Newsletter Scientifique #13 - February 2013
We would like to start with news that the Joint Programming Initiative on Agriculture, Food Security and Climate Change coordinated by NIFA (USDA) for the United States has launched an international call to work for the reduction of agricultural greenhouse gas.
The optimization of agriculture and biofuel process continue to be a major topic in the new research and development projects. The result of those new advanced are available through the articles below.
Also, INRA is recruiting 41 scientists to work in France in 2013 to reinforce existing teams. You will find the link in the "Highlights" section.
Enjoy your read!
Adèle Martial, Scientific attaché
Cécile Camerlynck, Deputy Scientific attaché
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Table of contents
- Science & Technology in the US
- Midwest news
- Other states’ news
- USDA Studies Confirm Plant Water Demands Shift with Water Availability - Jan 22nd
- Breakthrough: How Salt Stops Plant Growth - Jan 23rd
- Helping Citrus Growers Deal With a Nasty Invader - Jan 25th
- UC Davis helps global team sequence chickpea genome - Jan 28th
- Plant scientists at CSHL demonstrate new means of boosting maize yields - Feb 3rd
- USDA Scientists Say Mix-and-Match Cover Cropping Can Optimize Organic Production - Feb 4th
- New Club Wheat Holding Its Own Against Fungal Disease - Feb 14th
- UC Davis reveals genetic diversity of genes in peppers - Feb 14th
- Cows Fed Flaxseed Produce More Nutritious Dairy Products - Jan 25th
- X-rays reveal uptake of nanoparticles by soya bean crops - Feb 6th
- Texas researcher looks into biodiesel production from lignin - Jan 17th
- Lawrence Berkeley Lab says principle proven on new ionic liquid pretreatment process for biofuels - Jan 28th
- Three cellulosic biofuels technologies available from Berkeley Lab - Feb 4th
- Scientists Turn Toxic By-Product Into Biofuel Booster - Feb 4th
- Newly Discovered Plant Structure May Lead to Improved Biofuel Processing - Feb 5th
- Science & Technology in France
- Institutions / Universities
- Companies and Research Cluster
- Get in touch with science
First agricultural institute in Europe and second in the world, the French National Institute for Agricultural Research is recruiting in the following domains:
- agronomy and ecology of landscapes
- community ecology
- animal health economics
- quantitative genetics and genomics
- process engineering, physics and soils chemistry
- mathematics and modeling
- modeling in cell biology and biology of organisms
- nutrition and physiology
- veterinary sciences and immunology
- sociology and organizational sciences.
Applications from January 24th to February 28th.
The challenge of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture requires a global strategic approach and cooperation between national research programmes. To this end, the Joint Programming Initiative on Agriculture, Food Security and Climate Change (FACCE – JPI) announced today the opening of an international multi-partner call on agricultural greenhouse gas (GHG) research bringing together 11 countries of FACCE – JPI as well as Canada, New Zealand and the United States. Read more
According to Reuters, snacks sold in U.S. schools would need to be lower in fat, salt, and sugar and include more nutritious items like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, under new potential standards released on Feb. 1, by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA). The proposal, more than a year overdue, also calls for the nation’s public schools to ensure individual food and drink items sold in vending machines and other venues during the school day be 200 calories or less, USDA said. The proposed rules are the second step in a larger effort to improve the foods U.S. students have access to during the school day under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, aimed at improving childhood nutrition and combating obesity. The rules would not cover items sold at various after-hours activities, such as sporting events. In addition, they would allow for “important traditions,” such as parents sending cookies or cupcakes to school for a child’s birthday, or “occasional fundraisers and bake sales.” Read more
Calories per pack or per serving? Why small changes to the Nutrition Facts panel could make a big difference - Feb 1st
Ever eaten a grab-bag of chips or a 20oz bottle of Mountain Dew only to discover you’ve just wolfed down twice the calories you thought because these products - which are typically eaten in one sitting - contain two or more servings per container? According to new research, you are not alone. In more than 9,000 online interviews, Amy Lando MPP and Serena Lo PhD from the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, asked consumers to compare new formats for Nutrition Facts labels on products that contain two servings but are customarily consumed in one go. The FDA-funded research, published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics , revealed that spelling out how many calories are in the whole container/package helped shoppers trying to make healthier choices at a glance. Read more
