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ALARC Highlights - Summer/Fall 2012

Featured Recent Accomplishment

Using molecular biology to discover new methods of pest control. The western tarnished plant bug, Lygus hesperus, is an important pest insect of cotton, alfalfa, fruit and vegetable crops, and several emerging biofuel and natural product feedstocks. With a geographic range that stretches from southern Mexico to the southwestern provinces of Canada, Lygus represents one of the most important pests of agriculture in the western US. Current control strategies are limited and rely mainly on insecticides, several of which have broad spectrums of activity and are likely to have negative ecological and environmental ramifications. Reliance on insecticides also increases the likelihood for the evolution of insecticide resistance.


The western tarnished plant bug (Lygus hesperus) is major insect pest of numerous crops grown throughout the western U.S. ALARC scientists within the Pest Management and Biocontrol Research Unit are using molecular tools to uncover novel strategies that are safe and effective against these prolific pests.

Despite its pest status, little is known about the underlying molecular genetics of Lygus bugs. That is, a good understanding of what makes this pest work at the most basic level is unknown. This lack of fundamental knowledge hampers the development of novel control strategies and limits our understanding of perceived "weaknesses" in Lygus physiology that could be exploited for management. To begin to address this deficiency, researchers at the Arid-Land Agricultural Research Center (ALARC) in Maricopa, AZ used "next generation" sequencing technologies to generate a database of genes expressed in adult Lygus. With>1.4 million sequence reads that correspond to 19,742 potential genes, the database represents a comprehensive snapshot of the mRNA transcripts expressed (i.e. "transcriptome").

Among the novel gene targets identified in the database were aquaporins, proteins that help maintain water homeostasis by channeling water and sometimes other solutes across cell membranes. Expression analyses have shown that a number of the Lygus aquaporins are highly prevalent in tissues critical to maintaining water balance such as the gut and Malpighian tubules (tissue analogous to kidneys in vertebrates). ALARC scientists are currently developing methods to specifically interfere with the ability of these proteins to efficiently transport water in these pest insects.


Aquaporins regulate water balance in many organisms, including Lygus. Several Lygus aquaporin proteins are abundant in tissues normally associated with water transport, such as the digestive tissue (midgut) and the nephritic system (Malpighian tubules). ALARC scientists are working to develop new strategies to specifically target water regulation in insect pests.

A large repertoire of stress response proteins, known as heat shock proteins was also found in the database. These heat shock proteins frequently function to help other proteins fold correctly and minimize the deleterious effects of thermal stress on normal cellular function. Comparison of thermal-stressed vs. unstressed Lygus revealed increased expression of several of the heat shock proteins in the stressed population. ALARC researchers are currently exploring the possibility of utilizing these gene sets as markers to understand the distribution of Lygus populations and their adaptation to diverse environmental niches.


Exposing adult L. hesperus to 39C for 6 hours (thermal stress conditions) results in the up-regulation of multiple heat shock proteins (indicated by arrows) compared to adults maintained under normal conditions (25C).

In parallel studies, ALARC researchers are working to understand the molecular components of Lygus olfaction. Like many insects, Lygus utilize their antennae to perceive odorants that describe aspects of their environment such as mate recognition, predators, food source, and sites for egg deposition. Olfactory receptors expressed in antennal neurons are critical components in the detection of these chemical cues. These receptors function as heterodimers composed of a general receptor and a specific receptor that together function as a ?lock? for the odorant ?key?. ALARC researchers recently identified the general receptor in Lygus (Hull et al. 2012) and efforts are currently underway to develop strategies to interfere with the olfactory receptor.

Schematic of insect olfaction. Odorants enter sensilla (little hairs) on antennae via tiny pores. Once inside the sensilla, the odorants are transported through the lymph surrounding the olfactory receptors in the neurons. Two olfactory receptors are necessary for activation - a specific receptor and a common receptor. Odorant binding triggers a signal transduction cascade that results in neuronal firing and brain-centered perception of the odorant, which triggers the appropriate behavioral response.

