blog posts Honey bee researcher Gene Robinson elected to National Academy of Medicine Oct 15, 2018 8:15 am2248 views Entomology professor Gene Robinson, an international leader in honey bee research, has been elected to the National Academy of Medicine “for pioneering contributions to understanding the roles of genes in social behavior.” Robinson directs the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Study: Human wastewater valuable to global agriculture, economics Aug 15, 2018 12:45 pm1849 views It may seem off-putting to some, but human waste is full of nutrients that can be recycled into valuable products that could promote agricultural sustainability and better economic independence for some developing countries. New algorithm fuses quality and quantity in satellite imagery Jun 4, 2018 8:30 am2534 views Using a new algorithm, University of Illinois researchers may have found the solution to an age-old dilemma plaguing satellite imagery – whether to sacrifice high spatial resolution in the interest of generating images more frequently, or vice versa. The team’s new tool eliminates this trade-off by fusing high-resolution and high-frequency satellite data into one integrated product, and can generate 30-meter daily continuous images going back to the year 2000. New technique can track drug and gene delivery to cells May 21, 2018 8:00 am1290 views University of Illinois researchers say they now know how to track and map drug and gene delivery vehicles to evaluate which are most effective at infiltrating cells and getting to their targets, insight that could guide development of new pharmaceutical agents. The researchers described their tracking system and their findings on the most effective delivery vehicles in the journal Nature Communications. Ag robot speeds data collection, analyses of crops as they grow Mar 12, 2018 8:45 am4547 views A new lightweight, low-cost agricultural robot, developed by a team of scientists at the University of Illinois, could transform data collection and field scouting for agronomists, seed companies and farmers. Scientists seeking rare river crayfish aren't just kicking rocks Feb 27, 2018 8:30 am983 views As far as anyone can tell, the cold-water crayfish Faxonius eupunctus makes its home in a 30-mile stretch of the Eleven Point River and nowhere else in the world. According to a new study, the animal is most abundant in the middle part its range, a rocky expanse in southern Missouri – with up to 35,000 cubic feet of chilly Ozark river water flowing by each second. Would replacing food stamps with food boxes reduce hunger? Feb 22, 2018 8:30 am1735 views Swapping food stamps for food boxes would mean scrapping 'the most successful government program we have going today,' said U. of I. professor Craig Gundersen Neuroimaging reveals lasting brain deficits in iron-deficient piglets Feb 20, 2018 4:30 pm889 views Iron deficiency in the first four weeks of a piglet’s life – equivalent to roughly four months in a human infant – impairs the development of key brain structures, scientists report. The abnormalities remain even after weeks of iron supplementation begun later in life, the researchers found. Agricultural fungicide attracts honey bees, study finds Jan 8, 2018 9:30 am4760 views When given the choice, honey bee foragers prefer to collect sugar syrup laced with the fungicide chlorothalonil over sugar syrup alone, researchers report in the journal Scientific Reports. Many Midwestern retailers sell mislabeled invasive vines Jan 8, 2018 9:00 am6541 views Gardeners hoping to celebrate the beauty of American bittersweet – a native vine that produces orange berries in the fall and is used for wreaths – may be unwittingly buying an invasive bittersweet instead. That’s because many Midwestern retailers are selling oriental bittersweet with labels misidentifying it as the native plant, researchers report. These sales are occurring in stores and online. Genomic study explores evolution of gentle ‘killer bees’ in Puerto Rico Nov 16, 2017 9:30 am3380 views A genomic study of Puerto Rico’s Africanized honey bees – which are more docile than other so-called “killer bees” – reveals that they retain most of the genetic traits of their African honey bee ancestors, but that a few regions of their DNA have become more like those of European honey bees. According to the researchers, these changes likely contributed to the bees’ rapid evolution toward gentleness in Puerto Rico, a change that occurred within 30 years. Scientists: Expanding Brazilian sugarcane could dent global CO2 emissions Oct 23, 2017 9:45 am3326 views Vastly expanding sugarcane production in Brazil for conversion to ethanol could reduce current global carbon dioxide emissions by as much as 5.6 percent, researchers report in the journal Nature Climate Change. Illinois sportfish recovery a result of 1972 Clean Water Act, scientists report Oct 18, 2017 9:45 am2249 views Populations of largemouth bass, bluegill, catfish and other sportfish are at the highest levels recorded in