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The effects of perinatal choline status on metabolism and neurodevelopment in the piglet

4:00 PM - 5:00 PM
180 Bevier Hall

Will soybean consumption reach the USDA projection?

Published April 20, 2015

URBANA, Ill. – With plentiful supplies of soybeans available, the magnitude of 2014-15 marketing-year ending stocks of U.S soybeans has limited implications for old-crop prices.  According to a University of Illinois agricultural economist, those stocks will reveal the strength of demand for U.S. soybeans, will be part of next year’s supply, and could have some influence on prices during the 2015-16 marketing year.

The USDA’s April 9, 2015, World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report projected year-ending soybean stocks of 370 million bushels, reflecting expectations that the domestic crush this year will reach a record 1.795 billion bushels and exports will reach a record 1.79 billion bushels. “The projection of year-ending stocks is 105 million bushels smaller than the September 2014 forecast, even though the crop turned out to be 56 million bushels larger than forecasted in September and imports are projected to be 15 million bushels larger than projected in September,” said Darrel Good. “The smaller projection of year-ending stocks compared to the September projection reflects expectations that the crush will be 25 million bushels larger, exports 90 million bushels larger, and seed and residual use 22 million bushels larger than projected in September. In addition, the inventory of old-crop soybeans at the start of the current marketing year was 38 million bushels smaller than projected in September.”

The USDA projection of the domestic soybean crush during the current marketing year that started on Sept. 1, 2014, is 3.5 percent larger than last year’s crush. Good said the pace of the domestic crush in September 2014 was very slow as the result of limited supplies of old-crop soybeans and the slow start to the 2015 harvest.

“The pace has accelerated since then, and crush estimates from the National Oilseed Processors Association (NOPA) indicate that the cumulative crush during the first seven months of the marketing year (September 2014-March 2015) was 1.3 percent larger than the cumulative crush of a year earlier,” Good said. “The crush during March 2015, however, was 5.8 percent larger than in March 2014. To reach the USDA projection, crush during the final five months of the current marketing year will have to be 7.3 percent larger during the same period last year. The prospects of such a large increase in the domestic crush are enhanced by the fact that the crush during those five months last year was relatively small. It also appears that exports of soybean oil and meal could exceed the current USDA projections. USDA projects a 1.2 percent year-over-year increase in soybean oil exports and a 10.8 percent increase in soybean meal exports. Cumulative soybean oil shipments plus outstanding sales as of April 9 exceeded those of a year ago by 12.7 percent. Soybean meal exports plus outstanding sales were up 13.4 percent.

“The domestic soybean crush may also get some support from accelerating biodiesel production,” Good added. “The USDA currently projects a 6 percent year-over-year decline in the amount of soybean oil used for biodiesel production during the marketing year that began on Oct. 1, 2015. Data from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) indicate that biodiesel production was down 10 percent during the first quarter of the marketing year, but up by 32 percent during the second quarter. Production during the first half of the marketing year was 2 percent larger than during the same period last year. Soybean oil consumption likely has benefitted from the increase. In addition to the monthly pace of biodiesel production, the EPA announcement about the 2014 and 2015 biofuels mandates expected in June will provide further guidance on likely biodiesel production for this year. The NOPA estimate of the April crush is scheduled for release on May 15. On August 3, the USDA will release its first Oilseed Crushings report that will replace the Census Bureau report that was discontinued in July 2011. This report should provide more complete data on the size of the monthly soybean crush than are available from NOPA,” he said.

Good reported that the USDA projection of current marketing-year exports of 1.79 billion bushels exceeds last year’s exports by 143 million bushels. The USDA weekly reports indicate that cumulative marketing-year export inspections reached 1.67 billion bushels as of April 16, 161 million more than the total of a year earlier.

“With 19.57 weeks left in the marketing year, inspections now need to average 6.1 million bushels per week to reach the USDA projection,” Good said. “As of April 9, 130 million bushels of U.S. soybeans had been sold for export during the current marketing year, but not yet shipped. Total export commitments then have already reached the USDA’s projection of total marketing-year exports. However, some current outstanding sales may be canceled, and it is typical for some sales to get carried into the next marketing year. Additional net sales of about 60 million bushels are probably needed for exports to actually reach 1.79 billion bushels.”