A. Expression profile of the Lygus "common" olfactory receptor (known as Orco) in various adult tissues ? whole body (B), antennae (A), proboscis (P), legs (L), and heads (H). NT is a no tissue control. The Lygus receptor is predominantly expressed in antennae of both sexes. B. Recombinant overexpression of the Lygus "common" receptor (shown in red) is expressed on the surface of cultured insect cells.

Hull, J.J., Hoffmann, E. J., Perera, O. P. and Snodgrass, G. L. 2012. Identification of the western tarnished plant bug (Lygus hesperus) olfactory co-receptor Orco: Expression profile and confirmation of atypical membrane topology. Archives Insect Biochemistry and Physiology 81: 179-198. (PDF)

Hull, J.J., Geib, S.M., Fabrick, J.A., and Brent, C.S. Sequencing and de novo assembly of the western tarnished plant bug (Lygus hesperus) transcriptome. Submitted to PLoS One 09/27/2012.

Contacts: Jeff Fabrick (, Joe Hull (


Other Recent Accomplishments

Protein marking for arthropod dispersal research. The protein marking procedure is a powerful method for marking insects for ecological studies, but the expense of first-generation vertebrate IgG proteins has limited their use. ARS scientists in Maricopa, AZ found that alternative proteins including egg white (albumin), milk protein (casein), and soy protein (trypsin) are more economical than, and in some cases superior to, the IgG proteins. Research further determined application rates necessary to mark >90% of the resident arthropod population. Application of these alternative markers facilitates large-scale ecological studies that were previously prohibitively expensive, and increases the availability of this marking methodology to a wider range of potential users.

An integrated approach to insecticide resistance monitoring. Pest resistance to insecticides remains a major concern to agricultural producers worldwide. Insecticide resistance monitoring programs generally rely on laboratory bioassays to detect changes in susceptibility of target pest populations, but these assays are often poor indicators of insecticide performance in the field. ARS scientists in Maricopa, AZ, conducted parallel laboratory and field-based bioassays on adults of the sweetpotato whitefly and compared the results to control levels achieved in cantaloupes treated with the systemic insecticide imidacloprid. Mortality was higher in the laboratory systemic uptake bioassay compared with the field-based bioassay, but control in cantaloupes was excellent because the insecticide prevented establishment of immature whiteflies. Results underscore the importance of utilizing a combination of bioassay and field efficacy approaches to support regulatory and control program decisions regarding insecticide performance.

Finalized version 2 of the ICASA data standards. Numerous research applications require integrating data from multiple experiments and locations. However, such integration is often difficult because even with digital files, datasets lack key information and are not organized according to available standards for formatting. The standards developed by the International Consortium for Agricultural Systems Analysis provide a robust framework for describing crop management, environmental conditions and field measurements. ARS scientists at Maricopa, AZ, in collaboration with colleagues at the University of Florida finalized the version 2 standards, the first revision in over 10 years. This revision will allow researchers to exchange data much more efficiently and ensure that experiments are fully characterized for analysis.

Atomic structure of a key enzyme of photosynthesis. Heat stress reduces crop yield by inhibiting a key enzyme of photosynthesis called Rubisco activase. In collaboration with colleagues at Arizona State University, ARS scientists in Maricopa, AZ, used Xray bombardment of protein crystals to determine the three-dimensional structure of Rubisco activase. Information about the structure of this enzyme is being used to gain insights into how the protein can be modified to improve its tolerance to heat. Based on this information, new, more heat tolerant germplasm can be developed to ensure that the next generation of crops will be more tolerant to heat stress.

