Newsletter Scientifique #16 - May 2013



We would like to start our newsletter by congratulating two French scientists who became members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences : Henri Berestycki (École des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales and University of Chicago) and Serge Haroche (Nobel Prize Winner in Physics, École Normale Superieure).

In Chicago, a Health, Technology, and Innovation Center will be built to improve research and innovation, and create jobs in Illinois. 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



Two French Scientists become member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences - April 2013

In 2013, two French Scientists have become a new member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences :

  • Berestycki, Henri, Research Professor, Director of Mathematics Division, École des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, and Associate Professor at the University of Chicago.
  • Haroche, Serge, Professor and Chair in Quantum Physics, Collège de France; Professor, École Normale Superieure, Paris, France. He’s the lastest French person who received a Nobel Prize : Nobel Prize in Physics in 2012. Prize motivation: "for ground-breaking experimental methods that enable measuring and manipulation of individual quantum systems". Read more


Scientific Mediation Seminar on Water Management - April 17-19

The UN named 2013 as the International Year of Water Cooperation, an issue which requires a multidisciplinary approach. On that theme of international cooperation, the Office for Science and Technology at the French Consulate in Chicago sponsored a seminar/roundtable discussion on “Scientific Mediation and Water Management” from April 17-19. The event inspired two new ideas for projects for encouraging responsible, innovative water management: Best Water which wants to promote low-cost low-maintenance system for addressing quality and quantity issues by freeing water volumes of better quality (student age 12+); and the Diamond Water Project aimed to transmit knowledge about water from country to country (local policy influence, science exchange, cooperation) (student 14 to 18). For more information, contact the French Office for Science and Technology in Chicago at


Illinois, U of I launching life-sciences startup incubator in Chicago - April 22nd

The state of Illinois and the University of Illinois plan to announce a new incubator for life-sciences startups on the Illinois Medical District campus. The incubator — called Health, Technology, Innovation at the Chicago Technology Park — will be 12,000 square feet and include laboratory and office space on the medical district campus, as the area around the University of Illinois Hospital on the West Side is known. Read more

Science & Technology in the US

National News


U. S. Has Surprisingly Large Reservoir of Crop Plant Diversity - April 29th

North America isn’t known as a hotspot for crop plant diversity, yet a new inventory has uncovered nearly 4,600 wild relatives of crop plants in the United States, including close relatives of globally important food crops such as sunflower, bean, sweet potato, and strawberry. The findings, which were published on April 29th in the journal Crop Science, are good news for plant breeders, who’ve relied increasingly in recent years on the wild kin of domesticated crops as new sources of disease resistance, drought tolerance, and other traits. Read more

Report on the National Stakeholders Conference on Honey Bee Health - May 2013

In response to unexplained losses of U.S. honey bee (Apis mellifera) colonies that began to be reported in 2006 as a condition named Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) established a Colony Collapse Steering Committee to lead an effort to define an approach for understanding and resolving the problem. CCD is characterized by the sudden loss of worker adults from managed hives, leading to the eventual collapse of the entire colony within a few weeks. It is a complex phenomenon, because several factors seem to be interacting to cause CCD. Read more


Researchers target acrylamide reduction in potato chips - April 15th

Potato varieties, blanching times and frying temperatures can all affect acrylamide levels in potato chips, according to a study just published in the Journal of the Science of Food & Agriculture. Acrylamide is a known neurotoxin and a suspected carcinogen, formed by a heat-induced reaction between sugar and the amino acid asparagine at temperatures above 120°C. The process - known as the Maillard reaction - is responsible for the brown colour and tasty flavour of baked, fried and toasted food. Read more

USDA and Dairy Producers Renew Agreement to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Increase Sustainability of Dairy Production - April 24th

Agriculture Secretary Vilsack today renewed a historic agreement with U.S. dairy producers to accelerate the adoption of innovative waste-to-energy projects and energy efficiency improvements on U.S. dairy farms, both of which help producers diversify revenues and reduce utility expenses on their operations.. The pact extends a Memorandum of Understanding signed in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 2009. "Through this renewed commitment, USDA and the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy will continue research that helps dairy farmers improve the sustainability of their operations," Vilsack said. "This vital research also will support the dairy industry as it works to reach its long-term goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020." Read more


New Advance in Biofuel Production - May 9th

Advanced biofuels — liquid fuels synthesized from the sugars in cellulosic biomass — offer a clean, green and renewable alternative to gasoline, diesel and jet fuels. Bringing the costs of producing these advanced biofuels down to competitive levels with petrofuels, however, is a major challenge. Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI), a bioenergy research center led by Berkeley Lab, have taken another step towards meeting this challenge with the development of a new technique for pre-treating cellulosic biomass with ionic liquids — salts that are liquids rather than crystals at room temperature. Read more

