Study: 'Legacy' phosphorus delays water quality improvements in Gulf of Mexico Feb 7, 2024 10:30 am336 views 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. Microbial division of labor produces higher biofuel yields Feb 5, 2024 8:00 am580 views 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. Paper: Multistate foodborne illness outbreaks impact restaurant stock price, public perception Feb 2, 2024 8:00 am408 views 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. Genetic sequencing uncovers unexpected source of pathogens in floodwaters Dec 18, 2023 9:30 am1086 views 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. Lightning sparks scientists’ design of ultraviolet-C device for food sanitization Dec 5, 2023 7:30 am523 views 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. In TED Talk, Long describes three photosynthetic changes that boost crop yields Nov 29, 2023 11:15 am522 views 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. Management zone maps of little use to corn growers, study finds Oct 16, 2023 9:00 am733 views 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. Library’s 15-millionth volume is influential manuscript on agricultural management from Middle Ages Oct 6, 2023 11:00 am1794 views The 15-millionth volume in the collection of the University Library is a copy of Walter of Henley’s 13th-century work “Hosbondrye,” one of the most influential works on agriculture and land management in the Middle Ages. Researchers propose a unified, scalable framework to measure agricultural greenhouse gas emissions Sep 27, 2023 1:00 pm743 views 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. New book chronicles personal, professional journey studying futures markets Apr 11, 2023 8:00 am1892 views 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, is the author of “Back to the Futures,” a book that’s part personal memoir and part explainer of the futures market. Bollero named College of ACES dean Apr 6, 2023 4:00 pm3403 views Germán Bollero will be the next dean of the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, pending approval by the University of Illinois Board of Trustees. Bollero has served as the interim dean of ACES since September 2021. Are Illinois farmers aware of the risk of tick-borne diseases? Apr 5, 2023 9:30 am1064 views Illinois Ph.D. candidate Sulagna Chakraborty describes awareness of ticks and tick-borne disease among Illinois farmers. Study demonstrates energy-efficient conversion of nitrate pollutants into ammonia Feb 16, 2023 2:30 pm1764 views The nitrate runoff problem, a source of carcinogens and a cause of suffocating algal blooms in U.S. waterways, may not be all gloom and doom. A new study led by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign demonstrates an approach for the integrated capture and conversion of nitrate-contaminated waters into valuable ammonia within a single electrochemical cell. A soybean protein blocks LDL cholesterol production, reducing risks of metabolic diseases Jan 23, 2023 8:00 am30496 views Soybean varieties with greater proportions of the protein B-conglycinin reduce plasma cholesterol levels and promote liver homeostasis, showing potential for preventing fatty liver disease and atherosclerosis, according to research by food scientists at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Bill & Melinda Gates Agricultural Innovations extends RIPE funding with $34M grant Dec 13, 2022 8:30 am2503 views Bill & Melinda Gates Agricultural Innovations has awarded a grant of $34 million to the Realizing Increased Photosynthetic Efficiency project, an international research effort led by scientists at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. In its 10-year history, RIPE has demonstrated large increases in crop productivity in replicated field trials on the university farm. What is driving the high suicide rate among farmers? Dec 12, 2022 8:00 am8641 views Mental health outreach programs for farmers also need to provide services for their teens, who have similar rates of anxiety and depression, said agricultural and biological engineering professor Josie Rudolphi. Nine Illinois scientists rank among world's most influential Nov 15, 2022 8:00 am7364 views Nine U. of I. researchers have been named to the 2022 Clarivate Analytics Highly Cited Researchers list. The list recognizes research scientists and social scientists who have demonstrated exceptional influence – reflected through their publication of multiple papers frequently cited by their peers during the last decade. This year’s list includes 6,938 individuals from around the world whose papers rank in the top 1% by citations for field and year in the Web of Science. What is place-based adaptation to climate change? Oct 10, 2022 1:30 pm2311 views A recent Washington Post-ABC News poll states that roughly half of registered voters say climate change is either “very important” or “one of the most important issues” in their vote for Congress this year. However, many citizens struggle to understand their place in this global issue. Applied Research Institute senior research scientist Ann-Perry Witmer, also a lecturer in agricultural and biological engineering, spoke with News Bureau physical sciences editor Lois Yoksoulian about a more digestible approach to the climate crisis and encouraged readers to participate in a public panel discussion this week. Study looks at food-buying behavior during different stages of the COVID-19 pandemic Aug 9, 2022 8:15 am1657 views Grocery shopping in person remained extremely common throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, while restaurant dining was more vulnerable to surges in case rates, according to a new study examining how Americans acquired food at various points during the pandemic. Study tracks plant pathogens in leafhoppers from natural areas Aug 2, 2022 8:00 am680 views 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. Will renaming carp help control them? Jun 27, 2022 8:30 am1261 views Illinois officials this month announced that Asian carp would now be called “copi” in an attempt to make the fish more desirable for eating. Joe Parkos, the director of the Illinois Natural History Survey’s Kaskaskia, Ridge Lake and Sam Parr biological stations in Illinois, spoke with News Bureau life sciences