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Research Project: Genetic Improvement of Crop Plants for Use with Low Quality Irrigation Waters: Physiological, Biochemical and Molecular Approaches

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Title: Horticultural science and its interplay with parasites, livestock, salts, and biofuels

Author
item Ferreira, Jorge

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/9/2018
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Plants play a vital role in the diet and health of humans and animals. In my 25-year science career, started at Purdue, I have worked with plants that can cure malaria and other parasitic diseases of humans and livestock; one of them (Artemisia annua) led to a Lasker-DeBakery Clinical Medical Research Award (2011) and a Nobel Prize (2015) to the female Chinese scientist who pioneered its use as raw material for antimalarial drugs. My USDA post-doctoral work resulted in the first histochemical and immunocytochemical localization of cocaine in Erythroxylum species (coca), and the elucidation of the differential response of two coca species to glyphosate; the latter became the base of the American-sponsored war on drugs in Colombia since 1995. Later USDA work focused on natural alternative controls of livestock gastrointestinal parasites that have developed worldwide tolerance to commercial anthelmintics, or were treated with arsenic since World War II. Some of this work also provided a natural way to reduce cow-generated methane in the atmosphere, currently undergoing validation in Denmark. For the past 5 years, my research has focused on the effect of salinity on biochemical, physiological, and nutritional aspects of traditional and new crops important to the economy of California and other semi-arid climates. Some of the work involved a neglected Native American plant (Helianthus tuberosus) that is moderately-tolerant to salinity, is a rich source of inulin: a prebiotic fiber and a raw material for biofuels. My presentation will illustrate how a degree in horticulture has allowed me to do research, develop methods, and publish in the areas of botany, physiology, phytochemistry, genetics, chromatography, weed science, parasitology, and abiotic stress, while collaborating with colleagues from all over the world.