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Genetic Map for Bt Resistance Is Top ARS Postdoc Award
By Tara Weaver-Missick
December 17, 1999
WASHINGTON, Dec. 17--Agricultural Research Service entomologist Douglas V. Sumerford has won an agency award for his research proposal to develop a genetic map to help identify insects that are becoming resistant to the natural insecticide Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt).
Sumerford and his colleagues at the Southern Insect Management Research Unit in Stoneville, Miss., have been monitoring insect populations in Bt-formulated crops that have been genetically modified to include pest resistance, making them an alternative to synthetic insecticides. Today, Bt crops are a major source of insect control. Over time, however, some insects can develop resistance to Bt and other insecticides, meaning more chemicals must be applied to achieve control.
Sumerford won the T. W. Edminster Award for the top-ranked proposal out of 50 proposals selected by the Agricultural Research Service for its 2000 Postdoctoral Research Associate Program. The program provides postdocs an opportunity to work closely with an experienced researcher in their field. At the same time, postdocs get a chance to perform valuable research to help solve an agricultural problems.
“The postdoctoral program helps us to allocate funds to critical research areas,” said ARS Administrator Floyd P. Horn. “It’s tough picking a few, since all of the proposals are excellent and focus on solving key problems.”
ARS has allocated $4 million to fund 50 projects selected from a list of 350 submissions. Each ARS scientist whose proposal was accepted will receive $80,000 to hire a postdoc for two years of high-priority research.
Aside from Sumerford’s, other top proposals were from:
- Amy O. Charkowski with ARS’ Western Regional Research Center in Albany, Calif., to identify Salmonella enterica genes expressed by bacteria on plant tissue.
- Curtis P. Van Tassell at ARS’ Gene Evaluation and Mapping Laboratory in Beltsville, Md., to develop tools for mapping certain genes in dairy cattle.
- Camille M. Steber with the ARS Wheat Genetics, Quality Physiology and Disease Research Unit in Pullman, Wash., to develop a gene-tagging system to simplify cloning of wheat mutants.
- John P. Helgeson at ARS’ Plant Disease Resistance Research Unit in Madison, Wis., to map and clone a gene for resistance to potato late blight.
- Theodore H. Elsasser with ARS’ Growth Biology Laboratory in Beltsville, Md., to determine the genetic basis for disease susceptibility in food animals.
Contact: Edward B. Knipling, Associate Administrator, ARS, Washington, D.C., phone (202) 720-3656, fax (202) 720-5427.