more than a century in the Illinois River, according to a new report. Their dramatic recovery, from populations close to zero near Chicago throughout much of the 20th century, began just after implementation of the Clean Water Act, the researchers say. Some plants grow bigger – and meaner – when clipped, study finds Oct 11, 2017 8:30 am3494 views Some plants behave like the mythical monster Hydra: Cut off their heads and they grow back, bigger and better than before. A new study finds that these “overcompensators,” as they are called, also augment their defensive chemistry – think plant venom – when they are clipped. Is our flood insurance model broken? Sep 8, 2017 8:30 am1021 views Craig Lemoine, the director of the Financial Planning Program at the College of ACES, discusses the flood insurance market in light of Hurricane Harvey losses. Should states be in the lottery business? Sep 5, 2017 1:00 pm638 views A major downside to record-breaking lottery jackpots is that money flows from poorer communities into the hands of one incredibly lucky person, said Craig Lemoine, the director of the Financial Planning Program at the College of ACES. Study links fish stress hormones to whether they take the bait Aug 22, 2017 10:00 am1493 views Take a fish out of water and its stress hormones will go up. Adrenaline and noradrenaline, the “fight or flight” hormones, peak first, followed more gradually by cortisol. A new study finds that largemouth bass whose cortisol levels rise most after a brief bout of stress are inherently harder to catch by angling. Study finds parallels between unresponsive honey bees, autism in humans Jul 31, 2017 2:00 pm2059 views Honey bees that consistently fail to respond to obvious social cues share something fundamental with autistic humans, researchers report in a new study. Genes most closely associated with autism spectrum disorders in humans are regulated differently in unresponsive honey bees than in their more responsive nest mates, the study found. Two undergrads improve plant carbon-cycle models Jul 24, 2017 10:00 am901 views In the summer of 2012, two undergraduate students tackled a problem that plant ecology experts had overlooked for 30 years. The students demonstrated that different plant species vary in how they take in carbon dioxide and emit water through stomata, the pores in their leaves. The data boosted the accuracy of mathematical models of carbon and water fluxes through plant leaves by 30 to 60 percent. Corn better used as food than biofuel, study finds Jun 20, 2017 9:00 am5584 views Corn is grown not only for food, it is also an important renewable energy source. Renewable biofuels can come with hidden economic and environmental issues, and the question of whether corn is better utilized as food or as a biofuel has persisted since ethanol came into use. For the first time, researchers at the University of Illinois have quantified and compared these issues in terms of economics of the entire production system to determine if the benefits of biofuel corn outweigh the costs. Genetic study shakes up the elephant family tree Jun 6, 2017 3:00 am11778 views New research reveals that a species of giant elephant that lived 1.5 million to 100,000 years ago – ranging across Eurasia before it went extinct – is more closely related to today’s African forest elephant than the forest elephant is to its nearest living relative, the African savanna elephant. Paper: Nutrition label readers favor food quality over quantity Apr 18, 2017 8:45 am1447 views Although nutrition-label users eat roughly the same amount of food as less-discerning diners, the two groups diverge when it comes to the quality of the food they eat, says a new paper co-written by Brenna Ellison, a professor of agriculture and consumer economics at Illinois and an expert in consumer food preferences and behaviors. Science at Illinois feeds the world, furthers health, protects the planet Apr 17, 2017 8:30 am1357 views Illinois scientists are helping power plants run more efficiently, designing better, longer-lasting batteries, finding new ways to target cancerous tumors, and developing robots that can aid in construction, in agricultural fields and even inside the human body. Team nebulizes aphids to knock down gene expression Mar 17, 2017 2:45 pm1041 views Researchers are nebulizing soybean aphids with RNA to speed the process of discovering the function of many mystery genes. Report: Milkweed losses may not fully explain monarch butterfly declines Mar 13, 2017 4:15 pm5117 views Monarch butterfly declines cannot be attributed merely to declines in milkweed abundance, researchers report. Hand-picked specialty crops ‘ripe’ for precision agriculture techniques Mar 2, 2017 9:15 am2976 views Using precision agriculture, researchers at the University of Illinois have developed an algorithm to help producers of hand-picked crops such as strawberries determine the optimal time to transport their highly perishable crop from the field to cold storage. Study rewrites early history