New DOE Research: RFS a Proven Economic Success with Minimal Impact on Food Prices or Land Use - Feb 4th
A new research article published last month in the academic journal Biofuels concluded that the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) is producing significant positive economic effects in the United States. According to the paper, authored by researchers at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), the RFS is reducing crude oil prices, decreasing crude oil imports, increasing gross domestic product (GDP), and having only minimal impacts on global food markets and land use. In the future, full implementation of the RFS’ advanced biofuel requirements will substantially amplify these economic benefits, the study found. Commenting on the ORNL findings, Bob Dinneen, President and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) said, “As Congress returns and hearings are scheduled, Big Oil and Big Food will undoubtedly ramp up their multi-million dollar campaign to smear the RFS. Rather than listening to well-heeled oil lobbyists or giving credence to sham ‘studies’ funded by grocery manufacturers, let’s allow independently funded, unbiased, third-party research — like this study from ORNL — to guide the debate.” Read more
While much of the nation’s crops withered under last year’s punishing drought, Michigan State University researchers dramatically increased corn and vegetable production on test farms using revolutionary new water-saving membranes. The subsurface water retention technology process was developed by Alvin Smucker, MSU professor of soil biophysics and MSU AgBioResearch scientist. His invention uses contoured, engineered films, strategically placed at various depths below a plant’s root zone to retain soil water. Proper spacing also permits internal drainage during excess rainfall and provides space for root growth. Read more
In the coming decades, climate change will lead to more frequent and more intense Midwest heat waves while degrading air and water quality and threatening public health. Intense rainstorms and floods will become more common, and existing risks to the Great Lakes will be exacerbated. Those are some of the conclusions contained in the Midwest chapter of a draft report released last week by the federal government that assesses the key impacts of climate change on every region in the country and analyzes its likely effects on human health, water, energy, transportation, agriculture, forests, ecosystems and biodiversity. Three University of Michigan researchers were lead convening authors of chapters in the 1,100-plus-page National Climate Assessment, which was written by a team of more than 240 scientists. Read more
When energy officials proposed using crop residues to produce cellulosic ethanol, concerned soil scientists took to the fields to learn more about how these residues protect soil from erosion and enhance soil quality. Agricultural Research Service soil scientist Brian Wienhold focused on a single component of residue - the corncob. “We didn’t have data on how postharvest cob residues might protect soil quality,” says Wienhold, who works in the ARS Agroecosystem Management Research Unit in Lincoln, Nebraska. “But corncobs make up 20 percent of residue by weight, which means that the average U.S. production of corn could provide 40 to 50 million tons of cobs for feedstock every year.” Wienhold led colleagues in studies that compared runoff from no-till corn fields where postharvest crop residues were either removed or retained. The scientists also removed the cobs from half of the test plots that were protected by the residues. Then they generated two simulated rainfall events; the first occurred when the fields were dry, and the next occurred 24 hours later when the soils were almost completely saturated. Read more
Plants can adapt to extreme shifts in water availability, such as drought and flooding, but their ability to withstand these extreme patterns will be tested by future climate change, according to a study by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists and their cooperators. The study was published this week in Nature by a team of Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists led by Guillermo Ponce Campos and Susan Moran and an Australian team led by Alfredo Huete from the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS). This research included contributions from nine other ARS scientists, four U.S. Forest Service scientists, and colleagues from the University of Arizona, the University of California-Irvine, and UTS."In the United States, much of our agricultural productivity has depended on long-term precipitation regimes. Read more
