Skip Derra, News Service, (515) 294-4917
AGRICULTURE, VETERINARY MEDICINE NATURAL RESOURCES NEWS FROM IOWA STATE UNIVERSITY
AMES, Iowa --
STUDENTS SPENDING THE SUMMER IN BIOTECH LABS
Students from around the country are participating in a research experience at Iowa State University June 5 through July 31. Ten students majoring in biological or agricultural sciences will gain practical knowledge of biotechnology through hands-on experience in research labs in different departments. They also will visit biotech facilities on and off campus. Parag Chitnis, associate professor of biochemistry, and David Oliver, chair and professor of botany, started the program last year to provide research opportunities to undergraduates from small colleges and minority institutions. Chitnis said the program also helps participants figure out if laboratory work is right for them before applying to graduate-level studies. During the eight- week program, students work on projects that reflect their interests, including generation of recombinant DNA, genome analysis and molecular genetics. Among the 10 institutions represented this summer, three are Iowa schools: Simpson College, Cornell College and Iowa State. Participants receive a stipend and room and board in campus dormitories as part of the experience. The program is supported by the Department of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Molecular Biology; Iowa Agriculture and Home Economics Experiment Station; and the National Science Foundation. Check the program's web site at http://molebio.iastate.edu/chitnis/nsf-reu.htm. Contact Chitnis, (515) 292-6109, or Megan Kuhn, Agriculture Information, (515) 294-2957.
FAPRI AGRICULTURAL TRADE PROJECTIONS NOW AVAILABLE
Agricultural trade projections for the next decade are now available in two published reports and online. According to the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI), the value of U.S. exports will increase more than 40 percent by 2008. "In the long run, optimism for U.S. agricultural exports stems primarily from new market-access opportunities derived from trade agreements and from the expected economic recovery in Asia and other emerging markets," said John Behgin, FAPRI director at Iowa State. "As global food demand progressively recovers, the United States is in an excellent position to capitalize on expanding consumption." Projection data and analysis for major commodities are available in the 1999 World Agricultural Outlook and the 1999 U.S. Agricultural Outlook. The information is also available on two Web sites: www.fapri.iastate.edu and www.fapri.missouri.edu. To order a report, contact Betty Hempe, Center for Agricultural and Rural Development, (515) 294-7519. Contact Frank Fuller, FAPRI, (515) 294-0470; Samarendu Mohanty, (515) 294-6296; or Judith Pim, Center for Agricultural and Rural Development, (515) 294-6257.
FOLIC ACID UNLOCKS ANSWERS TO HUMAN HEALTH
Folic acid, also known as folate, is a B vitamin found in beans, leafy green vegetables and organ meats. ISU food scientist Kevin Schalinske is researching how factors like nutrition and hormones may affect the normal function of folic acid, compromising the body's ability to resist disease and maintain health. Folic acid's function is to transfer methyl groups from one chemical compound to another. When a body has enough folic acid, the vitamin can hinder the development of cancerous tumors, heart disease and birth defects. Schalinske's research on folic acid could reduce side effects from some medical treatments. Vitamin A derivatives, known as retinoids, are a common treatment for cancer and skin problems. However, they can affect liver function and cause birth defects much like compromised levels of folic acid. Schalinske is investigating a link between retinoid use and a reduced supply of methyl groups. If a link is found, scientists may be able to explain additional roles that folic acid, methyl groups and retinoids play in human health. Contact Schalinske, (515) 294-4437, or Danelle Baker- Miller, Office of Biotechnology, (515) 294-7356.
SLOWING SMV MAY BE BEST DEFENSE AGAINST BEAN YIELD LOSS
Every soybean-growing area in the United States is infected with soybean mosaic virus (SMV), including Iowa where yield reductions of up to 24 percent have been documented. To cut yield losses, ISU plant pathologists Forrest Nutter and John Hill propose that scientists develop transgenic soybean plants that slow the spread of SMV from plant-to-plant rather than aim for totally resistant varieties. Nutter says that new transgenic varieties may lose their resistance over time as the virus fights back by developing strains to overcome the resistance. The ISU researchers believe soybeans that succumb to the virus more slowly could buy enough time for a field to mature and set seed pods. Once that happens, SMV has little effect on yield, Nutter said. Before scientists can evaluate the effectiveness of strategies that slow the rate of SMV infection, they need to be able to track the progress of SMV. Nutter and Hill are developing and testing new virus detection, plant sampling and computer tools to determine how fast an SMV strain infects a field. Contact Nutter, (515) 294-8737, or Glenda Webber, Office of Biotechnology, (515) 294-9818.
PRODUCERS CAN HELP MINIMIZE ODOR FROM HOG OPERATIONS
One key to reducing odors from swine operations is to feed proper diets to pigs. This has the potential of reducing the amount, and composition, of manure that must be degraded, says Wendy Powers of the Iowa Pork Industry Center. "By favorably changing the composition of manure, the potential exists to lessen the odor of stored manure," says Powers, an assistant professor of animal science at Iowa State. She says producers can help minimize odor development by feeding a balanced diet, using specific feed additives that affect odor, and keeping feed fresh and dry. Powers has additional information on ways pork producers can reduce odors. Contact Powers, (515) 294-4103, or Sherry Hoyer, Iowa Pork Industry Center, (515) 294-4496.
AG EXPERIENCE FOR ELEMENTARY, MIDDLE SCHOOL TEACHERS
ISU and Iowa's farm and commodity groups are teaming up to teach Iowa elementary and middle school teachers ways to incorporate agricultural information into their classrooms. This is the eighth year for the Teacher's Academy on Agricultural Awareness. Thirty-five teachers will attend each of two sessions, June 14-16 and June 16-18, at the Iowa Cattlemen's Association headquarters in Ames. They will receive hands-on demonstrations of curriculum materials, tour a farm, visit the ISU Meats Lab and work in small groups to develop classroom activities. Contact Robert Martin, Agricultural Education and Studies, (515) 294-0896, or Susan Thompson, Agriculture Information, (515) 294-0705.
IOWA PORK INDUSTRY CENTER LAUNCHES NEW WEB SITE
The Iowa Pork Industry Center has a new World Wide Web site located at: http://www.ipic.iastate.edu. The center is the umbrella organization for pork and swine-related activities at Iowa State. The Web site features center programs, events and people, and provides links to additional sources of information for pork producers, consumers and the public. Plans for the Web site include providing on-line registration for seminars, access to the annual Swine Research Reports and links to news releases from the center and ISU. Contact Sherry Hoyer, Iowa Pork Industry Center, (515) 294-4496.
EXPO '99 LOOKS AT INNOVATIVE FUTURE FOR FARMING
"Expo '99: Creating a Thriving Iowa Agriculture" will examine new paths Iowa farmers can take to be successful in the future. The expo, to be held Thursday, June 17, at Iowa State University, will include a panel discussion with Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Patty Judge. Other sessions feature entrepreneurs working on innovative projects with crops, livestock, organics, energy and other areas. The expo will run from 8:45 a.m. to 4 p.m. Cost is $10, which includes a lunch of all-Iowa foods. The expo is sponsored by several ISU programs, including Vision 2020, ISU Extension, the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, and Sustainable Agriculture Research and Extension, with support from several Iowa agricultural groups. Contact Roger Swafford, Vision 2020, (515) 294-2698, or Brian Meyer, Agriculture Information, (515) 294-0706.
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