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United States Department of Agriculture

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News from the Southeast Area


Important Events for the Upcoming Week:

Agency Accomplishments

Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Research Chemist, Sophie Uchimiya of the Commodity Utilization Research Unit in New Orleans, LA received the 2016 Journal of Environmental Quality Outstanding Associate Editor award.  The award will be featured in CSA News of American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and Soil Science Society of America (ASA-CSSA-SSSA).

Press Releases:

Kari Hugie and her research at the Pee Dee Center was featured in an article in the Southeast Farm Press Magazine.  Kari is a Post doc, Research Geneticist at the Coastal Plains Soil, Water, and Plant Res. Center in Florence, SC, and works with Dr. Todd Campbell.  You can read the entire article at the below link


Outreach and Professional Activities:

February 28-March 1, 2017, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Research Entomologist, Alvin M. Simmons of the U.S. Vegetable Laboratory in Charleston, SC will attend the IR-4 National Education Conference in Orlando, FL. This training conference will be attended by federal, state and industry personnel from the US and Canada who work in the different components of developing research data to support new EPA tolerances and labeled product uses through the IR-4 Project. This national project is the major resource for supplying pest management tools for specialty crop growers.

Feb 1-28, 2017, Agricultural Research Service (ARS), Research Entomologist Lilia de Guzman, from the Honey Bee, Breeding, Genetics and Physiology Research Unit in Baton Rouge, LA, will visit Chiang Mai University, Thailand to serve as co-advisor for a Ph.D. student. She will assist the graduate student with design and execution of different experiments.

February 15-17, 2017, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Research Scientists from the Sugarcane Research Unit in Houma, LA will participate in the Louisiana Agricultural Technology & Management Conference in Marksville, LA. Presentations will be made by James Todd, Research Geneticist, entitled “Variety Characteristics;” by Richard Johnson, Research Agronomist, entitled “Sugarcane Fertility and Remote Sensing Research Update;” and by Paul White, Research Soil Scientist, entitled “Eight-foot Rows and Billet Planting Update.”

February 19-22, 2017, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Research Leader Craig Tucker of the Warmwater Aquaculture Research Unit, Stoneville, MS will deliver one invited presentation and one submitted presentation at Aquaculture America 2017, the annual meeting of the US Aquaculture Society. The invited presentation is entitled “How to Write a Bad Paper: Advice from a Noted Expert.” The submitted presentation is “Water Quality in Catfish Ponds after Partial Fish Harvest,” with ARS scientist Les Torrans as co-author. Aquaculture America 2017 will held on February 19-22, 2017, in San Antonio TX.

February 19-22, 2017.  Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Research Geneticist Nagaraj Chatakondi of the Warmwater Aquaculture Research Unit, Stoneville, MS will make presentation with James Rodgers, Acting Director of the SRRC, New Orleans and is entitled “Evaluation of a portable Near Infra Red spectrophotometer to stage maturity in Channel catfish” and the second presentation with Carl Jeffers is entitled “Effects of Calcium and Magnesium hardness on fertilization and hatching success of hybrid catfish eggs” at the 2017 Aquaculture America and World Aquaculture Conference and Exhibition to be held at San Antonio., TX.  Dr Chatakondi will also judge student presentations, and meet with producers, researchers, vendors and FDA researchers at the meeting.  

February 19-22, 2017, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Research Fishery Biologist Les Torrans, Warmwater Aquaculture Research Unit, will attend Aquaculture America 2017 in San Antonio, TX. He will present a paper titled “EFFECT OF GRADED FINGERLINGS ON HYBRID CATFISH FOOD FISH SIZE DISTRIBUTION”.

