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  • Soybean field and sunshine

    Study: Fluorescent light clarifies relationship between heat stress and crop yield

    Scientists report that it is possible to detect and predict heat damage in crops by measuring the fluorescent light signature of plant leaves experiencing heat stress. If collected via satellite, this fluorescent signal could support widespread monitoring of growth and crop yield under the heat stress of climate change, the researchers say.

  • Photo of Yilan Xu, a professor of agricultural and consumer economics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

    Paper: Disposal of wastewater from hydraulic fracturing poses dangers to drivers

    A new paper co-written by Yilan Xu, a professor of agricultural and consumer economics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, shows that the growing traffic burden in shale energy boomtowns resulted in a surge of road fatalities and severe accidents.

  • University of Illinois crop sciences and plant biology professor Stephen P. Long is one of 100 new members elected to the National Academy of Sciences.

    Long elected to National Academy of Sciences

    Stephen P. Long, a professor of crop sciences and plant biology at the University of Illinois, has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences, one of the highest professional honors a scientist can receive.

  • Hybrid grass may prove to be valuable fuel source

    CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Giant Miscanthus (Miscanthus x giganteus), a hybrid grass that can grow 13 feet high, may be a valuable renewable fuel source for the future, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign say.

  • A NASA image containing visible and infrared data revealing the presence of dissolved organic matter – including potential antibiotic-resistant pathogens – in the waterways along coastal North Carolina after Hurricane Florence.

    Genetic sequencing uncovers unexpected source of pathogens in floodwaters

    Researchers report in the journal Geohealth that local rivers and streams were the source of the Salmonella enterica contamination along coastal North Carolina after Hurricane Florence in 2018 – not the previously suspected high number of pig farms in the region. 

  • Photo of the researchers.

    Are Illinois farmers aware of the risk of tick-borne diseases?

    Illinois Ph.D. candidate Sulagna Chakraborty describes awareness of ticks and tick-borne disease among Illinois farmers.

  • Study: Ground-level ozone reduces maize and soybean yields

    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.

  • Research Team

    Corn genetic heritage the strongest driver of chemical defenses against munching bugs

    Plants release chemical distress signals when under attack from chewing insects. These “911 calls" alert other bugs that dinner or a nice place to lay their eggs is available nearby. If predatory or parasitic insects detect the right signal, they swoop in like saviors to make a meal out of – or lay their eggs in – the bodies of the herbivore insects.

    A new study explores the factors that contribute to corn plants’ chemical signaling capacity, comparing how different corn varieties respond to herbivory in the presence or absence of a soil bacterium known to promote plant health.

  • Consumer perception of organic foods affected by food type and where they’re sold

    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?

  • The soybean aphid is tiny, about the size of a pollen grain, but an infestation can cause soybean losses of up to 40 percent, studies reveal.

    Team nebulizes aphids to knock down gene expression

    Researchers are nebulizing soybean aphids with RNA to speed the process of discovering the function of many mystery genes.

  • Drones - unmanned aerial vehicles - scout wheat on the university's South Farms.

    Drones give farmers eyes in the sky to check on crop progress

    CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - This growing season, crop researchers at the University of Illinois are experimenting with the use of drones - unmanned aerial vehicles - on the university's South Farms.

  • Photo of Craig Lemoine, the director of the Financial Planning Program at the College of ACES

    Is our flood insurance model broken?

    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.

  • U. of I. crop sciences professor Patrick Tranel and his colleagues are working to understand the processes that lead to herbicide resistance in plants.

    New mutations for herbicide resistance rarer than expected, study finds

    New evidence suggests that the mutation rate in amaranth – a group that includes several agricultural weeds – is quite low and that low-level exposure to herbicides contributes little, if anything, to the onset of herbicide-resistant mutations in this group.

  • Aaron Hager

    What's the potential impact of herbicide-resistant weeds on agriculture in the U.S.?

    A Minute With™... Aaron Hager, a faculty member in the department of crop sciences

  • Photo of Scott Irwin, the Laurence J. Norton Chair of Agricultural Marketing in the department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

    Will Russian invasion of Ukraine spark a global food crisis?

    The U.S. isn’t on the verge of a food crisis but is experiencing rampant food price inflation, says Scott Irwin, professor of agricultural and consumer economics at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

  • Researchers used neuroimaging to study how iron deficiency influences piglet brain development. The findings may have implications for human infant brain development.

    Neuroimaging reveals lasting brain deficits in iron-deficient piglets

    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.