Until now it has not been clear how salt, a scourge to agriculture, halts the growth of the plant-root system. A team of researchers, led by the Carnegie Institution’s José Dinneny and Lina Duan, found that not all types of roots are equally inhibited. They discovered that an inner layer of tissue in the branching roots that anchor the plant is sensitive to salt and activates a stress hormone, which stops root growth. The study, published in the current issue of The Plant Cell, is a boon for understanding the stress response and for developing salt-resistant crops. Salt accumulates in irrigated soils due to the evaporation of water, which leaves salt behind. The United Nations estimates that salinity affects crops on about 200 million acres (80 million hectares) of arable land and not just in developing countries, but areas such as California as well. Read more
Growers battling a devastating citrus disease may soon benefit from a one-two punch from Florida researchers. Two Agricultural Research Service scientists at the U.S. Horticultural Research Laboratory in Fort Pierce are using two very different strategies to help citrus growers and processors deal with Huanglongbing (HLB), a disease that poses a major threat to the survival of the citrus industry and is costing it millions of dollars each year. Elizabeth Baldwin, research leader of the Citrus and Subtropical Products Research Unit, is leading a team developing technology that orange juice processors can use to determine whether their product has the right taste. David Hall, research leader of the Subtropical Insects Research Unit, has found a way to better exploit a fungus that naturally controls HLB. Read more
An international team of scientists has sequenced the genome of the chickpea, a critically important crop in many parts of the world, especially for small-farm operators in marginal environments of Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, according to an announcement from researchers at the University of California, Davis, and the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics in India. The researchers published this week in the online version of the journal Nature Biotechnology the reference genome of the chickpea variety known as CDC Frontier and the genome sequence of 90 cultivated and wild chickpea lines from 10 different countries. “The importance of this new resource for chickpea improvement cannot be overstated,” said Douglas Cook, a UC Davis professor of plant pathology. “The sequencing of the chickpea provides genetic information that will help plant breeders develop highly productive chickpea varieties that can better tolerate drought and resist disease — traits that are particularly important in light of the threat of global climate change,” he said. Read more
A team of plant geneticists at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) has successfully demonstrated what it describes as a "simple hypothesis" for making significant increases in yields for the maize plant. Called corn by most people in North America, modern variants of the Zea mays plant are among the indispensable food crops that feed billions of the planet’s people. As global population soars beyond 6 billion and heads for an estimated 8 to 9 billion by mid-century, efforts to boost yields of essential food crops takes on ever greater potential significance. The new findings obtained by CSHL Professor David Jackson and colleagues, published online February 3 in Nature Genetics, represent the culmination of over a decade of research and creative thinking on how to perform genetic manipulations in maize that will have the effect of increasing the number of its seeds — which most of us call kernels. Read more
“We can obtain important results from short-term field studies, but they don’t always capture year-to-year variability. Long-term research often provides more reliable results that farmers need,” says Agricultural Research Service horticulturist Eric Brennan. Brennan speaks from personal experience. In 2003, he and a team of University of California-Davis collaborators began a 2-year field study that evolved into a unique long-term investigation of high-value organic cropping. The project, the Salinas Organic Cropping Systems trial, is being conducted on an ARS research farm and is now in its 10th year of certified organic production. Brennan, who works in the ARS Crop Improvement and Protection Research Unit in Salinas, California, is analyzing a huge collection of data to pinpoint findings that can benefit commercial producers of organic crops. Read more
