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Genetic Map for Bt Resistance Is Top ARS Postdoc Award / December 17, 1999 / News from the USDA Agricultural Research Service

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Built-in Bt protects peanut leaves from insect larvae

Genetic Map for Bt Resistance Is Top ARS Postdoc Award

By Tara Weaver-Missick
December 17, 1999

WASHINGTON, Dec. 17--Agricultural Research Service entomologist Douglas V. Sumerford has won an agency award for his research proposal to develop a genetic map to help identify insects that are becoming resistant to the natural insecticide Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt).

Sumerford and his colleagues at the Southern Insect Management Research Unit in Stoneville, Miss., have been monitoring insect populations in Bt-formulated crops that have been genetically modified to include pest resistance, making them an alternative to synthetic insecticides. Today, Bt crops are a major source of insect control. Over time, however, some insects can develop resistance to Bt and other insecticides, meaning more chemicals must be applied to achieve control.

Sumerford won the T. W. Edminster Award for the top-ranked proposal out of 50 proposals selected by the Agricultural Research Service for its 2000 Postdoctoral Research Associate Program. The program provides postdocs an opportunity to work closely with an experienced researcher in their field. At the same time, postdocs get a chance to perform valuable research to help solve an agricultural problems.

“The postdoctoral program helps us to allocate funds to critical research areas,” said ARS Administrator Floyd P. Horn. “It’s tough picking a few, since all of the proposals are excellent and focus on solving key problems.”

ARS has allocated $4 million to fund 50 projects selected from a list of 350 submissions. Each ARS scientist whose proposal was accepted will receive $80,000 to hire a postdoc for two years of high-priority research.

Aside from Sumerford’s, other top proposals were from:

  • Amy O. Charkowski with ARS’ Western Regional Research Center in Albany, Calif., to identify Salmonella enterica genes expressed by bacteria on plant tissue.
  • Theodore H. Elsasser with ARS’ Growth Biology Laboratory in Beltsville, Md., to determine the genetic basis for disease susceptibility in food animals.

Contact: Edward B. Knipling, Associate Administrator, ARS, Washington, D.C., phone (202) 720-3656, fax (202) 720-5427.

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