Midwest news


New imaging technology could reveal cellular secrets - April 25th

Researchers at Purdue University have married two biological imaging technologies, creating a new way to learn how good cells go bad. Such an advance makes it possible to simultaneously study the mechanical and biochemical behavior of cells, which could provide new insights into disease processes. Being able to study a cell’s internal workings in fine detail would likely yield insights into the physical and biochemical responses to its environment. Read more


Getting to the root of horseradish root problems - April 15th

Approximately 55 percent of the horseradish produced in the United States is grown in the Collinsville, Ill., area, the self-proclaimed “Horseradish Capital of the World.” The product is of such high quality that Europeans import it for gourmet and industrial use. But when crop sciences professor Mohammad Babadoost first arrived at the University of Illinois in 1999, he was told that growers had been experiencing significant yield reductions due to internal discoloring and root rot. U of I researchers have been looking at various bacteria and fungi for more than 30 years, trying to identify the agents causing the problem. Read more

Without Adequate Funding, Deadly Wheat Disease Could Threaten Global Food Supplies - April 15th

Disease-resistant wheat developed over the past half century helped ensure steady world food supplies, but a global team led by researchers from the University of Minnesota warns in a new paper that without increased financial support for disease resistance research, new strains of a deadly fungal disease could leave millions without affordable access to food. The study, published in the current edition of the journal Science, examines how Ug99 — new virulent forms of stem rust first found in Uganda in 1999 — could continue its movement across Africa, the Middle East and southwest Asia. Read more

Fertility needs in high-yielding corn production - April 18th

Although advances in agronomy, breeding, and biotechnology have dramatically increased corn grain yields, soil test values indicate that producers may not be supplying optimal nutrient levels. Moreover, many current nutrient recommendations, developed decades ago using outdated agronomic management practices and lower-yielding, non-transgenic hybrids, may need adjusting. Researchers with the University of Illinois Crop Physiology Laboratory have been re-evaluating nutrient uptake and partitioning in modern corn hybrids. Read more

A Modeling Milestone for Soil Phosphorus Management -April 18th

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is looking for ways to upgrade the Phosphorus Index, a simple management tool developed during the 1990s to gauge the risk of phosphorus losses from agricultural fields. In developing a national nutrient-management policy, NRCS allowed states to modify the original index—a matrix of source and transport factors that contribute to phosphorus loss—with inputs to account for local variations in soils, climate, management, and water quality goals. But this resulted in widely different state-by-state phosphorus indices that often didn’t agree with each other on how to manage phosphorus. Read more

Strengthening Legumes to Tackle Fertilizer Pollution - April 23rd

The overuse of nitrogen fertilizers in agriculture can wreak havoc on waterways, health and the environment. Researchers from the Center of Plant Genomics and Biotechnology at the Technical University of Madrid (UPM) and the Advanced Photon Source (APS) at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory report as an advance article April 5 for the Metallomics journal of The Royal Society of Chemistry on how to use X-ray analysis to map a path to increasing the amount of nitrogen that legumes deposit into the soil. Read more

Better Wheat Varieties in the Future? Wheat Genome Shows Resistance Genes Easy to Access - April 29th

Kansas State University researcher Bikram Gill and an international team of researchers have developed a physical map of wheat’s wild ancestor, Aegilops tauschii, commonly called goatgrass, as they take the first huge step toward sequencing the wheat genome — a complete look at wheat’s genetic matter. A physical map of a genome shows the physical locations of genes and other DNA sequences of interest. Scientists use them to identify and isolate genes that are responsible for different traits, such as disease resistance and days to maturity. The research was published in the April 22 edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Read more


In-package plasma process quickly, effectively kills bacteria - April 16th

Exposing packaged liquids, fruits and vegetables to an electrical field for just minutes might eliminate all traces of foodborne pathogens on those foods, according to a Purdue University study. Kevin Keener, a professor of food science, looks for new ways to kill harmful bacteria, such as E.coli and Salmonella, that contaminate foods and cause serious illnesses and deaths. His method uses electricity to generate a plasma, or ionized gas, from atmospheric gases inside the food package. Read more

Farm-raised Salmon Retains Healthy Omega-3s When Baked - May 13th

U.S. producers of farm-raised salmon are working hard to help fill today’s growing demand for seafood. Now U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) nutritionist Susan Raatz, physiologist Matthew Picklo, and cooperators have found that farm-raised Atlantic salmon maintains its healthy levels of omega-3 fatty acids when baked at the proper temperature. Read more