  • Chemical and biomolecular engineering professor and department chair Paul Kenis, right, and graduate student Shawn Lu are co-authors of a new study that examines the feasibility of a new CO2 waste-to-value technology.

    Study: Reducing energy required to convert CO2 waste into valuable resources

    CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Surplus industrial carbon dioxide creates an opportunity to convert waste into a valuable commodity. Excess CO2 can be a feedstock for chemicals typically derived from fossil fuels, but the process is energy-intensive and expensive. University of Illinois chemical engineers have assessed the technical and economic feasibility of a new electrolysis technology that uses a cheap biofuel byproduct to reduce the energy consumption of the waste-to-value process by 53 percent.

  • Researchers at the U. of I. found that plants vary a lot in the efficiency with which they uptake carbon dioxide and conserve water. Plant biology professor Andrew Leakey, left, mentored Kevin Wolz, who was an undergraduate at the time he conducted the research. Wolz now holds degrees in civil engineering and biology and is pursuing a doctorate in biology.

    Two undergrads improve plant carbon-cycle models

    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.

  • Photo of Yilan Xu, a professor of agricultural and consumer economics at Illinois

    Study: Domestic control of COVID-19 takes priority over international travel bans

    A new paper co-written by University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign economist Yilan Xu says taming domestic transmission of COVID-19 ought to be prioritized over international travel bans.

  • 'Engineering Fire' documentary premieres on BTN

    “Engineering Fire,” 30-minute documentary video chronicling the work of University of Illinois engineers to introduce a solar-cooking device in Haiti, premieres May 12 at 7 p.m. CDT on the Big Ten Network.

  • Jennifer Robbennolt, a UI professor of law and of psychology, says her studies show that apologies can potentially help resolve legal disputes ranging from injury cases to wrongful firings, giving wounded parties a sense of justice and satisfaction that promotes settlements and trims demands for damages.

    Apologies may fuel settlement of legal disputes, study says

    CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Apologies may be good for more than just the soul, according to research by a University of Illinois professor of law and of psychology.

  • Kaiyu Guan standing in an agriculutural field in Illinois

    Researchers propose a unified, scalable framework to measure agricultural greenhouse gas emissions

    Increased government investment in climate change mitigation is prompting agricultural sectors to find reliable methods for measuring their contribution to climate change. With that in mind, a team led by scientists at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign proposed a supercomputing solution to help measure individual farm field-level greenhouse gas emissions. Although locally tested in the Midwest, the new approach can be scaled up to national and global levels and help the industry grasp the best practices for reducing emissions.

  • Plant biology professor Evan DeLucia and his colleagues found that hotter conditions expected by midcentury will lead to a need for crop irrigation in the Midwest, a region that relies primarily on rainfall to grow crops.

    A warming Midwest increases likelihood that farmers will need to irrigate

    If current climate and crop-improvement trends continue into the future, Midwestern corn growers who today rely on rainfall to water their crops will need to irrigate their fields, a new study finds. This could draw down aquifers, disrupt streams and rivers, and set up conflicts between agricultural and other human and ecological needs for water, scientists say.

  • Atul Jain led a study that used a combination of satellite and census data to identify deforestation and expanding saltwater farming as the key physical and socioeconomic drivers of climate change in Bangladesh.

    Study: Integrating satellite and socioeconomic data to improve climate change policy

    Bangladesh is on track to lose all of its forestland in the next 35-40 years, leading to a rise in CO2 emissions and subsequent climate change, researchers said. However, that is just one of the significant land-use changes that the country is experiencing. A new study uses satellite and census data to quantify and unravel how physical and economic factors drive land-use changes. Understanding this relationship can inform climate policy at the national scale in Bangladesh and beyond.

  • Civil and environmental engineering professor Praveen Kumar led research that determined bioenergy crops such as miscanthus can store more carbon in the soil than traditional corn or soybean crops.

    Bioenergy crops could store more carbon in soil

    CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - In addition to providing renewable energy, grass crops like switchgrass and miscanthus could store some of the carbon they pull from the atmosphere in the soil, according to a new study by University of Illinois researchers.

  • Michael Gray, a professor of crop sciences, has found growing non-compliance with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's requirement that farmers who plant genetically modified corn plant 20 percent of their acreage with non-modified corn to prevent genetic resistance.

    Growing numbers of corn farmers ignoring refuge requirement

    CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - More than 90 percent of Illinois corn producers polled at the University of Illinois Extension Corn and Soybean Classic meetings indicated that they planned to plant corn that was genetically modified with the insect-killing protein Bacillus thuringiensis this spring.

