Page Banner

United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

July 23, 2014

Weekly Report

Research, Education, and Economics


Under Secretary Catherine Woteki                                       Report Date:  August 4-15, 2014


Agency Accomplishments (press/media achievements of the week)


Reform Based Actions


Important Events for the Upcoming Week

ARS researcher Robert Danka, Honey Bee Breeding, Genetics, and Physiology Research, Baton Rouge, LA has been selected to receive the James Hambleton Memorial Award for Research from the Eastern Apicultural Society and speak at their annual conference about our research at Eastern Kentucky University, Richmond, KY from July 28-31, 2014.


Media Flags


Press Releases, Reports and Blogs for the Upcoming Week  


Press Releases:


Stakeholder Announcements:






Outreach and Professional Activities:

ARS researcher Marilyn Warburton, Corn Host Plant Resistance Research Unit, Mississippi State, MS will attend the American Phytopathological Society annual meeting in Minneapolis, MN, August 11-13, 2014.  Dr. Warburton will make an invited presentation, “Genetics and next-generation sequencing in identifying markers for aflatoxin resistance in maize,” on Wednesday morning, August 13.

ARS researchers Michael Grisham and Amber Keizerweerd of the Sugarcane Research Unit, Houma, LA will present papers at the 2014 APS – CPS Joint Meeting -American Phytopathological Society – Canadian Phytopathological Society in Minneapolis, MN on August 9 – 13, 2014.  Dr. Grisham’s abstract: Red stripe caused by Acidovirax avenae subsp. avenae in Louisiana Sugarcane; Dr. Keizerweerd’s abstract: Determining seed transmissibility of sugarcane mosaic virus and sugarcane yellow leaf virus in sugarcane. This year’s program offers a wide variety of special sessions, field trips, and workshops dedicated to the latest research and information on plant science and will host 1,500 attendees from 45 countries.

The Sugarcane Research Unit, Houma, LA hosted a group (29) of 6th and 7th grade students from the South Louisiana Wetlands Discovery summer camp. Support personnel provided a tour of the Sugarcane Research Unit’s Ardoyne farm.  The students had a keen interest in science and enjoyed the presentation on land loss presented by Mr. Chris Adams and Mr. Lionel Lomax.  The campers were able to instantly see what causes the loss of land and how to slow it down. Randy Richard presented a talk on entomology and shared information on the ways we check for pests, how we environmentally handle the insecticide applications, as well as our research efforts to breed for resistant varieties of sugarcane.  The campers then moved on to a presentation on pathology and disease recognition presented by Kathy Warnke and assisted by Lionel Lomax and Eric Petrie.  These young people were able to load a PCR gel with dye to see how it is done as well as observe various objects under the microscope.  Finally, the students toured the juice lab where Norris Matherne and Eric Petrie had sugarcane stalks cut for the students to run through the roller mill.  They provided a demonstration on how to collect juice from the sugarcane stalks and explained the process of analyzing the juice samples in the lab.  These young people asked probing questions and had great responses when asked questions throughout the day.

ARS researcher Agnes Rimando, Natural Products Utilization Research Unit, Oxford, MS will receive two prestigious awards at the American Chemical Society (ACS) meeting to be held in San Francisco, CA in August 2014; one for being selected to the 2014 Class of ACS Fellows, and another as Fellow of the ACS Agricultural and Food Chemistry Division (AGFD).  The awards will be presented on August 11 and 12, respectively.  ACS is the world’s largest scientific society with over 161,000 members.  The ACS Fellows Program recognizes members for outstanding achievements in and contributions to science, the profession, and the ACS. The purpose of the AGFD Fellow award is to recognize an AGFD member who has made outstanding scientific contributions to the field of agricultural and food chemistry.  Rimando has held various leadership roles in ACS at the national and local section levels.  She currently serves as Councilor of AGFD and Chair of the Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific Basin of the ACS Committee on International Activities. She was Chair of AGFD in 2006 and Chair of ACS Ole Miss section in 2008-2009.