of corn in corn country Feb 14, 2017 8:15 am2131 views A new study contradicts decades of thought, research and teaching on the history of corn cultivation in the American Bottom, a floodplain of the Mississippi River in Illinois. The study refutes the notion that Indian corn, or maize, was cultivated in this region hundreds of years before its widespread adoption at about 1000 A.D. Survival of many of the world’s nonhuman primates is in doubt, experts report Jan 18, 2017 1:00 pm1865 views A report in the journal Science Advances details the grim realities facing a majority of the nonhuman primates in the world – the apes, monkeys, tarsiers, lemurs and lorises inhabiting ever-shrinking forests across the planet. The review is the most comprehensive conducted so far, the researchers say, and the picture it paints is dire. Pollinator habitat program spreads bad seeds with the good Dec 7, 2016 8:30 am8272 views Weed scientists in at least two Midwestern states have been reporting for years that a conservation program meant to provide habitat for pollinating insects is sowing bad seeds – including seeds of the potentially devastating agricultural weed Palmer amaranth – along with the good. Now, researchers at the University of Illinois have traced the weed seeds to at least one source: pollinator habitat seed sold by a company in the Midwest. Eight Illinois researchers rank among world’s most influential Nov 18, 2016 9:15 am6811 views Eight University of Illinois researchers have been named to the Thomson Reuters / Clarivate Analytics Highly Cited Researchers list for 2016. The list identifies scientists “whose research has had significant global impact within their respective fields of study." Scientists tweak photosynthesis to boost crop yield Nov 17, 2016 1:00 pm5618 views Researchers report that they can increase plant productivity by boosting levels of three proteins involved in photosynthesis. This confirms a hypothesis some in the scientific community once doubted was possible. Livestock donation programs reduce poverty, improve food security and nutrition Oct 11, 2016 9:00 am1149 views Research from U. of I. agricultural economists Peter Goldsmith and Alex Winter-Nelson found that the direct donation of livestock to impoverished communities in rural Africa had numerous positive effects ranging from a reduction in poverty to an increase in gender empowerment. Illinois growers are running out of options in fight against waterhemp Sep 14, 2016 8:00 am1112 views Resistance to multiple herbicides is the new norm for populations of waterhemp, a common agricultural weed. With their herbicide options dwindling and nothing new on the horizon, Illinois growers must be strategic in how they manage waterhemp-infested fields, says a University of Illinois expert on crop weed management. Study: Future drought will offset benefits of higher CO2 on soybean yields Sep 5, 2016 10:00 am1880 views An eight-year study of soybeans grown outdoors in a carbon dioxide-rich atmosphere like that expected by 2050 has yielded a new and worrisome finding: Higher atmospheric CO2 concentrations will boost plant growth under ideal growing conditions, but drought – expected to worsen as the climate warms and rainfall patterns change – will outweigh those benefits and cause yield losses much sooner than anticipated. Measure of age in soil nitrogen could help precision agriculture Jul 25, 2016 8:00 am1813 views University of Illinois engineers developed a model to calculate the age of nitrogen in corn and soybean fields, which could lead to improved fertilizer application techniques to promote crop growth while reducing leaching. Kidwell named College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences dean Jul 15, 2016 9:15 am2792 views Currently the executive associate dean of the College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences at Washington State University, Kimberlee Kidwell will be the new U. of I. dean of the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences effective Nov. 1, pending approval by the University of Illinois Board of Trustees. She also will hold the inaugural Robert A. Easter Chair. U. of I. alumna Temple Grandin elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences Apr 21, 2016 9:30 am2329 views Temple Grandin, a University of Illinois alumna and a professor of animal sciences at Colorado State University, has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Study suggests commercial bumble bee industry amplified a fungal pathogen of bees Apr 4, 2016 2:00 pm2575 views Scientists hoping to explain widespread declines in wild bumble bee populations have conducted the first long-term genetic study of Nosema bombi, a key fungal pathogen of honey bees and bumble bees. Their study found that Nosema infections in large-scale commercial bumble bee pollination operations coincided with infections and declines in wild bumble bees. Giant reed is a photosynthetic outlier, study finds Mar 7, 2016 11:30 am1356 views Arundo donax, a giant reed