  • Portrait of Nicolas Martin standing in front of the Morrow Plots cornfield on the U. of I. campus

    Management zone maps of little use to corn growers, study finds

    A multiyear analysis tested whether management zone maps based on soil conditions, topography or other landscape features can reliably predict which parts of a cornfield will respond best to higher rates of seeding or nitrogen application. The study found that – contrary to common assumptions – crop-plot responses to the same inputs vary significantly from year-to-year. The most unpredictable factor – the weather – seemed to have the biggest impact on how the crops responded to these inputs.

  • Research geneticist Ram Singh crossed soybean with a related wild, perennial plant from Australia, introducing new genetic diversity to the soybean plant.

    Plant breeder boosts soybean diversity, develops soybean rust-resistant plant

    CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — It took decades of painstaking work, but research geneticist Ram Singh managed to cross a popular soybean variety (“Dwight” Glycine max) with a related wild perennial plant that grows like a weed in Australia, producing the first fertile soybean plants that are resistant to soybean rust, soybean cyst nematode and other pathogens of soy.

  • Carl Bernacchi stands in front of a large image of a solar eclipse.

    What can researchers learn about ecosystems and the environment during the total solar eclipse?

    Scientists across the U.S. and Mexico are engaging in a one-day data-gathering operation to record how the 2024 total solar eclipse affects various aspects of life on Earth. At the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, crop sciences and plant biology professor Carl Bernacchi and his colleagues will focus on atmospheric and ecosystem-scale responses to the eclipse. Bernacchi describes what is planned and how it fits into the bigger research effort.

  • photo of five leafhopper species

    Study tracks plant pathogens in leafhoppers from natural areas

    Phytoplasmas are bacteria that can invade the vascular tissues of plants, causing many different crop diseases. While most studies of phytoplasmas begin by examining plants showing disease symptoms, a new analysis focuses on the tiny insects that carry the infectious bacteria from plant to plant. By extracting and testing DNA from archival leafhopper specimens collected in natural areas, the study identified new phytoplasma strains and found new associations between leafhoppers and phytoplasmas known to harm crop plants.

  • Illinois state climatologist Jim Angel, who is retiring in December, discusses his career, climate change and the recently released National Climate Assessment.

    Can we talk about the Illinois climate?

    Jim Angel, the Illinois state climatologist, has announced that he will retire in December 2018 after 34 years at the Illinois State Water Survey. News Bureau physical sciences editor Lois Yoksoulian spoke with him about his career, climate change and the National Climate Assessment released on Black Friday.

  • The navel orangeworm caterpillar works with a fungus to overcome plant chemical defenses, a new study finds.

    Caterpillar, fungus in cahoots to threaten fruit, nut crops, study finds

    New research reveals that Aspergillus flavus, a fungus that produces carcinogenic aflatoxins that can contaminate seeds and nuts, has a multilegged partner in crime: the navel orangeworm caterpillar, which targets some of the same nut and fruit orchards afflicted by the fungus. Scientists report in the Journal of Chemical Ecology that the two pests work in concert to overcome plant defenses and resist pesticides.

  • Photo of Craig Lemoine, the director of the Financial Planning Program at the College of ACES

    Should states be in the lottery business?

    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.

  • Photo of Yong-Su Jin in the laboratory

    Microbial division of labor produces higher biofuel yields

    Scientists have found a way to boost ethanol production via yeast fermentation, a standard method for converting plant sugars into biofuels. Their approach, detailed in the journal Nature Communications, relies on careful timing and a tight division of labor among synthetic yeast strains to yield more ethanol per unit of plant sugars than previous approaches have achieved.

  • Public domain of plants growing in laboratory designed to be used in space.

    Study brings scientists a step closer to successfully growing plants in space

    New, highly stretchable sensors can monitor and transmit plant growth information without human intervention, report University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign researchers in the journal Device. The polymer sensors are resilient to humidity and temperature, can stretch over 400% while remaining attached to a plant as it grows and send a wireless signal to a remote monitoring location, said chemical and biomolecular engineering professor Ying Diao, who led the study with plant biology professor and department head Andrew Leakey.

  • Flooded farm field draining into stream

    Study: 'Legacy' phosphorus delays water quality improvements in Gulf of Mexico

    The same phosphorous that fertilizes the thriving agriculture of the Midwest is also responsible for a vast “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico near the Mississippi Delta. Efforts to reduce the amount of phosphorus that enters the Mississippi River system are underway, but research led by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign suggests that remnants of the contaminant are left behind in riverbeds for years after introduction and pose an overlooked – and lingering – problem.  

