AGRICULTURE, VETERINARY MEDICINE, AND NATURAL RESOURCES
NEWS FROM IOWA STATE UNIVERSITY
STUDENT RESEARCHER BUSY AS A BEE ON HONEY OF A PROJECT
Many college students get involved in research projects after they arrive on campus. Carol Fassbinder brought hers with her. Fassbinder, an 18-year-old freshman at Iowa State, is majoring in zoology and is conducting research on honey bees. She has been studying problems related to her family's bee colonies since she was in seventh grade. She has focused on finding new ways to control mites that infect bee colonies. Fassbinder and entomology department chair Joel Coats are members of an ISU research team that has a patent pending on a promising mite-control compound from plants found in the mint family. Fassbinder has presented her research results in several national and international science fairs, and will compete in a worldwide competition in Hanover, Germany, this fall. Contact Coats, (515) 294-7400, Fassbinder, (515) 572-5764, or Megan Kuhn, Agriculture Information, (515) 294-2957.
HUMAN FAT GENE LEADS TO DISCOVERY ON LEAN PIGS
A gene that makes people eat more may make pigs leaner, say ISU researchers. Many scientists have been studying the melanocortin-4 receptor (MC4R) gene in hopes of understanding more about the genetics of human obesity. The MC4R gene is now believed to play a significant role in regulating feeding behavior and body weight in humans and other mammals. ISU animal scientists wondered whether different forms of MC4R might influence growth-related traits in pigs. They identified a naturally occurring mutation of the gene. Pigs with the gene ate less, grew slower and were leaner, said Max Rothschild, professor of animal science. Using this information, the researchers developed a genetic test to identify lines of pigs that satisfy pork producer and consumer preferences for leaner pork. Contact Rothschild, (515) 294-6202, or Brian Meyer, Agriculture Information, (515) 294-0706.
LINK BETWEEN ENVIRONMENT AND PARKINSON'S DISEASE IS SUBJECT OF MARCH 31 TALK AT ISU
Environmental factors, especially toxic agents related to agriculture, may play a significant role in the origination and development of Parkinson's disease. Arumantha Kanthasamy, a biomedical scientist at Iowa State's College of Veterinary Medicine, recently received a $1.3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to study the links between environmental factors and Parkinson's disease. His research focuses on the toxic agents found in the agricultural community and their potential to induce neuronal injury to specific areas of the brain and the central nervous system. Kanthasamy will speak on "Parkinson's Disease in the Agricultural Community," at noon on Friday, March 31, in the Pioneer Room of the ISU Memorial Union. The lecture, which is free and open to the public, is part of a series that focuses on new areas of biomedical research in the College of Veterinary Medicine. Contact Kanthasamy, (515) 294-2516, or Phyllis Peters, Veterinary Medicine Communications, (515) 294-4602.
CARCASS COMPOSTING IS EASY, LOW-COST DISPOSAL METHOD
As rendering availability decreases and rendering costs increase more livestock producers are turning to composting. Tom Glanville of Iowa State University's agricultural and biosystems engineering department says carcass composting is an option for most producers, as long as they provide four basic needs for the microbes which do the actual composting. "Keep temperatures between 120 and 150 F, moisture between 30 and 65 percent, the carbon-nitrogen level at a minimum of 20 to 1 and be sure to provide sufficient oxygen," he says. Information on current composting regulations for Iowa and creating compost operations is included in publication SA-8, "Composting dead livestock: A new solution to an old problem." It is available through ISU county extension offices, and on the Web at www.extension.iastate.edu/Publications/SA8.pdf. Contact Glanville, (515) 294-0463, or Sherry Hoyer, Iowa Pork Industry Center, (515) 294-4496.
POSTER SHOWING WEED EMERGENCE SEQUENCES AVAILABLE
Iowa State University has produced a poster aimed at helping improve producers' ability to predict when certain row crop weeds emerge. "Weed emergence sequences: Knowledge to guide scouting and control" shows the emergence sequence of 16 important weeds of the northern Corn Belt. The poster is available in letter- and poster-sized formats. Single copies of the poster (publication number IPM-64) are free from ISU Extension Distribution Center, (515) 294-5247. The Weed Management Issue Team, which is sponsored by the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, originated much of the information used to develop the poster. Contact Robert Hartzler, Agronomy, (515) 294-1923, or Anne Larson, Leopold Center, (515) 294-0626.