Development of community resources for cotton genetic improvement. Publically available genetic and genomic resources for transferring the superior fiber qualities of pima cotton to higher yielding upland cotton are limited. In collaboration with scientists at Monsanto Company and New Mexico State University, ARS scientists in New Orleans, LA, College Station, TX, and Maricopa, AZ, registered an interspecific cotton recombinant inbred mapping population with the National Plant Germplasm System. Seed packets for the population were deposited at two ARS germplasm centers, and associated phenotypic and genotypic information were submitted to the public cotton genomics database, CottonGen. Registering this mapping population has increased its accessibility to the global cotton community, thus better facilitating the genetic improvement of fiber quality in upland cotton.

Production of biofuels in the leaves of plants. The demand for plant oils as feedstock for biofuel production is far greater than what agriculture can currently deliver, and novel methods for producing higher amounts of energy-dense oils in plants are needed. Plant oils are typically derived from seeds, but the biomass of a plant is dominated by leaves and stems. Production of even modest amounts of oil in plant leaves could significantly increase the total amount of energy recovered from crops. In collaboration with scientists at the University of North Texas and the University of Guelph, ARS scientists in Maricopa, AZ, have identified a two-protein system in plants cells that regulates the total amount of oil in plant leaves. Disruption of either gene in the model plant Arabidopsis resulted in a 10-fold increase in oil content, providing proof of concept that oil content can be dramatically increased in leaves. These results provide new insight to molecular targets that might be manipulated to increase the total amount of oil, and thus bioenergy, that can be recovered from crop plants.

Accumulation of pharmaceuticals from treated municipal wastewater during groundwater recharge. The accumulation of pharmaceuticals in environments receiving treated municipal wastewater is a growing concern. The accumulation of four pharmaceutically active compounds found in treated effluent was investigated at a groundwater recharge facility by ARS scientists in Maricopa, AZ. Ibuprofen and the antibiotic lincomycin, did not accumulate over a three year period. Caffeine and the anti-seizure medication carbamazepine accumulated over the same period, however, the total accumulated was very small (1 part per billion and 4 parts per billion, respectively). Distribution and accumulation of the pharmaceuticals were related to their specific chemical properties. Distribution was also related to soil chemical and physical properties such as texture and organic carbon content. Results are helping the Town of Gilbert, AZ evaluate the sustainability of their recharge facility.

Irrigation and nitrogen management for camelina. Arid and semi-arid regions of the US have been targeted to produce camelina as a renewable biodiesel energy source. However, information about the crop's water use and irrigation management is unavailable. ARS scientists in Maricopa, AZ quantified camelina water use requirements and crop coefficients, and determined the effects of different irrigation and nitrogen applications on oilseed yields. Results show that the water use requirement of camelina can be much lower than that for traditional crops produced in the area, and that water use can be significantly reduced with little penalty in oil yields. General irrigation scheduling tools and guidelines for camelina were developed to help growers with irrigation management decisions. The research suggests that camelina with its associated water-savings could create opportunities for growers in the arid-west with limited cropping alternatives.

Open-source GIS software for spatial extrapolation of simulation models. Geographic information systems (GIS) are an excellent tool for collection, synthesis, analysis, and interpretation of spatial information collected from agricultural crop-lands. However, we lack well-designed software tools for harnessing the power of GIS to aid decision making for management of water and nitrogen resources for crop production. ARS scientist in Maricopa, AZ developed a suite of open-source software plug-in tools in the Quantum GIS environment that facilitates processing of remote sensing image data and other spatial data layers within distinct spatial management units across a field. The open-source nature of these algorithms will facilitate their distribution through the channels of the parent open-source project: Quantum GIS. These algorithms will be useful for many researchers and practitioners who utilize remote sensing and simulation models to solve spatially-based agricultural and environmental problems.


