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Hot Research Topics 2006

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A collection of articles from Agricultural Research magazine featuring research conducted at the Henry A. Wallace Beltsville Agricultural Research Center.
Agricultural Research is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's science magazine, published monthly by the Agricultural Research Service and also available electronically.

Agricultural Research Service Information Staff's Image Gallery - a complimentary source of high quality digital photographs

Food Safety/Security

Mycologist Lisa Castlebury, Photo by Stephen AusmusOur scientists respond to international agricultural problems that affect the United States - Most of the time when you think of scientists solving problems, you picture months or years of experiments and study. But sometimes ARS scientists are called on to be firefighters-helping cool down international agricultural hot spots that are critical to the United States and the world.

On December 26, 2004, the freighter Yarmouth was stuck dockside in B?jaia, Algeria, unable to unload 18,600 tons of U.S. durum wheat because the Algerian government feared the shipment was infected with Karnal bunt, a contagious fungus that infects wheat.
Agricultural Research magazine, May 2006 Complete Article


Chemists using a flow cytometer, Photo by Stephen AusmusPlant Compounds Inhibit Blood Clotting - After screening hundreds of phytochemicals found in a variety of plants, an ARS scientist has identified, characterized, and synthesized two potentially heart-healthy natural compounds.

These compounds, either in foods or as dietary supplements, may be important for alleviating the symptoms of heart disease related to blood clots. Rigorous testing and regulatory approval is prerequisite.
Agricultural Research magazine, January 2006 Complete Article


Plant pathologist Marcial Pastor-Corrales inoculates bean plants , Photo by Peggy GrebIncreasing Disease Resistance in Common Beans - Anthracnose, rust, bean common mosaic, and common blight are among the world's most economically significant bean diseases. The brown cankers, rust-colored spores, mottled leaves, and lemon-yellow lesions that plague afflicted plants can foreshadow obliteration of an entire crop.

In the ARS Vegetable Laboratory of the Plant Sciences Institute in Beltsville, Maryland, Pastor-Corrales is breeding beans to improve genetic resistance to these diseases-with great success. He plans to extend his techniques soon to combat a new disease threatening the nation's common beans: Asian soybean rust.
Agricultural Research magazine, June 2006 Complete Article

Nutritionist Shanthy Bowman, Photo by Stephen AusmusIn the Battle of the Bulge, Lifestyle Can't Be Overlooked - Being overweight or obese continues to be linked with being at a higher risk of developing any of a number of chronic diseases. Because obesity intervention can lead to disease prevention, scientific findings about activities that lead to normal body weight are important.

ARS nutritionist Shanthy Bowman recently contributed to a new book on key findings worldwide from the field of obesity research. The book is called "Body Mass Index: New Research," by Nova Science Publishers. Bowman's work appears in the chapter "Dietary and Lifestyle Practices of Normal Weight and Overweight U.S. Adults."
Agricultural Research magazine, March 2006 Complete Article

Insect Pests

Berries and leaves of American beautyberry, Photo by Charles T. BrysonFolk Remedy Yields Mosquito-Thwarting Compound - Regional wisdom once imparted by a Mississippi grandfather has led ARS scientists to isolate a natural compound that in laboratory tests was effective in warding off mosquito bites.

The efficacy of the isolated compound-called "callicarpenal"-was affirmed through tests simulating human skin. But these results may not have been a surprise in northeastern Mississippi as long as a century ago, once the source of the callicarpenal was revealed.
Agricultural Research magazine, February 2006 Complete Article

Animal Heath

Photo by Stephen Ausmus: Dairy scientists examine milk somatic cell counts and bacterial growth (ARS Photo Gallery Image Number D372-22)New Mastitis Treatment May Offer Alternative to Antibiotics - A new weapon could be on tap for fighting bacteria that cause mastitis, an inflammatory udder disease of dairy cows costing around $2 billion annually in animal and milk-production losses.

In trials at ARS's Bovine Functional Genomics Laboratory, Beltsville, Maryland, scientists Max Paape and Douglas Bannerman showed that injecting the cows' mammary glands with the sugar Poly-x reduced mastitis infections at about one-twelfth the cost of antibiotics.
Agricultural Research magazine, February 2006 Complete Article