IOWANS SHARE VISIONS ABOUT THE FUTURE OF FARMING
A panel of Iowans will share their visions about the future of farming at a March 28 program sponsored by Iowa State University agricultural business students and the ISU Agricultural Foundation. The speakers will be: Reg Clause, a feedlot owner and consultant from Jefferson; John Fisher, a banker and and farmer from Neola; Varel Bailey, farmer and president of Precision Beef Alliance of Atlantic; Paul and Andrea Brown, farmers from Iowa Falls; and William Edwards, ISU agricultural economist. The program will begin at 7 p.m. in Room 127 of Curtiss Hall on campus. Contact Brian Meyer, Agriculture Information, (515) 294-0706.
SEMINAR, PUBLIC HEARING ON PLANT-DERIVED VACCINES SET FOR APRIL 5-6
Edible vaccines that protect humans and animals from viral diseases may become commonplace as a result of technology that genetically enhances plants to carry recombinant proteins. An upcoming public hearing and scientific seminar will provide a forum for discussion of the regulatory and policy issues related to the manufacture, distribution and use of plant-derived vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics. "Plant-Derived Biologics," will be held April 5 - 6 at the Scheman Building, Iowa State University. The public hearing, organized by the FDA and USDA, begins at 1 p.m. on April 6, and is free of charge. Fee for the scientific seminar is $200. The event is sponsored by the ISU-based Institute for International Cooperation in Animal Biologics (IICAB) at the College of Veterinary Medicine. More information is available on the Web at: www.vm.iastate.edu/iicab/iicab.htm. Contact Jim Roth, IICAB, (515) 294-7632, or Phyllis Peters, Veterinary Medicine Communications, (515) 294-4602.
INPUT SOUGHT ON RESEARCH PRIORITIES FOR ISU AG PLAN
The public is welcome to attend an open forum on March 22 to identify important research issues to include in the next five-year strategic plan for Iowa State University's College of Agriculture. The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. in 203 Kildee Hall on campus. Contact Sue Lamont, Animal Science, (515) 294-4100, or Brian Meyer, Agriculture Information, (515) 294-0706.
WHAT WE'RE SAYING WHEN WE TALK 'SUSTAINABLE'
The word "sustainable" peppers many discussions on agriculture. How do we strengthen rural communities to ensure they are sustainable places to live? How do we plan for sustainable agriculture that supplies food for the world's population while protecting the environment? How do we ensure our economic competitiveness is sustainable in global markets? A common thread in talks about sustainability is a desire to preserve something good our natural resources for future generations, says Richard Ross, interim dean of agriculture at Iowa State. "What we're really talking about is quality of life. It's as simple as that." Ross has written an article on sustainability for National Agriculture Week, March 19-25. The entire article is available on the Web at: http://www.ag.iastate.edu/aginfo/news/deanmessage.html. Contact: Brian Meyer, Agriculture Information, (515) 294-0706.
INVESTING IN FUTURE OF AG SCIENCE AND EDUCATION
The importance of investing in agricultural science and education was emphasized to Iowa's Congressional leaders recently by Iowa State administrators and Iowans who serve on the Council for Agricultural Research, Extension and Teaching. CARET is a grassroots organization working to enhance support of food and agricultural programs at land-grant universities. "Investments in discovery, outreach and learning are especially important to Iowa as it seeks to be the Food Capital of the World," said Gerald Klonglan, associate dean of agriculture. "We need to invest in a comprehensive understanding of food systems to make that a reality." In Iowa, more than 372,000 people -- at least 20 percent of state employment -- are directly involved in the food chain that links the farm gate to the dinner plate. The group's report included examples of how ISU research, teaching and extension are helping Iowans. It can be found on the Web at: www.ag.iastate.edu/news/CARET.pdf. Contact Klonglan, (515) 294-4763, or Ed Adcock, Agriculture Information, (515) 294-2314.
FROM A DISTANCE, ISU OFFERS A WORLD OF AG EDUCATION
Five years ago, Iowa State agronomy professor Ken Moore and a group of his colleagues didn't know they'd be making history when they stood outside Moore's office talking about master's degree options. That discussion lead to the creation of ISU's master's of agronomy program, the first distance-education effort of its type. The agronomy program is one example of expanding distance education efforts in ISU's College of Agriculture. Last fall 119 courses were offered, up from 76 two years ago. Distance education provides off-campus students access to degree programs, courses and instructional materials. Many take advantage of learning over the Internet. Although the college's involvement in distance education has grown steadily for 20 years, enormous growth is coming, said Richard Carter, director of the ag college's distance education programs. Carter predicted the college will ultimately have more students off-campus than on. Contact Carter, (515) 294-6950, or Ed Adcock, Agriculture Information, (515) 294-2314.
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