Recent Journal Publications

Bautista, E., Strelkoff, T., Clemmens, A.J. 2012. Errors in infiltration volume calculations in volume balance models. Journal of Irrigation and Drainage Engineering. 138: 727-735. (PDF)

Bautista, E., Strelkoff, T., Clemmens, A.J. 2012. Improved surface volume estimates for surface irrigation balance calculations. Journal of Irrigation and Drainage Engineering. 138:715-726. (PDF)

Bronson, K.F., Malapati, T.A., Wheeler, C.M., Brown, R.K., Taylor, R.K., Scharf, P.C., Barnes, E.M. 2012. Use of nitrogen calibration ramps and canopy reflectance on farmers' irrigated cotton fields. Soil Science Society of America Journal 76: 1060-1067. (PDF)

Byers, J.A. 2012. Estimating insect flight densities from sticky trap catches and effective flight layers. Journal of Chemical Ecology 38:592-601. (PDF)

Carriere, Y., Goddell, P., Ellers-Kirk, C., Dutilleul, P., Naranjo, S.E., Ellsworth, P.E. 2012. Effects of local and landscape factors on population dynamics of a cotton pest.. PLoS One. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0039862. (PDF)

Chakraborty, M., Kuriata, A.M., Henderson, J.N., Salvucci, M.E., Wachter, R.M., Levitus, M., 2012. Protein oligomerization monitored by fluorescence fluctuation spectroscopy: Self-assembly of rubisco activase. Biophysical Journal 103:949-958. (abstract)

De Boeck, H.J., Kimball, B.A., Miglietta, F., Nijs, I. 2012. Quantification of excess water loss in plant canopies warmed with infrared heating. Global Change Biology. 18:2860-2868. (abstract)

Do Carmo Silva, A., Gore, M., Andrade-Sanchez, P, French, A, Hunsaker, D., Salvucci, M. 2012. Decreased CO2 availability and inactivation of rubisco limit photosynthesis in cotton plants under heat and drought stress in the field. Environmental and Experimental Botany 83: 1-11. (PDF)

Do Carmo Silva, A., Salvucci, M.E. 2012. The temperature response of CO2 assimilation, photochemical activities and rubisco activation in Camelina sativa, a potential bioenergy crop with limited capacity for acclimation to heat stress. Planta, 236: 1433-1445. (PDF)

Fabrick, J.A., Tabashnik, B.E. 2012. Similar genetic basis of resistance to bt toxin cry1ac in boll-selected and diet-selected strains of pink bollworm. PLoS One. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0035658. (PDF)

French, A.N., Alfieri, J.G., Kustas, W.P., Prueger, J.H., Hipps, L.E., Chavez Eguez, J.L., Evett, S.R., Howell, T.A., Gowda, P., Hunsaker, D.J., Thorp, K.R. 2012. Estimation of surface energy fluxes using surface renewal and flux variance techniques over an advective irrigated agricultural site. Advances in Water Resources. DOI:10.1016/j.advwatres.2012.07.007. (PDF)

Guo, W., Maas, S.J., Bronson, K.F. 2012. Relationship between cotton yield and soil electrical conductivity, topography, and landsat imagery. Precision Agriculture. doi:10.1007/s11119-012-9277-2. (abstract)

Hull, J.J., Hoffmann, E. J., Perera, O. P. and Snodgrass, G. L. 2012. Identification of the western tarnished plant bug (Lygus hesperus) olfactory co-receptor Orco: Expression profile and confirmation of atypical membrane topology. Archives Insect Biochemistry and Physiology 81: 179-198. (PDF)

Hunsaker, D.J., French, A.N., Thorp, K.R. 2012. Camelina water use and seed yield response to irrigation scheduling in an arid environment. Irrigation Science. DOI: 10.1007/s00271-012-0368-7. (PDF)

Lee, J.M., Hull, J.J., Kawai, T., Kurihara, M., Tanokura, M., Nagata, K., Nagasawa, H., Matsumoto, S. 2012. Establishment of a stable Sf9 transformation expression system for functional evaluation of PBAN receptor (PBANR) variants. Frontiers in Endocrinology 3(56): 1-8. (PDF)