editor Diana Yates about scientific initiatives to study and control carp/copi fish populations and the potential for rebranding to aid those efforts. Corn genetic heritage the strongest driver of chemical defenses against munching bugs May 3, 2022 10:30 am1075 views 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. Will Russian invasion of Ukraine spark a global food crisis? May 3, 2022 8:00 am1001 views 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. How do we solve the problem of agricultural nutrient runoff? Mar 10, 2022 8:00 am2626 views Agricultural runoff from Midwestern farms is a major contributor to a vast “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico. Nitrogen, phosphorous and other farm nutrients drain into the Mississippi River, which empties into the Gulf, spurring algae to overpopulate and suffocating other aquatic life. Illinois is a main culprit in this ongoing environmental blight. News Bureau life sciences editor Diana Yates spoke with U. of I. natural resources and environmental sciences researcher Lowell Gentry about possible solutions. Overweight dogs respond well to high-protein, high-fiber diet Jan 24, 2022 9:00 am1586 views A study of overweight dogs fed a reduced calorie, high-protein, high-fiber diet for 24 weeks found that the dogs’ body composition and inflammatory markers changed over time in ways that parallel the positive changes seen in humans on similar diets. The dogs achieved a healthier weight without losing too much muscle mass, and their serum triglycerides, insulin and inflammatory markers all decreased with weight loss. Climate adaptation increases vulnerability of cocoa farmers, study shows Jan 13, 2022 1:00 pm2690 views Sean Kennedy, a professor of urban and regional planning, found that strategies to keep cocoa farmers in place transferred climate-related risks from chocolate manufacturers to the farmers. Six Illinois scientists rank among world's most influential Nov 16, 2021 7:45 am15840 views Six faculty members at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign have been named to the 2021 Clarivate Analytics Highly Cited Researchers list. Study provides basis to evaluate food subsectors' emissions of three greenhouse gases Sep 13, 2021 10:00 am2289 views A new, location-specific agricultural greenhouse gas emission study is the first to account for net carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide emissions from all subsectors related to food production and consumption. The work, led by University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign atmospheric sciences professor Atul Jain, could help identify the primary plant- and animal-based food sectors contributing to three major greenhouse gas emissions and allow policymakers to take action to reduce emissions from the top-emitting food commodities at different locations across the globe. Is the future of agriculture digital? Sep 10, 2021 8:00 am1216 views With colleagues at several institutions, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign crop sciences professor Stephen Moose will lead the development of a National Science Foundation Science and Technology Center for Research on Programmable Plant Systems. With $25 million in newly announced funding, the center will create an Internet of Living Things to learn the intimate biological language of plants and their associated organisms. Moose spoke with News Bureau life sciences editor Diana Yates about this new initiative. Less salt, more protein: Researchers address dairy processing's environmental, sustainability issues Sep 1, 2021 12:00 pm1432 views Researchers say the high salt content of whey – the watery part of milk left behind after cheesemaking – helps make it one of the most polluting byproducts in the food processing industry. In a new study, chemists demonstrate the first electrochemical redox desalination process used in the food industry, removing and recycling up to 99% of excess salt from whey while simultaneously refining more than 98% of whey’s valuable protein content. New imaging, machine-learning methods speed effort to reduce crops' need for water Aug 24, 2021 8:00 am1608 views Scientists have developed and deployed a series of new imaging and machine-learning tools to discover attributes that contribute to water-use efficiency in crop plants during photosynthesis and to reveal the genetic basis of variation in those traits. Nutrient-rich human waste poised to sustain agriculture, improve economies Aug 19, 2021 12:00 pm1258 views The future connection between human waste, sanitation technology and sustainable agriculture is becoming more evident. According to research directed by University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign civil and environmental engineering professor Jeremy Guest, countries could be moving closer to using human waste as fertilizer, closing the loop to more circular, sustainable economies. Study: Domestic control of COVID-19 takes priority over international travel bans Aug 11, 2021 8:00 am901 views 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. Beneficial arthropods find winter sanctuary in uncultivated field edges, study finds Jun 3, 2021 8:00 am1248 views Many species of ground-dwelling beetles, ladybugs, hoverflies, damsel bugs, spiders and parasitic wasps kill and eat pest species that routinely plague farmers, including aphids and corn rootworm larvae and adults. But the beneficial arthropods that live in or near cropped lands also are susceptible to insecticides and other farming practices that erase biodiversity on the landscape. A new study reveals that beneficial arthropods are nearly twice as abundant and diverse in uncultivated field edges in the spring as they are in areas that are cropped – if those field edges are rich in an array of flowers and other broad-leaved plants and not just mowed grass. Study: Fluorescent light clarifies relationship between heat stress and crop yield May 24, 2021 9:15 am1181 views 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. Not just CO2: Rising temperatures also alter photosynthesis in a changing climate Mar 16, 2021 8:00 am4347 views A new review explores how increasing temperatures influence plant growth and viability despite the higher concentrations of atmospheric CO2. Brain gene expression patterns