  • Salmon baby food? Babies need omega-3s and a taste for fish

    A UI food science professor has two important reasons for including seafood in a young child's diet, reasons that have motivated her work in helping to develop a tasty, nutritious salmon baby food for toddlers.

  • Photo of Stephen Long holding a soybean leaf in the sun.

    In TED Talk, Long describes three photosynthetic changes that boost crop yields

    In a newly released TED Talk, Stephen Long, a University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign professor of plant biology and crop sciences, described his and his colleagues’ efforts to boost photosynthesis in crop plants. He described three interventions, each of which increased crop yields by 20% or more.

  • Fresh produce being sanitized in the device

    Lightning sparks scientists’ design of ultraviolet-C device for food sanitization

    Scientists at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign have developed a self-powered device that uses UV-C light to inactivate bacteria that cause foodborne illnesses. The Tribo-sanitizer could be used in the home, agricultural industries and disaster zones where electricity is limited.

  • Maria Kalaitzandonakes, a professor of agricultural and consumer economics at Illinois.

    Paper: Multistate foodborne illness outbreaks impact restaurant stock price, public perception

    Foodborne illness outbreaks spanning multiple states bring swift financial losses, increased media attention and a public-relations hit that makes subsequent smaller outbreaks more financially damaging, says Maria Kalaitzandonakes, a professor of agricultural and consumer economics at Illinois.

  • Bruce M. Chassy

    Labeling genetically engineered food

    A Minute With™... Bruce M. Chassy, a professor emeritus of food science and human nutrition

  • Master Naturalists, from left, John Marlin, Thom Uebele and Jana Uebele stand in the Florida Orchard Prairie, one of the demonstration gardens on campus that Marlin coordinates and maintains. An entomologist, Marlin is a research affiliate with the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center. Thom Uebele is a research programmer with the School of Life Sciences, and his wife, Jana, is an artist.

    Master Naturalists needed to preserve Illinois' environment

    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.

  • Pest patrol Kelly Estes, state survey coordinator at the Illinois Cooperative Agricultural Pest Survey, and Michael Gray, a professor of crop sciences, are urging Illinois farmers to be especially vigilant about scouting their fields for brown marmorated stink bugs.

    Stink bugs a threat to farmers, smelly guests for homeowners

    CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The brown marmorated stink bug - scientific name Halyomorpha halys - has been found in four Illinois counties and could be a major threat to fruit, vegetable and agronomic crops if it proliferates.

  • Groundwater from three main aquifers in the United States contributes to food shipped across the country and around the globe, says a new study from civil and environmental engineers at Illinois and Lehigh University.

    Study: Groundwater from aquifers important factor in food security

    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.

  • Craig Gundersen

    Solving food insecurity problems among older Americans

    A Minute With™... Craig Gundersen, the University of Illinois Soybean Industry Endowed Professor of Agricultural Strategy

  • University of Illinois eco-physiologist Manfredo Seufferheld and his colleagues found substantial differences in gene expression between rotation-resistant rootworms and those that are susceptible to crop rotation.

    Study: Crop rotation-resistant rootworms have a lot going on in their guts

    CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — After decades of effort, scientists are finally figuring out how insects develop resistance to environmentally friendly farming practices – such as crop rotation – that are designed to kill them. The researchers say their insights will help develop more sustainable agricultural practices.

  • Tami Bond, a professor of civil and environmental engineering, has received a 2014 MacArthur fellowship, commonly called a "genius grant."

    Illinois engineer wins MacArthur fellowship

    CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Tami Bond, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has been awarded a 2014 MacArthur Fellowship, commonly known as a "genius grant," from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

  • Chickens may help aid in early detection of ovarian cancer

    Understanding and treatment of human ovarian cancer, known as the silent killer, may be a step closer thanks to some chickens at the UI. Ovarian cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer deaths in women and unlike other cancers, its rate of mortality has not been reduced.

  • Sheldon H. Jacobson, right, a professor of computer science at Illinois, says legislation banning cell phone use while driving has more of an impact in densely populated urban areas that have a higher number of licensed drivers. Matthew J. Robbins, left, was one of two students who conducted the study with Jacobson.

    Study: Cell-phone bans while driving have more impact in dense, urban areas

    CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - A new study analyzing the impact of hand-held cell phone legislation on driving safety concludes that usage-ban laws had more of an impact in densely populated urban areas with a higher number of licensed drivers than in rural areas where there are fewer licensed drivers, according to a University of Illinois researcher.

  • Craig Gundersen

    Links between hunger and health lead to recommendation that doctors screen patients for food insecurity

    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.