At this juncture in the marketing year, Good says it appears that the total of the domestic soybean crush and exports during the 2014-15 marketing year will be close to the current USDA projection. However, even as prospects for total consumption become clearer over the next five months, uncertainty about the magnitude of year-ending stocks will remain until the USDA releases the estimate of Sept.1 stocks on Sept. 30. 

“As I mentioned, Sept. 1, 2014 stocks were 38 million bushels smaller than expected just three weeks before the release of the stocks report,” Good said. “The level of uncertainty this year is magnified by the March 1, 2015, stocks estimate that hinted that the 2014 crop may have been overestimated.”


News Source:

Darrel Good, 217-333-4716

Spring nitrogen management: Form and timing

Published April 20, 2015

URBANA, Ill. - Most corn producers have planned their spring nitrogen program for 2015, and many have already started to implement their program. Such plans might include fall ammonia application, early spring application of ammonia or another form of nitrogen, or plans to apply all of the nitrogen at or after planting, said a University of Illinois crop scientist.

“In recent years, there has been a trend toward more applications per crop, and it’s not unusual today to have nitrogen applied three or four times on the same field,” said Emerson Nafziger.

In 2014 Nafziger and his team began a study, funded by the Illinois fertilizer checkoff program and administered by the Nutrient Research and Education Council (NREC) board, with the goal of comparing yields from different nitrogen programs. These included a comparison of 15 ways to apply the same rate of nitrogen (150 lb per acre) in the spring at three U of I research centers.

June rainfall at the three sites where trials ran in 2014 ranged from 8 to 10 inches, or more than twice the normal amounts. “This might have meant above-normal nitrogen loss potential, though we did not have water standing on these plots,” Nafziger said. “Even so, most of the nitrogen forms and application times we compared produced similar yields when averaged across sites.”

Across the three sites, the highest-yielding treatment (urea plus Agrotain broadcast at planting) yielded statistically more than the five other treatments, but the second-best treatment (all of the nitrogen as UAN sidedressed at V5) yielded more than only the two lowest-yielding treatments.

“Having so few distinct differences was due to the fact that treatments changed rank so much from one site to another,” Nafziger said. “That lowered the predictive ability of the experiment because we have no way to predict how a treatment that did well at one site but not another will perform at either site (or across sites) in 2015 or 2016, or in a field this year or in future years.”

The 2014 results do raise the possibility that few if any of these nitrogen form and timing treatments may, in the end, stand out as being consistently better or worse than another. Nafziger said that this isn’t alarming, but it does provide a hint that the list of “acceptable” ways to apply nitrogen might turn out to be a little longer than was first thought.

“While we need to be cautious about any predictions, this also hints that some of the treatments that we reason should produce higher nitrogen use efficiency—such as sidedress or split nitrogen applications—might not always do so consistently,” he said. “What we saw it do well in 2014 can’t be considered the ‘best new’ way to apply nitrogen.

Nafziger added that it’s dangerous to speculate about why a treatment might have done well at one site but not another based on weather differences between the two sites. “In part that’s because the weather among sites was reasonably consistent – and excellent - in 2014. It’s likely that the weather in 2015 will be different than in 2014, and that may well change how the different treatments perform,” he said.

Nafziger said most growers can take comfort in the fact that just about any method they choose for putting nitrogen on the corn crop is likely to work reasonably well, though no method is entirely safe from unusual weather or crop conditions. “We only need to look back to 2012 to find a year when no method of applying nitrogen worked very well. When lack of water becomes the main limitation for a crop, things like nitrogen management may make little difference,” he said.

“A sound nitrogen management program should take costs into account, though, and not just the costs of trips across the fields and of the fertilizer material, but also the indirect costs that include such things as the chance for yield loss or of more expensive forms or application methods we might need to use if we can’t get nitrogen on when we expected to,” Nafziger said.

“Most changes we are inclined to make in how we manage nitrogen today involve increasing the complexity, and this often comes at a cost in time, expense, or uncertainty. Such costs have to be covered by consistent improvement in yields,” he said.