that grows in the Mediterranean climate zones of the world, isn’t like other prolific warm-weather grasses, researchers report. This grass, which can grow annually to 6 meters (nearly 20 feet) in height, uses a type of photosynthesis that is more common to crop plants like soybeans, rice and peanuts. Consumer perception of organic foods affected by food type and where they’re sold Jan 14, 2016 9:00 am1047 views The organic food industry has grown from fresh produce and grains to snack foods and condiments – from farmers markets to supercenters. Has this new variety in organic products, and the availability of them, affected consumers’ perceptions? Study: Second-generation biofuels can reduce emissions Jan 11, 2016 10:30 am1685 views Second-generation biofuel crops like the perennial grasses Miscanthus and switchgrass can efficiently meet emission reduction goals without significantly displacing cropland used for food production, according to a new study. Researchers from the University of Illinois and collaborators published their findings in the inaugural edition of the journal Nature Energy. The researchers call it the most comprehensive study on the subject to date. Seven Illinois researchers rank among the world’s most influential Dec 21, 2015 9:15 am8526 views Seven University of Illinois researchers have been named to the Thomson Reuters Highly Cited Researchers list for 2015. The list includes “some of the world’s most influential scientific minds,” according to a statement from Thomson Reuters. Export of wood pellets from US to EU more environmentally friendly than coal Nov 20, 2015 9:30 am1510 views A new study co-written by Madhu Khanna, a professor of agricultural and consumer economics at Illinois, found that harvesting wood pellets in the U.S. and exporting them to the EU was more environmentally friendly than burning coal in the EU to generate electricity. Links between hunger and health lead to recommendation that doctors screen patients for food insecurity Nov 5, 2015 2:00 pm267 views Almost 50 million people in the United States are food insecure – that is, they lack access to adequate food because of limited money or other resources. University of Illinois economist Craig Gundersen and University of Kentucky’s James P. Ziliak examined recent research on food insecurity and its association with poor health, and offer suggestions including that doctors screen for hunger. Study: Ground-level ozone reduces maize and soybean yields Nov 5, 2015 9:00 am1029 views Despite government regulations, ground-level ozone – an odorless gas that forms as polluting nitrogen oxides drift in sunlight across the countryside – continues to threaten crop quality and yield. In a new study, researchers quantify this loss from historical yield data for the first time. They show that over the last 30 years, ozone emissions have reduced soybean and corn yields by 5 percent and 10 percent, respectively. Pineapple genome offers insight into photosynthesis in drought-tolerant plants Nov 2, 2015 10:00 am3819 views By sequencing its genome, scientists are homing in on the genes and genetic pathways that allow the juicy pineapple plant to thrive in water-limited environments. The new findings, reported in the journal Nature Genetics, also open a new window on the complicated evolutionary history of grasses like sorghum and rice, which share a distant ancestor with pineapple. Study identifies chemical in diet that determines a honey bee’s caste Aug 28, 2015 1:00 pm1940 views A closer look at how honey bee colonies determine which larvae will serve as workers and which will become queens reveals that a plant chemical, p-coumaric acid, plays a key role in the bees’ developmental fate. Master Naturalists needed to preserve Illinois' environment Aug 11, 2015 1:00 pm483 views Adults who have a passion for the outdoors – and are interested in sharing that with others – are needed statewide as volunteers in the University of Illinois Extension Master Naturalist program. Chill-tolerant hybrid sugarcane also grows at lower temperatures, team finds Jul 28, 2015 8:00 am4595 views U.S. farmers have long hoped to extend sugarcane’s growing range northward from the Gulf coast, substantially increasing the land available for sugar and biofuels. Several hybrid canes developed in the 1980s have proved hardy in cooler climes, surviving overwinter as far north as Booneville, Arkansas. But until now, no one had tested whether these “miscanes,” as they are called, actually photosynthesize, and thus continue to grow, when the thermometer dips. Study: Groundwater from aquifers important factor in food security Jun 29, 2015 2:00 pm463 views CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Thirsty cities, fields and livestock drink deeply from aquifers, natural sources of groundwater. But a study of three of the most-tapped aquifers in the United States shows that overdrawing from these resources could lead to difficult choices affecting not only domestic food security but also international markets.