ARS researchers Stephen Duke and Agnes Rimando of the Natural Products Utilization Research Unit, University, MS will attend the American Chemical Society National Meeting and Exposition in San Francisco, CA, August 10 – 14.   This year’s event theme is “Chemistry & Global Stewardship” and will focus on the global aspects of the chemical enterprise related to sustainability of world resources, including green chemistry, the globalization of chemistry, and global cooperation among attending scientists. Dr. Duke will present plenary presentations entitled, “Discovery of New Herbicide Modes of Action in Phytotoxins” and “Greener Chemistry in Pest Management.”  Dr. Rimando will present a plenary talk entitled, “Health Benefits of Pterostilbene and Engineering Its Production In Planta” as well as chair the International Congress of Pesticide Chemistry and Food Chemistry Division symposiums. 

ARS researcher Kanniah Rajasekaran, Food & Feed Safety Research Unit, New Orleans, LA will attend the 13th World Congress of the International Association for Plant Biotechnology,  August 9-15, 2014, in Melbourne, Australia.  He will present two papers:  “Identification of genes induced in response to Aspergillus flavus infection in cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) by genome-wide transcriptome analysis” and "Control of preharvest mycotoxin contamination of corn kernels and cottonseed by transgenic expression of synthetic peptides.”  This quadrennial international conference will highlight recent plant biotechnological advances including in genomics, proteomics and metabolomics.  Of particular interest to the traveler are sessions on host-pathogen interaction as affected by transgenes and biotic or abiotic stress management strategies.  For his conference in Melbourne his presentation will be on August 12, 2014 at 7:30pm.  Rajasekaran has also been invited to give a seminar on August 18, 2014 at 10:00am and to interact with the faculty on mycotoxin contamination of grain crops and peanuts at the University of Sydney, Australia, August 16-18, 2014.


ARS scientist Heping Cao, Commodity Utilization Research Unit, New Orleans, LA will present the abstract titled “Overview of tung oil research in the US with a focus on biochemistry, biotechnology and molecular biology of tung oil biosynthesis”, August 6-8, 2014 in Changsha, China.  Cao will give a presentation on tung oil biosynthesis pathway and an overview of tung tree and tung oil research in the US.   He will also visit a tung tree orchard in another location where he will analyze and write a tung tree genome paper, discuss organizing a potential international conference in tung and other oil trees; discuss establishing a national research center in tung tree and other oil trees; and meet with faculty and graduate students there and discuss their research for publishing their results in good SCI journals. Cao was invited by Xiaofeng Tan, Professor and Director of the Key Lab of Cultivation and Protection for Non-Wood Forest Trees Ministry of Education at the Central South University of Forestry and Technology.

ARS researcher Peter Cotty, Food & Feed Safety Research Unit in Tucson, AZ will be co-presenting a paper with Ranajit Bandyopadhyay of CGIAR, Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, titled “Advances in Biological Control of Aflatoxins” in a symposium special session, August 9-13, 2014 in Minneapolis, MN.  The meeting will cover various topics on plant pathology.  The formats for discussions will include: special sessions, technical sessions, and posters. There will be more than 30 companies that will showcase their latest products and services.


ARS scientist, Sophie Uchimiya, Commodity Utilization Research Unit, New Orleans, LA has been invited to give an oral presentation entitled “Role of naturally-occurring chelating agents on the interaction of biochars with Cd(II) and Sb(V)” at the American Chemical Society National Meeting (ACS), August 10-14, 2014, San Francisco, CA.  Uchimiya is also the chair of the Award Committee within the Division of Environmental Chemistry and co-chair of the Toxicology of Environmental Pollutants Symposium. This is the largest technical conference held to exchange research outcomes in the field of chemistry.


ARS researcher Chris Mattison, Food Processing & Sensory Quality Research Unit, New Orleans, LA will attend the American Chemical Society National Meeting (ACS), August 11-13, 2014, San Francisco, CA.  He will present a paper titled, “Food Allergens: Identification, Detection, Characterization and Mitigation.”  He will also give a talk on August 11, titled, “Processing routes to reduce lgE binding to cashew allergens” at the ACS meeting.


Memorandum of Agreement/Understanding in progress or nearing completion:


30-60 Day Look-Ahead


Upcoming Press Releases:


Stakeholder Announcements:




Potential Legal Issues


Legislative or Policy Issues


News Clips:






ARS News Articles

USDA Soil Lab Celebrates 75 Years of Innovative Research
Nov 18, 2010
Last Modified: 7/24/2014