predict behavior of individual honey bees Dec 22, 2020 7:00 am1965 views An unusual study that involved bar coding and tracking the behavior of thousands of individual honey bees in six queenless bee hives and analyzing gene expression in their brains offers new insights into how gene regulation contributes to social behavior. How has COVID-19 affected food insecurity in the US? Dec 14, 2020 8:00 am1564 views The economic devastation wrought by COVID-19 accounts for an almost 43% increase in food insecurity in the U.S., said Craig Gundersen, the ACES Distinguished Professor in the department of agricultural and consumer economics at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Three Illinois scientists rank among world's most influential Nov 18, 2020 8:45 am3368 views Three faculty members at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have been named to the 2020 Clarivate Analytics Highly Cited Researchers list. The list recognizes leading researchers in the sciences and social sciences from around the world. It is based on an analysis of journal article publication and citation data, an objective measure of a researcher’s influence, from 2009-2019. The highly cited Illinois researchers this year are: materials science and engineering professor Axel Hoffmann, crop sciences and plant biology professor Stephen Long, and plant biology professor Donald Ort. Genomic study reveals evolutionary secrets of banyan tree Oct 8, 2020 9:15 am6186 views The banyan fig tree Ficus microcarpa is famous for its aerial roots, which sprout from branches and eventually reach the soil. The tree also has a unique relationship with a wasp that has coevolved with it and is the only insect that can pollinate it. In a new study, researchers identify regions in the banyan fig’s genome that promote the development of its unusual aerial roots and enhance its ability to signal its wasp pollinator. U of I to lead two of seven new national artificial intelligence institutes Aug 26, 2020 8:00 am9319 views The National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture are announcing an investment of more than $140 million to establish seven artificial intelligence institutes in the U.S. Two of the seven will be led by teams at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. The USDA-NIFA will fund the AI Institute for Future Agricultural Resilience, Management and Sustainability at the U. of I. Illinois computer science professor Vikram Adve will lead the AIFARMS Institute. The NSF will fund the AI Institute for Molecular Discovery, Synthetic Strategy and Manufacturing, also known as the Molecule Maker Lab Institute. Huimin Zhao, a U. of I. professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering and of chemistry, will lead this institute. Group genomics drive aggression in honey bees Jul 6, 2020 3:45 pm1658 views Hive genomics – not individual genetic traits – drive aggression in a unique population of gentle Africanized honey bees, a new study reveals. “This is a signal that there may be more to the genetics of behavior as a whole than we’ve been thinking about,” said U. of I. bioinformatics professor Matthew Hudson, a co-author of the study. Human activity on rivers outpaces, compounds effects of climate change Jun 19, 2020 10:00 am2676 views The livelihoods of millions of people living along the world’s biggest river systems are under threat by a range of stressors caused by the daily economic, societal and political activity of humans – in addition to the long-term effects of climate change, researchers report. Study: Integrating satellite and socioeconomic data to improve climate change policy May 28, 2020 12:15 pm796 views 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. How do we combat global food insecurity during pandemics? May 22, 2020 8:15 am1424 views The World Food Programme recently warned that the COVID-19 pandemic could double the number of people facing extreme food shortages, bringing the number of those in crisis to about 265 million worldwide. Esther Ngumbi, a professor of entomology and of African American studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign who writes and speaks about global food security, spoke with News Bureau life sciences editor Diana Yates about the practices that can help reduce the problem of global food insecurity. Study: Multiscale crop modeling effort required to assess climate change adaptation May 14, 2020 12:00 pm1734 views Crop modeling is essential for understanding how to secure the food supply as the planet adapts to climate change. Many current crop models focus on simulating crop growth and yield at the field scale, but lack genetic and physiological data, which may hamper accurate production and environmental impact assessment at larger scales. Cahokia's rise parallels onset of corn agriculture May 14, 2020 8:15 am6503 views Corn cultivation spread from Mesoamerica to what is now the American Southwest by about 4000 B.C., but how and when the crop made it to other parts of North America is still a subject of debate. In a new study, scientists report that corn was not grown in the ancient metropolis of Cahokia until sometime between A.D. 900 and 1000, a relatively late date that corresponds to the start of the city’s rapid expansion. Virus-infected honey bees more likely to gain entrance to healthy hives Apr 27, 2020 2:00 pm3617 views Honey bees that guard hive entrances are twice as likely to allow in trespassers from other hives if the intruders are infected with the Israeli acute paralysis virus, a deadly pathogen of bees, researchers report. Their new study, reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, strongly suggests that IAPV infection alters honey bees’ behavior and physiology in ways that boost the virus’s ability to spread, the researchers say. Fungus application thwarts major soybean pest, study finds Apr 9, 2020 8:15 am2249 views The soybean cyst nematode sucks the nutrients out of soybean roots, causing more than $1 billion in soybean yield losses in the U.S. each year. A new study finds that one type of fungi can cut the nematodes’ reproductive success by more than half. Paper: Disposal of wastewater from hydraulic fracturing poses dangers to drivers Mar 2, 2020 8:30 am1153 views 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.