Lu, S., Zhao, H., Des Marais, D.L., Parsons, E.P., Wen, X., Xu, X., Bangarusamy, D.K., Wang, G., Rowland, O., Juenger, T., Bressan, R.A., Jenks, M.A. 2012. Arabidopsis ECERIFERUM9 involvement in cuticle formation and maintenance of plant water status. Plant Physiology, Vol. 159, pp. 930-944. (abstract)

Lu, S., Zhao, H., Parsons, E.P., Xu, C., Kosma, D.K., Xu, X., Chao, D., Lohrey, G., Bangarusamy, D.K., Wang, G., Bressan, R.A., Jenks, M.A. 2012. The glossyhead1 Allele of ACC1 Reveals a Principal Role for multidomain acetyl-coenzyme a carboxylase in the biosynthesis of cuticular waxes by arabidopsis[c][w][oa]. Plant Physiology 157: 1079-1092. (abstract).

Nearing, G.S., Crow, W.T., Thorp, K.R., Moran, M.S., Reichle, R., Gupta, H.V. 2012. Assimilating remote sensing observations of leaf area index and soil moisture for wheat yield estimates: An observing system simulation experiment. Water Resources Research. 48, W05525, doi:10.102912011WR011420. (abstract)

Rodriguez-Saona, C., Byers, J.A., Schiffhauer, D. 2012. Effect of trap color and height on captures of blunt-nosed and sharp-nosed leafhoppers (Hemiptera: Cicadellidae) and non-target arthropods in cranberry bogs. Crop Protection 40:132-144. (abstract)

Scafaro, A.P., Yamori, W., Do Carmo Silva, A., Salvucci, M.E., Von Caemmerer, S., Atwell, B.J. 2012. Rubisco activity is associated with photosynthetic thermotolerance in a wild rice (Oryza meridionalis). Physiologia Plantarum 146:99-109. (abstract)

Shelton, A., Naranjo, S.E., Romeis, J., Hellmich, R.L. 2012. Errors in logic and statistics plague a meta-analysis. Environmental Entomology. 41: 1047-1049. (PDF)

Thorp, K.R., Wang, G., West, A.L., Moran, M.S., Bronson, K.F., White, J.W., Mon, J. 2012. Estimating crop biophysical properties from remote sensing data by inverting linked radiative transfer and ecophysiological models. Remote Sensing of Environment. 124:224-233. (PDF)

Walker, C.W., Watson, J.E., Williams, C.F. 2012. Occurrence of carbamazepine in soils under different land uses receiving wastewater. Journal of Environmental Quality. 41:1263-1267. (abstract)

White, J.W., Kimball, B.A., Wall, G.W., Ottman, M.J. 2012. Cardinal temperatures for wheat leaf appearance as assessed from varied sowing dates and infrared warming. Field Crops Research 137:213-220. (PDF)

Williams, C.F., Mclain, J.E. 2012. Soil persistence and fate of carbamazepine, lincomycin, caffeine, and iburpofen from wastewater. Journal of Environmental Quality. 41:1473-1480. (PDF)

Zhang, S., Duan, J.G., Strelkoff, T. 2012. A grain scale non-equilibrium sediment transport model for unsteady flow. Journal of Hydraulic Engineering. DOI:10.1061/(ASCE)HY.1943-7900.0000645. (abstract)


New Grant Awards

A Collaborative Research and Extension Network for Sustainable Organic Production Systems in Coastal California, USDA-NIFA, Organic Research and Education Initiative) (PI C. Sherman, Co-PIs J. Muramoto, S. Swezey, A. Gershenson, K. Klonsky, Collaborator James Hagler) 2011-2015. (summary)

Accelerated Development of Commercial Hydrotreated Renewable Jet (HRJ) Fuel from Redesigned Oil Seed Feedstock Supply Chains, USDA-NIFA/DOE Biomass Research and Development Initiative (PI T. Isbell, Co-PIs Matt Jenks,Mike Gore, D. Long, D. Archer, S. Frey, D. Galloway, T. Tomlinson) 2012-2016. (summary)

Securing the Future of Natural Rubber - An American Tire and Bio-energy Platform from Guayule, USDA-NIFA/DOE Biomass Research and Development Initiative (PI H. Colvin, Co-PIs Mike Gore, C. McMahan, Matt Jenks, A. Halog, J. Mitchell, P. Zorner, Collaborator, Doug Hunsaker) 2012-2016.

