In this study, we attempt to identify the functions of compounds secreted by herbivorous insects that interact with plants. Herbivore-derived elicitors are specific compounds found in the foregut or saliva of plant-eating insects that trigger specific plant responses, such as increasing plant resistance to herbivory or otherwise changing the interaction of the plant with the insect community.
This research program is aimed at improving the sustainability of the floriculture industry by developing practices that allow producers to produce high-value crops while using fertilizers, water and energy resources efficiently. For example, floriculture yield losses often result from poor irrigation water quality or improper fertilization practices. The improved efficiency of water and fertilizers has the potential to decrease fertilizer leaching, which will help protect our state's water resources.
This project focuses on how female insects assess the quality of potential mates and how they communicate their preference to suitors. We are studying the acoustic courtship calling of katydids.
The Network for Environment & Weather Awareness (NEWA), a network of electronic weather stations collecting data on farms, partners with the Northeast Regional Climate Center for data acquisition, quality control, weather information delivery and pest forecast model programming. NEWA users report that they can save, on average, up to $19,500 per year in spray costs and prevent, on average, up to $264,000 per year in crop loss as a direct result of using NEWA pest forecast models.
Spinal cord injury (SCI) results in two spinal problems. First, the neural networks that control movement in the spinal cord lose their drive from the brain. Second, the neurons in the spinal cord below the lesion start to alter their properties due to the loss of input. We are studying this second problem by analyzing the properties of identified spinal interneurons after spinal cord injury, and whether replacement therapy with serotonergic agonists can prevent these changes.
When released into fields of sweet corn, the tiny wasp Trichogramma ostriniae is effective at suppressing infestations of the European corn borer, a serious pest of the crop. A single release made early in the season is generally all that is needed to reduce damage by 50 percent or more, and multiple releases have proven even more effective. This often results in a reduction in the need for insecticide treatments, thus minimizing risks to health and the environment. The technique is effective in sweet corn and also peppers and potatoes.
We are studying the patterns of attack by a community of insect herbivores on plants; the work involves field biology, chemical ecology, genetics, and entomology. Our basic research involves milkweed plants, nearly 120 species from North America (and 20 from South America), which grow in various habitats and are attacked by a specialized community of insects. Some of the work is evolutionary in terms of quantifying phylogenetic patterns associated with the evolution of specialization (in insects parasites) and other work is more ecological, based on community interactions.
Use of biodegradable plastic mulch eliminated the need for in-row shallow cultivation, herbicides, and costly follow-up hand weeding labor in new strawberry and blueberry cooperator trials.
Cornell University Cooperative Extension-NYC (CUCE-NYC), in collaboration with Cornell’s Department of Natural Resources, is working with residents and community organizations to develop, implement and evaluate a 3-year social science research and education project that will result in development of an urban forestry community engagement model, toolkit and resources that will be used by organizations to reach and empower people to be active stewards of their community’s trees and natural resources.
A web-based, apple integrated pest management (IPM) decision support system was developed to facilitate pest management decisions. The system tracks seasonal development of insect pests using degree day (DD) developmental models. DD models and historical records are used to calculate tree phenological stage, pest stage, status and management advice. When a spray is recommended, a pesticide filter helps identify appropriate materials according to efficacy and type of management program. Predictions can be refined and adjusted by user-entered information obtained through field monitoring.