “honors individuals who have made an outstanding, innovative research contribution that has changed, or has the potential to change, the direction of research in any field of plant pathology”.  It is a major award of APS.  The award will be presented to Dr. Balint-Kurti at the APS Annual Meeting, July 30-August 3, in Tampa, FL.


Press Releases:


July 14, 2016, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Research Entomologist, Juan Morales Ramos of the Biological Control of Pests Research Unit in Stoneville, MS was featured in The New Food Economy.  The article is titled, “When will insects be more than a novelty protein?”


Stakeholder Announcements:


Reports: July 21, 2016, Mr. Atsuya Sugarwara, Director of Food and Industrial Biotransformation of the Huvepharma Company, will visit Southern Regional Research Center, New Orleans, LA on Thursday, July 21, 2016. He has visited the Center before as an employee of Amano Enzymes.  His new company focuses on food applications such as enzymes, functional peptides and oligosaccharides and also have some new projects requiring fermentation (such as value addition from food residue/waste or bio energy, but not bio ethanol). Furthermore, his company is looking for partners who require scale-up or commercial production of the products used by fermentation.  Huvepharma is equipped with different sizes of fermenters as well as a set of downstream processes, having factories located in Bulgaria.


Important Events for the Upcoming Week  


July 22, 2016, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Research Soil Scientist, Dan Pote and Research Animal Scientist, Joan Burke of the Dale Bumpers Small Farms Research Center, Booneville, AR will host the National Association of County Ag Agents for a tour of the Center, including the beef cattle and sheep research and the soil nutrient research.


Outreach and Professional Activities:

August 2, 2016 Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Plant Molecular Geneticist, Tim Rinehart of the Southern Horticultural Research Unit in Poplarville, MS will present a talk titled “An update on Hydrangea macrophylla genomics progress using next generation sequencing methods” at the Third International Symposium on Woody Ornamentals of the Temperate Zone in Minneapolis, Minnesota.


August 2, 2016, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Director of the National Sedimentation Laboratory (NSL), Martin Locke of Oxford, MS will host the Executive Director and a Principal Researcher of the Future Technology Division, Korea Water Resources Corporation (K-water).  Discussions will focus on integrated water resources management, multi-regional water supply, waterfront development, and renewable energy.  The NSL will also host a seminar presented by the scientists which is open to the public.


August 8, 2016, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) employees of the National Soil Dynamics Laboratory (NSDL), Auburn, AL will host a small group from Albania. The group is traveling to Auburn University through the USDA/FAS Cochran Fellowship Program: Cochran Program for Albania Agricultural Extension. The members of the group are working to “develop a modern extension system and enhance agricultural sustainability and food security in Albania” by providing extension managers with innovative methods and knowledge. While at Auburn University, they will learn about cooperative extension in the U.S. and in Alabama. The NSDL will be one of their tour stops. Plant Physiologist, Steve Prior, will provide an overview of USDA-ARS and the NSDL. Agronomist, Kip Balkcom, Agricultural Economist, Leah Duzy, Agricultural Engineer, Ted Kornecki, and Weed Scientist, Andrew Price, will provide information on research being conducted by the Conservation Systems Research (CSR) Unit. The group will take a tour of the facility and will be introduced to machinery used in conservation systems in Alabama.


August 8-11, 2016, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Research Chemist, Agnes Rimando of the Natural Products Utilization Research Unit in Oxford, MS will give an invited presentation entitled  “Separation and Identification of Bioactive Compounds” at the 2016 Annual Conference of the American Society for Horticultural Science to be held in Atlanta, GA.


August 11, 2016, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Research Animal Scientist, Joan Burke of the Dale Bumpers Small Farms Research Center, Booneville, AR received the Southeast Region Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer Award, “Control of Internal Parasites in Sheep and Goats”. Other members of her team are Drs. Jim Miller, Louisiana State University, Tom Terrill, Fort Valley State University, Ray Kaplan, University of Georgia, and Jorge Mosjidis, retired from Auburn University, all founding members of the American Consortium for Small Ruminant Parasite Control. Dr. Burke will attend the awards luncheon in Charleston, SC.


August 11, 2016, 2016, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists along with USDA-NRCS, and the USEPA have been selected as the recipient of the Southeast Regional 2016 Interagency Partnership Award by the Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer (FLC) in recognition of the work regarding “By-product Gypsum to Reduce Runoff Pollution and Improve Water Quality”.  The FLC is a chartered organization mandated by Congress to promote, educate and facilitate technology transfer among more than 300 federal laboratories, research centers and agencies. The award will be presented at the Awards Luncheon of the Joint Midwest-Southeast Regional Meeting of FLC on August 11, 2016 in Charleston, SC.  The ARS individuals specifically named for their contributions for the award include Dr. H. Allen Torbert and Dr. Dexter B. Watts, National Soil Dynamics Laboratory, Auburn, AL; Dr. Martin Locke and Dr. Michael B Jenkins, Natural Sedimentation Laboratory, Oxford, MS; Dr. Dinku M. Endale, Southeast Watershed Research Laboratory, Tifton, GA; Dr. Rufus L. Chaney, Crop Systems and Global Change Laboratory, Beltsville, MD; Dr. Harry Schomberg, Sustainable Agricultural Systems Laboratory, Beltsville, MD; and Dr. Ray B. Bryant, Pasture System and Watershed Management Research Unit, University Park, PA.


July 30 – August 3, 2016, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Research Plant Pathologist, Hamed Abbas of the Biological Control of Pests Research Unit in Stoneville, MS and currently the Acting RL for the Subtropical Horticulture Research Station in Miami, FL will attend the American Phytopathological Society Annual Meeting in Tampa, FL.  Dr. Abbas will present, “Understanding reservoirs:  tracking Aspergillus populations in air, soil, foliage and the reproductive organs of Bt and non-Bt corn”.  The attendees expected include over 1000 fellow scientists from universities and ARS, as well as growers, industries and shareholders from around the world.