Cookbook fundraiser to support U of I 4-H House

Published April 17, 2015
portion of cover of cookbook

URBANA, Ill. – Over 1,000 University of Illinois students have lived in the 4-H House at 805 W. Ohio in Urbana since it was built in 1960.  That number of residents over 55 years would take a toll on any home. Consequently, a new cookbook has been published to help raise awareness and funds for the much-needed remodeling and renovation.

Nurture the Future @ 805 is a hard cover, spiral-bound cookbook with 480 pages of favorite 4-H House recipes from over the years. In addition to unique recipes from appetizers to dessert, children’s recipes, and some for the microwave, it includes dishes that have already been multiplied for large dinner parties.

“Currently 4-H House is home to 51 girls who have leadership experience in 4-H, Future Farmers of America, or similar organizations,” said U of I freshman Krista Temple, who is the ninth member of her family to live in the 4-H House. “These women do all of their own cooking, cleaning, and maintenance at the house. This cooperative living style allows us to live on campus at a reasonable price and to form long-lasting friendships.”

Temple said that the money raised from the sale of the Nurture the Future @ 805 cookbooks will help update the house with air conditioning, electrical updating, new bathrooms, and much more.

Many of the recipes in the book have been used by the girls who have lived in 4-H House for decades, some with cooking experience and some without. Freshman Emily Bloemer said, “I love our home-cooked meals at 4-H House. It’s great to come home from class to some good food.”

Nurture the Future @ 805 can be purchased for $30 per book, which includes shipping costs. For details on how to order, visit or send an email to Judy Taylor ( or Linda Muehling at




News Source:

Krista Temple

A South African perspective on doctor/child/teacher relationships

4:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Monsanto Room, ACES Library, 1101 S. Goodwin, Urbana

Presented by Dr. Jawaya Shea, Director of the Child Health Unit in the Department of Pediatrics and Child Health at the University of Cape Town, South Africa.

Shea specializes in neonatal intensive care, public health and health administration. She worked within the Peninsula Maternal and Neonatal Services in Cape Town as a clinician and educator before joining the Western Cape Community Partnership Project team at the University of the Western Cape and Cape Peninsula University of Technology in 1995 to advance community-based education, problem-based learning and collaborative curriculum development with academics, health service providers and communities. In 1997 she joined the Child Health Unit at the University of Cape Town to transform a block-release Masters program into a technology-based, mixed-mode program incorporating problem-based learning and community-based education.

She has considerable expertise in obstetric and neonatal health care, public health, primary health care, health systems management, health promotion, human resources for health (the public health workforce), policy development, child rights and advocacy, adolescent health, reproductive health, the integrated management of childhood illness, challenges and controversies that effect HIV/AIDS education, prevention, and control, communicable disease prevention and management, health information systems, essential support services, project management, good clinical practice, partnerships with human subjects in clinical research, and health systems research.

Her research and publication interests include maternal health, neonatal health, reproductive health, health promotion research, adolescent participation in clinical research, health workforce research, health behavior and lifestyle choices that impact on health, HIV & AIDS research, PMTCT program evaluation, educational research and policy analysis.

She also has expertise in curriculum development, adult learning practices, problem-based learning, community-based education, elearning, and integrated assessment practices in health professions education and training.

Her current focus is on the learning challenges in adult learners with interrupted learning trajectories and children living with HIV.

Jawaya was the UCT coordinationor for the Erasmus Mundus Master's in International Health Program and was a scholar to charite University in Berlin, Queen Margaret university in Scotland, and KIT in The Netherlands.


Earth Week 2015 Speaker Jacquelyn Ottman April 22nd

4:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Room 149 NSRC, 1101 West Peabody Drive, Urbana, IL


Green marketing guru Jacquelyn Ottman will inspire the University of Illinois
community to adopt a no-waste mindset and share some of her own story of
incorporating environmental values into her career and help her audience
find ways to do the same.

Immediately after the keynote will be an awards ceremony for the Certified
Green Office Program, Greeks Go Green, and Campus Conservation
Nationals (Eco-Olympics). Reception to follow.

This event is co-sponsored by:

Act Green
Student Organization Resource Fee
Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment
Students for Environmental Concerns

Don’t forget about marestail

Published April 15, 2015

URBANA, Ill. - The harsh realities of poor marestail control with burndown herbicides applied before soybean planting were widespread during the 2013 growing season, according to a University of Illinois Extension weed scientist.