Pacific Northwest wheat growers now have added insurance against outbreaks of yield-robbing fungi, thanks to Cara, a soft, white, winter club wheat cultivar developed by the Agricultural Research Service that boasts high levels of disease resistance and outstanding flour quality. Washington State accounts for 77 percent, or 230,000 acres, of the entire U.S. club wheat crop, with the remainder produced in Oregon and Idaho. Much of the acreage in Washington and Oregon is planted with three cultivars: Bruehl, Cara, and Chukar. Spring-sown club wheat cultivars JD and Eden are grown on another 11,000 acres. Although several other winter club wheats are available, there’s been a push to broaden the specialty crop’s genetic diversity, especially amid the latest fungal disease flareup. Read more
From the small, spicy Thai chiles to the portly, mild bell pepper, researchers at the University of California, Davis, have developed a “family tree” of sorts for peppers and characterized the diversity of genes found in a collection of common cultivated pepper varieties. Findings from the study, which sampled 30,000 genes of the Capsicum annum species, reveal intriguing details about the relationships between these different types of peppers and the incredible genetic diversity among the spicy peppers. This genetic information will be critically important to plant breeders for developing hardier, higher yielding plants for production around the world. For example, many sources of drought- and disease-resistance are found in the tiny, wild, spicy peppers that are difficult to cultivate and not appealing to consumers. But transferring these traits through cross-pollination into more commonly cultivated peppers can take years. This process can be done more quickly and affordably with the ability to use DNA markers to follow genes important to producing different types of cultivated peppers. Read more
Dairy cows that are fed flaxseed produce more nutritious milk, according to a new study by Oregon State University. Their milk contained more omega-3 fatty acids and less saturated fat, the study found. Diets high in saturated fat can increase cholesterol and cause heart disease, while those rich in omega-3 and other polyunsaturated fatty acids may reduce the risk of heart disease, studies have shown. Traditional cattle feed mixtures of corn, grains, alfalfa hay and grass silage result in dairy products with low concentrations of omega-3 and other polyunsaturated fats, according to Gerd Bobe, the lead scientist on the study, which has been published online in the Journal of Dairy Science. Read more
Scientists have, for the first time, traced the nanoparticles taken up from the soil by crop plants and analysed the chemical states of their metallic elements. Zinc was shown to dissolve and accumulate throughout the plants, whereas the element cerium did not dissolve into plant tissue. The results contribute to the controversial debate on plant toxicity of nanoparticles and whether engineered nanoparticles can enter into the food chain. The study was published on 6 February 2013 in the journal ACS Nano. The international research team was led by Jorge Gardea-Torresdey from the University of Texas in El Paso and also comprised scientists from the University of California in Santa Barbara, the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in Stanford (California), and the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility in Grenoble (France). The high reactivity of the nanoparticles has raised concerns about their fate, transport and toxicity in the environment. "A growing number of products containing ENPs are in the market and eventually they will get into the soil, water and air. This is why it is very important to study the interactions of crops with nanoparticles, as their possible translocation into the food chain starts here." says Jorge Gardea-Torresdey, a Professor and Chair of the Department of Chemistry at the University of Texas at El Paso. Read more
A two-year research project aims to crack the lignin question by engineering a microbe to break down the byproduct into a lipid, or fat, and then into biodiesel. The research has the potential to make cellulosic ethanol refineries more profitable, while providing new feedstock for biodiesel production growth. “According to one of my calculations, if all of the lignin produced from cellulosic ethanol [was] used for biodiesel, a conservative estimation is that 1.8 billion gallon of biodiesel can be produced,” said Joshua Yuan, a Texas A&M University AgriLife Research plant pathologist and lead researcher on the project, adding that it has the potential to contribute about 10 percent of total advanced biofuel production. Read more