February 19 – February 22, 2017, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Research Scientists Drs. Ben Beck, Craig Shoemaker, Ben LaFrentz, Dehai Xu, and Dunhua Zhang, Aquatic Animal Health Research Unit, Auburn, AL will be participating in Aquaculture America 2017, Forging New Frontiers. Drs. Ben Beck and Ben LaFrentz will co-chair a session on Fish Health and Disease. Dr. Ben LaFrentz will also present a paper entitled “Controlled laboratory challenge demonstrates substantial additive genetic variation in resistance to Streptococcus iniae in Nile tilapia”. Dr. Craig Shoemaker will present a paper entitled “Spring forward with improved Nile tilapia Oreochromis niloticus resistant to Streptococcus iniae and Streptococcus agalactiae IB”. Dr. Dehai Xu will present a paper entitled “Impacts of parasite infection on columnaris disease in tilapia”. Dr. Dunhua Zhang will present a paper entitled “Chitin degradation and metabolism by virulent Aeromonas hydrophila”.

February 22-24, 2017, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Research Geneticist Nagaraj Chatakondi of Warmwater Aquaculture Research Unit, Stoneville, MS will make a presentation entitled “Incubation temperatures and parental effects on the hatching success and progeny performance of channel catfish’ at the 43rd Annual meeting of the MS chapter of the American Fisheries Society in Biloxi, MS.  Nagaraj will also co-author with Jesse Filbrun of Southern Arkansas State University for a poster presentation entitled “Effects of commercial feed provision on early-life diets and growth of Channel, Blue, and Channel x blue hybrid catfish” during the meeting.

February 23, 2017, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Biological Science Technician Christopher Werle of the Thad Cochran Southern Horticultural Laboratory in Poplarville, MS will make an oral presentation at the 81st Annual Meeting of the Mississippi Academy of Sciences in Hattiesburg, MS, entitled “A Push-Pull IPM Strategy for Invasive Ambrosia Beetles in Ornamental Tree Nurseries”

February 21-23, 2017, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Research Geneticist, Benjamin T. Campbell, Coastal Plains Soil, Water, and Plant Research of Florence, SC, will attend “Almaco Precision Training,” to receive one day training on the new planter to be conducted at Almaco, in De Moines, Iowa.

February, 22, 2017, Agricultural Research Service (ARS), Agricultural Engineer, Ronald Bingner, Watershed Physical Processes Research Unit, National Sedimentation Laboratory, Oxford, MS, will present the webinar "Overview of the Agricultural Non-Point Source Pollution Model (AGNPS)" to the Interagency Steering Committee on Multimedia Environmental Models.

February 22-24, 2017, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Microbiologists, Douglas Cosby, Arthur Hinton, Jr., and Food Technologist, J. Eric Line of the US National Poultry Research Center in Athens, GA will attend the Annual USDA-ARS/FSIS Food Safety meeting in Shepherdstown, WV. 

February 23-25, 2017, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Lead Scientist, Gillian Eggleston, of the Sugar and Energy CRIS in the Commodity Utilization Research Unit, Research Leader, Thomas Klasson, Southern Regional Research Center, New Orleans, LA have been invited to give two presentations at the National Sweet Sorghum Processors Association meeting in Pigeon Forge, TN. Gillian will give the following presentations: “The Simple Chemistry of Processing Sweet Sorghum In to Syrup” and “Simple and Inexpensive Techniques to Help You Process Sweet Sorghum.”

February 25, 2017, Agricultural Research Service (ARS), The Subtropical Horticulture Research Station (SHRS), Miami, FL will host our annual Community Day 2017. This will be an open campus event for the public and local chapters (garden clubs, colleges etc.) that have an alliance with the unit, along with vendors to learn about the role of importance that science and agriculture plays, by showcasing what this location does and how it impacts the community, and why it is beneficial to the community. This is slated to take place February 25th, at 10:00 am. The last one held was approximately last year. This venue (community day) attracted 300 plus folks and edutainment (entertainment and education) was achieved as a result of this outreach effort.

February 26-March 1, 2017, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Research Plant Pathologist, Peter Cotty, of the Food and Feed Safety Research Unit, Southern Regional Research Center, New Orleans, LA has been invited to present at the 2017Annual Meeting of the American Phytopathological Society’s Caribbean Division (APCS-CD). He will be presenting a talk on aflatoxin management in crops. The meeting will be held in San Jose, Costa Rica.

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

Last Modified: 2/15/2017
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