Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘stripe rust’

Multimillion-dollar project using unmanned aerial systems to detect emerging pest insects, diseases in food crops
By Greg Tammen K-State News and Communications Services Mar 19, 2015

 

550bad2ac0cac.imageRich Brown, KSU, Salina, KS,prepares an unmanned aircraft for flight.

MANHATTAN — Kansas State University is leading an international, multimillion-dollar project that is looking at unmanned aerial systems — or UAS — as a quick and efficient method to detect pest insects and diseases in food crops before outbreaks happen.

Brian McCornack, associate professor of entomology, is the U.S. principal investigator on the $1.74 million three-year project, “Optimizing Surveillance Protocols Using Unmanned Aerial Systems.” The project partners Kansas State University’s Manhattan and Salina campuses with Australia’s Queensland University of Technology, the Victorian Department of Environment and Primary Industries, and the Queensland Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.

The project was recently funded by the Plant Biosecurity Cooperative Research Centre — a consortium of several of Australia and New Zealand’s leading governmental research institutions and universities supported by industry and governmental partners. Kansas State University is the center’s only U.S. partner. Australia and Kansas share similar agricultural systems and concerns about emerging diseases and insect pests.

“In both Australia and the U.S., there is a lot of interest in the plant biosecurity field on how to increase the efficiency and detection rates of plant-based threats using emerging technologies,” McCornack said. “Unmanned aerial systems technologies are promising because they’re inexpensive and you can cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time.”

McCornack and researchers at Kansas State University’s Manhattan and Salina campuses are conducting a series of studies that look at how accurately UAS can detect invasive insects and emerging diseases in commercial wheat fields, as well as how to optimize information collected during flights.

The team’s findings may lead to new pest management strategies that use UAS and other imaging technologies for detecting invasive pests in horticulture and grain industries.

The project will initially target the Russian wheat aphid and wheat stripe rust, also commonly referred to as “yellow rust.”

Kansas State University researchers are working with landowners and the Federal Aviation Administration to conduct approved UAS flights in wheat fields around Kansas. Researchers in Australia are conducting complementary flights to collect supporting data.

Researchers will use UAS to repeatedly monitor FAA-sanctioned fields in key Kansas counties over the wheat-growing season. Aerial images captured by the UAS will be compared and used to identify field sections that have abnormalities, possibly caused by key insect pests or diseases.

According to McCornack, using UAS in this manner removes the current needle-in-the-haystack approach to monitoring crop plants.

“Currently, early detection of an invasive pest requires a great amount of luck and sweat,” McCornack said. “Typically, a landowner has to make an educated guess about where to go in a large field to check for infested plants. It works, but if a farmer or scout has several thousand acres to manage, it’s not very time effective. Whereas with remote sensing, you can scan a wide area in a short amount of time.”

In addition to testing for accuracy, researchers will look at how to refine the aerial images captured by the UAS in order to provide landowners with the most usable data. For example, this could include comparing images taken at varying heights and resolutions — from satellite images to pictures taken on the ground with a mobile device.

“It’s important that we’re able to detect the next invasive pest,” McCornack said. “Since 2001, the invasive soybean aphid has changed how we manage much of the 75 million acres of soybean in the North Central U.S. We believe that using UAS and working closely with farmers and scouts to regularly monitor crops and look for those changes early on can reduce the likelihood of repeating what happened with soybean aphid. Using this technology is not a guarantee, but it can help us understand how to quickly manage new pests that do establish.”

http://www.gctelegram.com/news/state/multimillion-dollar-project-using-unmanned-aerial-systems-to-detect-emerging/article_cdcd3e2a-3c31-5182-9901-97fc29f67bc0.html

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Washington State University News
September 15, 2014
By Eric Sorensen, WSU science writer
PULLMAN, Wash. – Washington State University researchers have found “the most famous wheat gene,” a reproductive traffic cop of sorts that can be used to transfer valuable genes from other plants to wheat.
The discovery clears the way for breeders to develop wheat varieties with the disease- and pest-resistance traits of other grasses, using a legion of genetic tools that can reduce crop losses and pesticide use while foregoing the cost, regulatory hurdles and controversy of genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.
“The real exciting part of this gene is that it has tremendous potential for application,” said Kulvinder Gill, a WSU professor, who reports his findings in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
For some 35 million years, the wild ancestors of wheat routinely traded genes as they accidentally cross-bred with each other. But with the rise of agriculture and cultivated wheat 10,000 years ago, the plant’s genetic structure changed. Instead of being diploid, with two sets of chromosomes like humans and most other living things, it became polyploid, with, in the case of bread wheat, seven sets of six related chromosomes.
Starting in 1958, just five years after the discovery of DNA’s double-helix structure, researchers suspected that a specific gene controls the orderly pairing of wheat chromosomes during reproduction.
“If this gene was not present, there would be chaos in the nucleus,” said Gill. “Six chromosomes would pair with each other and sometimes five chromosomes would go to one cell and one to the other, resulting in a sterile plant. Because of this gene, wheat can be fertile. Without this gene, it would be more like sugar cane, where it is a mess in the nucleus and it can only be vegetatively propagated.”
But the gene also prevents wheat from breeding with related ancestors that can contain a vast array of traits preferred by growers.
“This gene would not allow rye chromosomes to pair with wheat,” said Gill. “We cannot get a single gene transfer into wheat as long as this gene is present.”
Interest in the gene, called Ph1, has spawned scores of research papers, making it what Gill called, “the most famous wheat gene.”
In 2006, British researchers writing in the journal Nature said they identified the gene.
“In this paper,” said Gill, “we show that their gene is not the Ph1.”
Knowing their findings would be controversial, Gill and his colleagues spent a year repeating the experiments that led to their conclusion. They are now moving on.
“Now that we have the gene, we can actually use that gene sequence to temporarily silence the gene and make rye and other chromosomes pair with wheat and transfer genes by a natural method into wheat without calling it GMO,” Gill said.
Their first effort involves transferring a gene from jointed goatgrass, a wild relative of wheat, to confer resistance to stripe rust. The fungus is considered the world’s most economically damaging wheat pathogen, costing U.S. farmers alone some $500 million in lost productivity in 2012.
While facilitated by technology, the actual exchange of genetic material is similar to what has long taken place in nature, only faster. Incorporating the gene transfer into the overall breeding process, researchers can develop a new variety in five years, said Gill.
“If we let wheat evolve for another few millions years in the wild, maybe it will develop enough variation, but we don’t have that kind of time,” said Gill. “We need to solve this problem today.”
Funding for the research came from WSU’s Vogel Endowment Fund. Other researchers were Ramanjot Bhullar, a WSU doctoral student and the paper’s lead author; Ragupathi Nagarajan, a WSU doctoral student; Harvinder Bennypaul of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency; Gaganpreet K. Sidhu, a WSU master’s graduate now at Columbia University; WSU doctoral student Gaganjot Sidhu; WSU assistant research professor Sachin Rustgi; and R.A. Nilan Distinguished Professor Diter von Wettstein.

Contact:
Kulvinder Gill, WSU professor, ksgill@wsu.edu, 509-335-4666

 

Read Full Post »