In California, Lawrence Berkeley Lab has developed a new technology that enables the engineering of host microorganisms suitable for biofuel processing using ionic liquid pretreatment. It may also enable fermentation under septic conditions, since invasive organisms are unlikely to tolerate ionic liquid residuals at the concentrations tolerated by the JBEI host. Since ionic liquid can be toxic to microbes, such as E. coli, used in downstream biofuel processing steps, current methods using ionic liquid pretreatment require the ionic liquids to be thoroughly washed out of the hydrolysate before microbes are added. Relaxing the requirement to remove ionic liquids between the pretreatment and biofuel production stages improves the cost effectiveness of ionic liquid pretreatment, which is noted for its improved sugar recovery. Read more
In California, the Berkeley Lab is highlighting a trio of new technologies as licensing opportunities. Rapid Discovery and Optimization of Enzymes Solutions Using Tagged Biomass and Mass Spectrometry, a technology to create a more efficient workflow for hydrolytic enzyme discovery and enzyme cocktail optimization; Ligninolytic Enzyme Production, a technology to increase production of naturally derived lignin from a novel strain of white-rot fungus ;and Cellulose Degradation Using Sulfolobus Enzymes, a technology enabling an extremophilic archaeal microbe to produce acid- and heat-resistant enzymes. Read more
Scientists studying an enzyme that naturally produces alkanes — long carbon-chain molecules that could be a direct replacement for the hydrocarbons in gasoline — have figured out why the natural reaction typically stops after three to five cycles. Armed with that knowledge, they’ve devised a strategy to keep the reaction going. The biochemical details — worked out at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory and described in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences the week of February 4, 2013 — renew interest in using the enzyme in bacteria, algae, or plants to produce biofuels that need no further processing. "Alkanes are very similar to the carbon-chain molecules in gasoline. They represent a potential renewable alternative to replace the petrochemical component of gasoline," said Brookhaven biochemist John Shanklin, who led the research, which was conducted in large part by former Brookhaven postdoc Carl Andre, now working at BASF Plant Science in North Carolina, and Xiaohong Yu of Brookhaven’s Biosciences Department. "Unlike the process of breaking down plant biomass to sugars and fermenting them to ethanol," Shanklin said, "biologically produced alkanes could be extracted and used directly as fuel." Read more
When Li Tan approached his colleagues at the University of Georgia with some unusual data he had collected, they initially seemed convinced that his experiment had become contaminated; what he was seeing simply didn’t make any sense. Tan was examining some of the sugars, proteins and polymers that make up plant cell walls, which provide the structural support and protection that allow plants to grow. Yet his samples contained a mixture of sugars that should not be present in the same structure. However, Tan was convinced that his samples were pure so he and Debra Mohnen, who heads the lab, met again to pore over the data. They came to realize that there were hints in the data of a connection between two different types of cell wall glycans (sugars) and a specific cell wall protein known as arabinogalactan protein. This connection is not known to exist and does not conform to the commonly held scientific definitions of plant cell wall structure. Read more
2At the National level
Bee mortality and pesticides: ANSES’s reaction to the publication of an opinion by the European Food Safety Authority - Jan 16th
In opinions published today, the European Food Safety Authority in certain cases clearly emphasised bee colony health risks linked to exposure to insecticides containing three substances belonging to the neonicotinoid class. In other cases, risk assessments either could not be finalised due to insufficient data or were not possible because of a lack of data. These conclusions are mainly based on work conducted over the last few years to establish a new EU-level guideline document which will effectively account for all the currently-available scientific knowledge. In the wake of this EFSA opinion, which confirms certain doubts that were expressed by ANSES in its May 2012 opinion in answer to publication of a study on the harmful effects of a sublethal dose of a neonicotinoid substance on bee behaviour, the Agency is calling for finalisation of the new European guideline which will update assessment of substances and plant protection products within the framework of reinforced regulations on health risks for bee colonies. Read more
More frequent meals and snacks among primary school children may be associated with a lower risk of overweight and obesity, according to new research published in Public Health Nutrition.
Lower socioeconomic status and certain demographics have been associated with increased risk of obesity, but individual behaviours clearly are important too, the Bordeaux researchers wrote.