“We anticipated even more challenges with this species for the 2014 growing season, but by and large the forecasted marestail ‘train wreck’ did not materialize in much of the state,” said Aaron Hager.  

Fall herbicide applications coupled with a harsh winter that caused a high degree of mortality to winter annual weed species most likely contributed to a reduced population of marestail last spring.  However, Hager cautioned that it is unwise to assume that a lower marestail population last year will translate into a low marestail population this year.

“It’s not too early to apply herbicides to control emerged marestail in fields that will be planted to soybean,” Hager said. “The small marestail plants we have currently will be much easier to control than the larger plants that will be encountered in several weeks.

“Consider an early herbicide application targeted for marestail control and application of soil-residual herbicides for summer annual weeds closer to soybean planting,” he added.

Hager also recommends recently published suggestions from Mark Loux, an Extension weed scientist at The Ohio State University to improve marestail control with burndown herbicides. These suggestions can be found at

Award winners recognized at College of ACES banquet

Published April 14, 2015

URBANA -- The University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) honored outstanding faculty and staff at the annual Paul A. Funk Recognition Awards Banquet held Monday, April 13, at Pear Tree Estate in rural Champaign, Ill.

The Paul A. Funk Recognition Award is the College of ACES' highest honor. It is presented annually to faculty for outstanding achievement and major contributions to the betterment of agriculture, natural resources, and human systems, said ACES Dean Robert Hauser, host of the evening's award ceremony.

The awards program was established in 1970 by the Paul A. Funk Foundation of Bloomington, Ill., as a memorial to the late Paul A. Funk, who attended the college as a member of the class of 1929 and devoted his life to agriculture.

The three recipients of the Funk Awards—Elvira de Mejia of Food Science and Human Nutrition, Brian Diers of Crop Sciences, and Alan Hansen of Agricultural and Biological Engineering—headlined this year's ceremony.

The Spitze Land-Grant Professorial Career Excellence Award went to Scott Irwin of Agricultural and Consumer Economics. Karen Chapman-Novakofski of Food Science and Human Nutrition received the Faculty Award for Global Impact.

The five recipients of the ACES Alumni Association Award of Merit were: Dan Hoge, ’66, B.S., Animal Sciences, ’68, M.S., Animal Sciences, Cambridge, Ill.; Susan Johnson, ’93, Ph.D., Nutritional Sciences, Louisville, Colo.; Daniel Kittle, ’78, M.S., Plant Pathology, ’80, Ph.D., Plant Pathology, Carmel, Ind.; Gregory Oltman, ’72, B.S., Ornamental Horticulture, Barrington, Ill.; and Kenna Rathai, ’93, B.S., Ag Communications, Saint Anne, Ill.

The Senior Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching went to Soo-Yeun Lee of Food Science and Human Nutrition, while the College Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching went to Nicholas Paulson of Agricultural and Consumer Economics.

Sandra Rodriguez-Zas, Animal Sciences, and Ryan Dilger, Animal Sciences, received the Senior Faculty Award and College Faculty Award, respectively, for Excellence in Research.

The Senior Faculty Award for Excellence in Extension went to Mohammad Babadoost of Crop Sciences, while the College Faculty Award for Excellence in Extension went to Nicholas Paulson of Agricultural and Consumer Economics.

The Teaching Associate Teaching Award was given to Margaret Norton of Crop Sciences.

The John Clyde and Henrietta Downey Spitler Teaching Award went to Barbara Fiese, Human and Community Development.