Managing Pierce's Disease in Arizona Vineyards, USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant Program through Arizona Department of Agriculture (PI Steve Castle) 2012-2013. (summary)

Identifying genetic markers associated with drought adaptive cuticle lipids in the bioenergy crop oilseed rape (Brassica napus), USDA-ARS Postdoctoral Associate Program (PI Matt Jenks) 2012-2014.

Fueling Arizona Agriculture By Enhancing Camelina Biofuel, Water, Energy and Environmental Solutions, administered through the Institute of the Environment, University of Arizona (PI M. Beilstein, Co-PI L. Gunatilaka, Matt Jenks) 2012.

Functional Analysis of a Novel Cuticle Gene (P4) in Arabidopsis, Chinese Scholarship Fund (A. Wang, G. Chen, Matt Jenks) 2012.


Recent Professional Awards

Mario Aguilera received the USDA-ARS, Pacific West Area Wage Grade Employee of the Year Award in May. The award recognizes the many invaluable contributions Mario has made to facilities maintenance and energy conservation at the Center.

John Byers is the 2012 recipient of the Nan-Yao Su Award for Innovation and Creativity in Entomology.  This is a fairly new award from the Entomological Society of America and recognizes an entomologist who has demonstrated through his/her projects or accomplishments an ability to identify problems and develop creative, alternative solutions that significantly impact entomology.  The award was presented at the ESA meeting in Knoxville in early November.

Michael Gore received the 2012 Early Career Scientist Award from the National Association of Plant Breeders. The award recognizes an individual active in the plant breeding field that has shown exceptional accomplishments in their research, teaching and collaborations with others.  Mike was presented the award at the NAPB meeting in Indianapolis in August and will make an invited presentation to NAPB at their annual meeting in 2013.


Recent Professional Appointments

Eduardo Bautista serves as a member of the Environmental and Water Resources Institute (EWRI), America Society of Civil Engineers.  In this capacity he represents the Irrigation and Drainage Council of EWRI.

Colin Brent was named president of the North American Section of the International Union for the Study of Social Insects 2012-2013.

Kevin Bronson will serve as Division Chair of Soil Fertility & Plant Nutrition, Soil Science Society of America in 2013.

Andrew French will serve as Vice-chair (2013) and Chair (2014) for the Sensor-based Water Management Community, Climatology and Modeling Section of the American Society of Agronomy.

Steve Naranjo was appointed President of the Entomological Society of America, Pacific Branch 2013-2014. He serves as President-Elect in 2012-2013.

Dale Spurgeon was appointed to serve on the Arizona Department of Agriculture, Cotton Advisory Committee.

Jeff White serves as the Chair of Division C-2, Crop Physiology and Metabolism, Crop Science Society of America in 2012.


Recent Events and Outreach

During the summer of 2012 ARS scientists in Maricopa, AZ were actively involved in the training and mentorship of under-represented students, particularly from Hispanic-serving institutions (HSI). One scientist served on the Advisory Board for the Undergraduate Bioscience Engagement Track (uBET) program administered by South Mountain Community College (an HSI). This program is funded by a grant from the USDA-NIFA and aims to increase biotechnology training in local high schools, particularly for minority students. As part of this program, six ARS scientists were paired with three local high schools to help foster collaborations and mentorship opportunities with the students. The grant also paid for nine students and one teacher to work as summer interns in eight different laboratories at the Center. Students were assigned a project to complete and were mentored in how to apply the scientific method, accurate record keeping and data analysis and presentation. The students gained invaluable first-hand knowledge of a working scientific laboratory and how to conduct and present research. Many expressed and interest in pursuing degrees in biology and engineering and returning to the Center for additional training and experience in the future. The students earned course credit and had a poster session at both the Center and South Mountain Community College to present the work that they had conducted during the summer (see a summary of the ceremony at Two ARS scientists also hosted summer interns from Del Mar College in Texas, which is also an HSI.