They examined food and activity habits among more than 4,000 French primary school children aged 5-7 in the Aquitaine region, and 3,600 children aged 7-11. Read more
Socioeconomic disparities and youth’s feeding: ANSES provides a status report on this subject - Feb 1st
The relationship between diet and socioeconomic level is poorly studied in children and adolescents in France. Expertise conducted by the ANSES (French Agency, Environmental & Occupational Health and Safety) on this subject shows a poorer nutritional quality of food in children and adolescents from disadvantaged backgrounds. It also highlights a lower consumption of fruits and vegetables and a higher consumption of sugary drinks. The report shows, however, a lower consumption of certain products containing sugar (sweets, cakes) in children and adolescents from disadvantaged backgrounds. It also highlights an equivalent consumption of fish regardless of the socioeconomic level of these children and adolescents. Income and parental education appears as an important determinant of the quality of food. Thus, nutritional value increases with the level of parental education. Read more (French article)
Unexpectedly, some crops such as maize or rapeseed have been found to act as carbon sinks, extracting CO2 from the atmosphere. However, others like sunflower and silage maize are carbon sources. These are the main conclusions of a study carried out by a research team from the Centre d’études spatiales de la biosphère (CESBIO, CNRS / Université Toulouse III - Paul Sabatier / CNES / IRD). Over seven years, researchers measured the carbon and water fluxes of two experimental field plots. Their results show that the environmental impact of agriculture can be reduced by the right cropping practices, making it possible for agriculture to reconcile environmental and agronomic objectives. This work was published in Agricultural and Forestry Meteorology on 15 January 2013. Read more
Many organizations give you the opportunity to learn and improve your mind about agriculture and food science. Please find below some of website about these:
• For the United States information
http://www.doe.gov/ : The department of Energy released the speech of President Obama about energy independence, climate change, and investing in energy technology.
http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome : The United States Department of Agriculture gives you information about the agricultural projections for the trade market, the farmers, and the products.
http://www.epa.gov/ : The Environmental Protection Agency published its latest grants and reports for environmental advanced.
http://http://www.fnal.gov//: You will find news about the latest projects at the Fermilab included NOvA.
http://nutrition.about.com/ : Information about the last researches and the new advanced for healthy eating.
http://www.bulletins-electroniques.com/ : News from the United States covering advancements in science and technology (French articles).
• For France information
http://www.anses.fr/ : The French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety released its latest report - e.g. "Bee mortality and pesticides" - and give you some information about the 2013 Paris International Agricultural Show in France will be hold at the end of February.
http://www.cnrs.fr/index.php : The French National Center for Scientific Research presents you the January issue of the CNRS International Magazine.
http://www.international.inra.fr/ : The French National Institute for Agricultural Research published a report about Probiotics active against listeriosis, and its new collaboration programs.
http://www.bulletins-electroniques.com/ : News from France on advancements in science and technology (French articles).
http://www.frenchfoodintheus.org/ : This site deals with food policy (obesity, eating habits, ...), addresses our efforts in research in this area, and provides summary sheets including French agriculture and food industries.
http://www.efsa.europa.eu/ : The European Food Safety Authority issues its advices on aspartame and livestock safety.
|Municipal Solid Waste to Biofuels & Bio-Products Summit||Omni Orlando Resort||Orlando, Florida||February 20-21, 2013|
|Agricultural Outlook Forum 2013||Crystal Gateway Marriott||Arlington, Virginia||February 21-22, 2013|
|Séminaire eau et sécurité alimentaire en Méditerranée||1000 Avenue Agropolis||34394 Montpellier Cedex 5, France||February 21-22, 2013|
|MOSES Organic Farming Conference||La Crosse Center||La Crosse, Wisconsin||February 21-23, 2013|
|Paris International Agricultural Show||1, place de la Porte de Versailles||75015 Paris, France||February 23- March 3, 2013|
|Energy Innovation Summit||Gaylord National Hotel and Convention Center - 201 Waterfront Street||National Harbor, MD 20745||February 25-27, 2013|
|Sustainable packaging||ONLINE||February 28, 2013|
|Food Vision 2013||Hotel Martinez, Boulevard La Croisette||Cannes, France||March 20-22, 2013|
|Climate-Smart Agriculture Global Science Conference||University of California||Davis, California||March 20-22, 2013|
|6th Annual Wind Conference||Iowa Events Center||Des Moines, Iowa||March 25-27, 2013|
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Last modified on 20/02/2013top of the page