Research advances in conversion of wastes and algae to crude oil - April 12th

Yuanhui Zhang and Lance Schideman, both professors in the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, have combined their research efforts to develop an innovative system that uses swine manure to produce biocrude oil, grow algal biomass, capture carbon, purify wastewater, and recycle nutrients. Zhang has spent more than a decade researching the conversion of swine manure and biomass into crude oil. Schideman has done significant research in the area of integrated algal systems for wastewater treatment and bioenergy production. Read more

Purdue professor identifies proton pathway in photosynthesis - Aprl 19th

A Purdue University-led team has revealed the proton transfer pathway responsible for a majority of energy storage in photosynthesis. "The key to photosynthesis is the movement of electrical charge from a positive to a negative pole, just as in a battery," Cramer said. "In this case, the electrical charge is in the form of electrons and protons passed along by amino acids and water molecules in a ’bucket brigade’ through the cellular membrane. We identified and found the structure and orientation of the individual bucket carriers." Read more

New Bioenergy Yeast Is an Overachiever - May 2nd

Agricultural Research Service molecular biologist Zonglin Lewis Liu and his colleagues have identified a yeast strain for ethanol production that breaks down and ferments the sugars in corn cobs left behind after xylose has been extracted. And this takes place without the addition of a costly enzyme, a breakthrough that could help make cellulosic ethanol production a cost-effective proposition. The new strain of yeast, Clavispora NRRL Y-50464 (Y-50464), can tolerate cob-derived compounds that interfere with yeast growth and fermentation rates. Read more

Other states’ news


New Plant Protein Discoveries Could Ease Global Food and Fuel Demands - May 1st

New discoveries of the way plants transport important substances across their biological membranes to resist toxic metals and pests, increase salt and drought tolerance, control water loss and store sugar can have profound implications for increasing the supply of food and energy for our rapidly growing global population. That’s the conclusion of 12 leading plant biologists from around the world whose laboratories recently discovered important properties of plant transport proteins that, collectively, could have a profound impact on global agriculture. They report in the May 2nd issue of the journal Nature that the application of their findings could help the world meet its increasing demand for food and fuel as the global population grows from seven billion people to an estimated nine billion by 2050. Read more


Now non-food plants can help feed the world - April 16th

Researchers have produced starch from plants not usually used for food purposes, potentially opening up whole new sources for foods and packaging materials. The scientists, from US institute Virginia Tech, have developed a novel process involving cascading enzymes to transform cellulose into amylose starch. The substance is not broken down during the digestive process, acts as a good source of dietary fibre and studies have shown it can reduce the risk of obesity and diabetes. Read more

A key to mass extinctions could boost food, biofuel production - April 17th

In low doses, hydrogen sulfide could greatly enhance plant growth, leading to a sharp increase in global food supplies and plentiful stock for biofuel production, new University of Washington research shows. “We found some very interesting things, including that at the very lowest levels plant health improves. But that’s not what we were looking for,” said Frederick Dooley, a UW doctoral student in biology. They used a concentration of 1 part per billion or less of hydrogen sulfide to water seeds of peas, beans and wheat on a weekly basis. With wheat, all the seeds germinated in one to two days instead of four or five, and with peas and beans the typical 40 percent rate of germination rose to 60 to 70 percent. Read more

Electron-beam pasteurization of raw oysters may reduce viral food poisoning - April 30th

According to the Centers for Disease Control, about one in six Americans gets food poisoning each year. Additionally, virus infection risks from consumption of raw oysters in the U.S. are estimated to cost around $200 million a year. To address the issue of health risk from eating raw oysters, Texas A&M University graduate student Chandni Praveen, along with Texas A&M AgriLife Research scientist Dr. Suresh Pillai and a team of researchers from other agencies and institutions, studied how electron-beam pasteurization of raw oysters may reduce the possibility of food poisoning through virus. The results of this study will be published in the June issue of the leading microbiology journal, Applied and Environmental Microbiology. Read more


Monitoring, diagnostics tackle algae biofuel pond crash problem - April 12th

Sandia National Laboratories is developing a suite of complementary technologies to help the emerging algae industry detect and quickly recover from algal pond crashes, an obstacle to large-scale algae cultivation for future biofuels. The research, which focuses on monitoring and diagnosing algal pond health, draws upon Sandia’s longstanding expertise in microfluidics technology, its strong bioscience research program and significant internal investments. Read more