July 30 – August 3, 2016, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Research Plant Pathologist, Yulin Jia with the Dale Bumpers National Rice Research Center in Stuttgart, AR will present an invited talk on “Development of controlled high throughput and user friendly assays for host responses to sheath blight pathogen” in a symposium titled “Promising phenotyping efforts for understanding genetic and molecular bases of plant disease resistance” at 2016 American Phytopathological Society meeting that will be held in Tampa, FL.


August 4 – 6, 2016, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Research Animal Scientist, Joan Burke and Agricultural Science Technician, Erin Wood of the Dale Bumpers Small Farms Research Center, Booneville, AR will attend the Katahdin Hair Sheep International Expo in Cookeville, TN making presentations, “Parasites 101 – Myth Busting” and “Parasites 201 – The Future” and conduct ultrasound on lambs demonstrating differences between phenotypes and genotypes for back fat thickness and muscle depth. The audience will include sheep producers from around the U.S., Mexico and Canada.


July 23 – August 6, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Research Leader, Ariel Szogi of the Coastal Plains, Soil, Water, and Plant Research Center in Florence, SC was selected to participate as a Fulbright Specialist in Agriculture grant at the State University of Western Parana (UNIOESTE), Cascavel, PR, Brazil. As part of the grant, Dr. Szogi’s  participation will include the following three activities: 1) Present a series of four lectures for graduate students as part of a course on animal waste management that will integrate scientific knowledge and experience in the U.S. on advanced animal waste handling and treatment technologies for environmental protection and sustainable livestock production (first week); 2) Visit two institutions that have waste management cooperation projects with UNIOESTE faculty: EMBRAPA Swine and Poultry National Research Center, and Cibiogas (second week); and 3) Present two technical seminars on management of effluents from swine production systems (also in the second week) to an audience that will include graduate students, faculty, agronomists, and representatives from government and industry.


July 24-27, 2016, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Research Hydrologist, Michele L. Reba of the Delta Water Management Research Unit, Jonesboro, AR will attend and present as a co-author with a post-doctoral researcher, “Spatial variability of nutrients and sediment in two agricultural watersheds” at the 71st Soil and Water Conservation Society Annual Conference in Louisville, KY.


July 24 – 27, 2016, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Postdoctoral Research Associate, Lindsey Yasarer, of the Water Quality and Ecology Research Unit in Oxford, MS will present a paper titled “Evaluation of Conservation Practice Impacts on the USDA-ARS CEAP Beasley Lake Watershed, Mississippi using AnnAGNPS” at the Soil and Water Conservation Society Annual Conference in Louisville, KY.  


July 24-28, 2016, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Research Entomologist, David Shapiro-Ilan of the Southeastern Fruit and Tree Nut Research Laboratory in Byron, GA will attend the

49th Annual Meeting of the Society for Invertebrate Pathology where he will Chair a symposium entitled “Harnessing Metabolites from Entomopathogenic Nematode Symbiotic Bacteria for Broad Use”, present a paper “Curative Control of the Peachtree Borer Using Entomopathogenic Nematodes” and a poster “Self-Defense: Insect Pupal Cells with Antibiotic Properties”, and serve as Chair of the Society’s Nematode Division.  The meeting will be held in Tours, France.


July 24-28, 2016, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Research Leader and Agronomist, Seth Dabney will attend the Soil and Water Conservation Society in Louisville, KY.


July 20-22, 2016, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Research Chemist Isabel Lima, Commodity Utilization Research Unit, Southern Regional Research Center, New Orleans, LA has been invited to attend the Farm Bio3 4th Annual Summit taking place at the Eastern Regional Research Center in Wyndmoor, PA.


News Clips:

ARS:  Athens, Ga. - Poultry disease is an international issue and developing animals resistant to disease may be one of the long-term solutions.  University of Georgia researchers Steven Stice and Franklin West in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and Claudio Afonso at the Southeast Poultry Research Laboratory of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service have spent the last four years gathering data that could make the process a reality.

The team used a technology platform called shRNA—single strands of RNA that fold back on themselves—to selectively stop the production of nucleic acids that cause disease, such as the Newcastle disease virus.  Dr. Afonso was responsible for the design of the products used to reduce virus replication (gene specific shRNA) and together with his team developed methods to conduct the challenges with virulent viruses and evaluate the results.  Initial experiments were conducted at UGA and final testing and evaluation was done at the BSL3 facilities of U.S. National Poultry Research Center in Athens.

The research team's tooling process for enhancing disease resistance, published recently in the Journal of the International Alliance for Biological Standardization, is potentially a much better way of disease protection than vaccination because it introduces permanent genetic resistance that is transmittable to a bird's offspring. In contrast, many vaccines provide protection for a given period of time and must be re-administered periodically.

Multiple types of animals and disease could be targeted. This technology could also be applied to avian influenza and swine flu.  To read the full story, "Delayed Newcastle disease virus replication using RNA interference to target the nucleoprotein," is available at


ARS News Articles

A New Vaccine to Fight Poultry Diseases
Mar 20, 2015
A New Spanish Peanut Variety for Consumers, Growers
Feb 24, 2015
Killing Fish Egg Fungus with a Disinfectant
Feb 18, 2015
USDA Research Yields Cotton Resistant to Top 20 Ag Threat
Feb 12, 2015
ARS Study Shows No Damage to Soils from Grazing of Cover Crops
Feb 11, 2015
Last Modified: 7/21/2016