The project focuses on educating agencies, public officials, and other stakeholder groups about issues surrounding invasive, non-native forest pests. The potential social, economic, and ecological impacts of these forest pests is staggering. Decisions need to be made to manage pest populations in order to minimize impacts. Effective outreach and extension activities that communicate accurate and up-to-date scientific knowledge are necessary to facilitate this decision making process.
The mission of the Sun Grant Initiative is to: 1) enhance national energy security through development, distribution, and implementation of biobased energy technologies; 2) promote biobased diversification and environmental sustainability of America's agriculture; and 3) promote opportunities for biobased economic diversification in rural communities.
Growers and consumers detest rotten onions. They cause financial losses to both groups. Most rots are caused by bacterial pathogens, and there are no good methods available to prevent the problem. If the losses from rot can be reduced or eliminated, everyone will be happier! In 2007, my program began to address bacterial disease problems of onions.
In field experiments, we are investigating the conditions that alter the consumptive and nonconsumptive effects of predators. We have selected plant resistance, predator density, and predator ontogeny as likely important factors. We will elucidate the mechanisms generating these effects using plants with genetically modified resistance responses, an examination of herbivore and predator behavior, and chemical assays of plant resistance. These mechanisms will include effects of the predator on herbivores and effects of the predator directly on plants.
Bacteria that cause vascular diseases in plants, including grapes, were discovered to migrate against the transpiration-induced flow of xylem sap using pilus-mediated twitching movements. Colonization of the vascular system by these bacteria was examined in vitro using nanofabricated microfluidic chambers in which the bacteria were discovered to auto-aggregate into cell masses that plugged the channels.
We are working to understand the role of the soil microbial community in forming and releasing zinc (Zn) and cadmium (Cd) sulfides in a soil naturally very high in these metals. Hotspots of high Zn cause extreme phytotoxicity in horticultural fields in the Elba region. Seasonal wetting and draining exacerbate these problems. Willows grown as hedgerows are tolerant of and take up high concentrations of these metals. Willows and their associated microbial communities could prove useful in phytoremediation studies at this and other sites contaminated with heavy metals.
Late blight and early blight result in severe loss of tomato production when environment is favorable to the pathogens and development of either of these diseases. Cornell plant breeders have freshmarket tomato lines with genetic resistance to late blight and strong genetic tolerance to early blight.
More information is needed about how best to design genes and plants that will allow high yield of novel commercial enzymes and pharmaceutical products. One valuable protein that could be produced in plants is cellulase, an enzyme that is needed to digest cellulose-containing biomass into sugar, which can be fermented into ethanol. We plan to focus on chloroplasts as prospective sites for synthesis of useful proteins.
This project is focused on the transfer, manipulation and deployment of a remarkably novel form of insect resistance in tomato. The resistance, mediated by the trichome secondary product “acylsugars,” is novel in several ways, including the unparalleled spectrum of insect species controlled and the method of control involving deterrence of pests by a compound that is non-toxic to most of the insects it controls, as well as to other organisms.
To manage a network of populations within a species, we must understand the biological processes that interconnect populations, such as dispersal, and those that cause them to diverge, such as local adaptation along environmental gradients. Many organisms that inhabit estuaries disperse as microscopic larvae in patterns and at scales that have been difficult to discern. We are using genetic markers in several co-distributed coastal species to measure gene flow within and among Florida's Atlantic coastal lagoons.