Science & Technology in France

At the National level


Foodborne illness, changing lifestyles and food production - May 15th

Considered as a natural disaster, health food risk is now considered unacceptable because of the improvements in food safety, the development of food preservation techniques and the establishment of monitoring procedures. Consumer demands are higher due to the technical improvements and the development, in recent years, of spectacular food crises. This note provides an overview of the main factors of food poisoning since 1960 and highlights the impact of changes in production patterns and lifestyles on the impact of these risks. Read more [French article]

Companies and Research Cluster


Assessment of cumulative risks: ANSES contributes to the development of methods for plant protection products - March 29th

The assessment of the cumulative risks of chemicals is currently one of the major challenges in the understanding and management of risks. With regard to pesticides and their residues, assessment methods are currently under development and tend toward the grouping together of substances with effects on the same organs and/or those that share mechanisms of action. Within this perspective, ANSES, in partnership with the Dutch RIVM (National Institute for Public Health and the Environment) and Italian ICPS (International Centre for Pesticides and Health Risk Prevention), has answered a call for tenders by the European Food Safety Authority. The results obtained will contribute to defining groups of substances to integrate into an assessment of cumulative risks. Read more


Opinion of the ANSES on the assessment of the risks associated with bisphenol A for human health, and on toxicological data - March 2013

In 2009, the French Ministry of Health asked INSERM and various health agencies, the ANSM (formerly AFSSAPS), ANSES, the InVS and INPES, to study the issue of endocrine disruptors. ANSES’s work on BPA is therefore structured within the assessment framework for about thirty potential endocrine disrupting substances (bisphenols, phthalates, parabens, perfluorinated and brominated compounds, alkylphenols, etc.) and a second request specific to bisphenol A from the French Ministry of Ecology. The Agency has been studying the issue of BPA since 2008 and has published several Opinions and documents on this topic. Read more

Wine-making wasps - April 9th

INRA researchers in Montpellier, and their Italian colleagues, have for the first time demonstrated the essential role played by wasps in maintaining the presence of yeasts in grapes from year to year. Because these yeasts are essential to wine fermentation, it is clearly important to clearly understand these fauna-flora relationships within the vine ecosystem. These findings were published in 2012 in the journal PNAS. Read more

bioMérieux launches automated test for rapid enumeration of total flora in food - April 18th

bioMérieux has launched an automated test which it claims enumerates total flora in food products and environmental samples in 24 hours. The TEMPO AC test will help agri-food laboratories to save time and release their product faster and has obtained the AOAC RI (Research Institute) validation. Read more


Biofuels from plant debris tested in Haute-Marne - April 24th

Air Liquide company and the French Commission for Atomic Energy and Alternative Energies (CEA) signed an agreement for the development of a new process to convert biomass into synthesis gas (known as transformation BtS or Biomass to syngas). CEA will take care of biomass pretreatment and Air Liquide company will experience a oxyreductor. Read more (French article)

Get in touch with science

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:


Website to see this month

For the United States information

Federal agencies

JPEG : The United States Department of Agriculture releases an article about the next farm bill, and a second one about the new rules to expand access to Farmers’ Markets.

JPEG The US Food and Drug Administration gives you information about food safety and how to keep the food safe. It also releases its latest reports and investigation.

JPEGhttp:// Fermilab publishes its latest results on the hunt for dark Matter with the Cryogenic Dark Matter Search experiment.

News articles

JPEG : News from the United States covering advancements in science and technology (French articles).

For France information

Research centers

JPEG : The French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety released its latest reports on bisphenol A, the use of zinc oxide in the diet of piglets, and the risks related to contamination of delicatessen meats products derived from raw pork liver with hepatitis E virus.

JPEG : The French National Institute for Agricultural Research gives you information on its agrigenomics research center and its latest recruitment.

Information centers

JPEG : News from France on advancements in science and technology (French articles).

JPEG : Discover the French Environmental Transition: a roadmap.

Coming events
International Symposium on Salmonella and Salmonellosis Palais du Grand Large – Quai Duguay Trouin Saint Malo (France) May 27-29, 2013
Recycling of organic residues for agriculture: from waste management to ecosystem services Université de Versailles St-Quentin-en-Yvellines, Versailles (France) June 3-5, 2013
23rd Annual World Forum and Symposium Cobb Galleria Centre Atlanta, Georgia June 16-20, 2013
Joint Annual Meeting of the American Dairy Science Association and the American Society of Animal Science Indianapolis, Indiana July 8-12, 2013
IFT International Food Nanoscience Conference Hilton Chicago Chicago, Illinois July 12-13, 2013


French Office for Science and Technology at the Embassy of France in Washington, DC - website:
Consulate General of France in Chicago - website:


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Last modified on 17/05/2013

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