The "Feds Feed Families" campaign kicked-off July 5th and ended August 31st, 2012. Food banks across America and around the country were faced with severe shortages for non-perishable items just as summer began and children were left without school nutrition programs. Through a federal-wide campaign, federal employees nationwide stepped up to meet the challenge by gathering over 2 million pounds of food for families in need. Employees at the Center in Maricopa, AZ embarked on a 2-month mission of giving. Nearly 3,000 pounds of nonperishable food was donated to the local food bank in Maricopa, AZ.

In May 2012 a Center scientist visited Biotechnology classes at Mountain Point High School in Phoenix, where he spent time with about 50 students and two teachers discussing the research conducted at the Center as well as job and internship opportunities.

In June 2012 the Center hosted a tour for the Summer Ag Institute, a group of about 30 educators from Elementary and High Schools from all over the State of Arizona. This group embarks on a week-long tour of agricultural facilities throughout Arizona, learning about current agricultural research and the important role it plays in rural communities.

In July 2012 several Center scientists attended a meeting hosted by the City of Maricopa and Arizona BioIndustry Association (AZBio). Dr. Shane Burgess, Dean of the University of Arizona College of Agriculture and Life Sciences provided the keynote address. The Center then hosted a tour of our facility that allowed participants to learn about our research programs and opportunities for industry partnerships. About 40 people attended the event.

In September 2012 three Center scientists attended the Maricopa County Community College District ? STEM Internship Expo at the Phoenix College located in Phoenix, AZ. ARS was one of several USDA agencies represented in the event, in addition to other Federal, state, and municipal organizations. They talked to and exchanged information with over 40 people, including students (high school and community college), teachers, and representatives from schools. School representatives expressed significant interest in developing internship opportunities for their students at the Center

In October 2012 a group of about 80 students and faculty from the University of Chapingo, Mexico, visited the Center.  An ARS scientist discussed ongoing research at the Center in the areas of irrigation modeling, irrigation management, and remote sensing in irrigated agriculture.  The group also visited the offices of the Salt River Project, the Central Arizona Project, and the University of Arizona, Maricopa Agricultural Center.  The visit was coordinated by the Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering Department of the University of Arizona.

In November 2012 the USDA-ARS Arid-Land Agricultural Research Center, in partnership with the University of Arizona, Maricopa Agricultural Center hosted Farm Day, a community and stakeholder outreach event at the Center in Maricopa, AZ. Visitors learned first-hand about agriculture and the broad range of agricultural research being conducted by ARS and the University of Arizona. Events included interactive displays and activities in entomology, plant science, irrigation technology, water quality and remote sensing. Families also enjoyed face-painting, cricket-spitting, riding an auto steer tractor, extracting DNA from strawberries, insect petting zoo, bed bug hunt, guessing the seed count, testing their water knowledge and hayrides to the University farm village and 4-H petting zoo. The event was attended by about 600 people from surrounding communities.

"Profiles in Diversity" is an expanded series being featured on the Center Intranet website that showcases employees who are part of "Gen Y" or the "Millennials" (1984-2002). These individual profiles are meant to help us understand the unique backgrounds, areas of interest, and experience of our youngest group of employees to help advance our research into the 21st Century.

The Center hosts a Seminar Series from during the academic season each year, providing the agricultural and scientific community with a forum for keeping abreast of research developments on a wide range of topics in crop protection, plant science, irrigation engineering and remote sensing (every Monday, except Holidays). (Schedule)