The Team Award for Excellence went to the members of the STRONG* Kids/I-TOPP** team: Kelly Bost, Human and Community Development; David Buchner, Kinesiology and Community Health; Sharon Donovan, Food Science and Human Nutrition; Barbara Fiese, Human and Community Development; Diana Grigsby-Toussaint, Kinesiology and Community Health; Craig Gunderson, Agricultural and Consumer Economics; Jessica Hartke, Nutritional Sciences; Charles Hillman, Kinesiology and Community Health; Rodney Johnson, Animal Sciences; Brenda Koester; Human and Community Development; Soo-Yeun Lee, Food Science and Human Nutrition; Janet Liechty, School of Social Work; Brent McBride, Human and Community Development; Salma Musaad, Human and Community Development; Margarita Teran-Garcia, Food Science and Human Nutrition; Jennifer Themanson, Human and Community Development; Donna Whitehill, Nutritional Sciences; and Angela Wiley, Human and Community Development. (*Synergistic Theory and Research on Obesity and Nutrition Group, **Illinois Transdisciplinary Obesity Prevention Program)

The Professional Staff Awards for Excellence were given to Elizabeth Reutter, Food Science and Human Nutrition, for Sustained Excellence in Advising, Teaching, and Outreach; Lowell Gentry, Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, for Sustained Excellence in Research; and Linda Tortorelli, Human and Community Development, for Innovation and Creativity.

Luis Mejia, Food Science and Human Nutrition, received the Service Recognition Award.

Dianne Carson of Crop Sciences and Donna Stites of Agricultural and Consumer Economics received the Staff Award for Excellence. Maria Rund, Human and Community Development, was awarded the Marcella M. Nance Staff Award.

The Graduate Student Research Awards went to Kale Monk, Human and Community Development, and Laura Chatham, Crop Sciences, for Ph.D. work and M.S. work, respectively.

Louis V. Logeman Graduate Student Teaching Awards were given to Adam Ahlers, Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, and Kimberly Crossman, Human and Community Development.

For more information and videos, go to


Could the corn carryout really reach 2 billion bushels?

Published April 13, 2015

URBANA, Ill. – The last time the United States ended a marketing year with more than 2 billion bushels of corn was 2004-05. At that point in time the “old era” marketing-year average corn price was $2.06 per bushel. According to University of Illinois agricultural economist John Newton, while “new era” corn prices have experienced record highs, those high prices have been reduced on the back of record corn production in 2014.  Now, followed by weaker-than-anticipated first-half implied feed and residual use of corn, some expect the 2014-15 marketing-year ending stocks of corn to be within reach of 2 billion bushels. Recent trade guesses for 2014-15 marketing year, corn-ending stocks averaged 1,854 million bushels, and ranged from 1,750 to 1,999 million bushels.

“On the bright side, with respect to both old- and new-crop grain prices, the consumption levels needed to reach a 2-billion-bushel carryout result in a stocks-to-use ratio of only 14.8 percent,” Newton said. “Based on a recent price and stocks-to-use analysis, the implied corn price associated with a 2-billion-bushel carryout may be consistent with the current marketing-year projection of $3.70 per bushel.

“The cause for concern is the price implications associated with a potentially big crop in 2015 given anticipations for a large carryout in 2014-15,” Newton added. “March intentions revealed expectations for 89.2 million acres of corn planted in 2015. If stocks come in above current projections, a larger-than-projected corn yield with marginally lower corn consumption would combine to push corn prices in 2015-16 to prices below those currently experienced.”

Newton provided this review of the ongoing pace of corn consumption by category as it pertains to potential beginning stocks for 2015-16.

Based on the March 1 Grain Stocks report implied feed and residual use for the first half of the marketing year was 3,648 million bushels. This total represents 69 percent of the USDA’s marketing-year projection of 5,250 million bushels. (April 13 USDA Feed Outlook will provide revised estimates of feed and residual use.) In previous years the percent of first-half feed and residual use has varied from 64 percent during 1996-97 to 2005-06 to as high as 74 percent during the most recent 2010-11 to 2013-14 marketing years. Applying these historical percentages to the implied first-half feed and residual use suggests a wide range for the 2014-15 marketing year between 4,900 and 5,700 million bushels.

“It is no coincidence that following the March 1 stocks report the average trade guess for corn-ending stocks fell within a 250 million bushel range,” Newton said.

A similar situation emerged last year following the March 1 stocks report. At the time, the World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates Report (WASDE) projection for 2013-14 feed and residual use was 5,300 million bushels and first-half feed use was 3,765 million bushels, approximately 71 percent of the WASDE projection. Ultimately, feed and residual use declined to 5,036 million bushels, with first-half use representing 75 percent of the marketing-year total.

“It is possible that a similar situation is emerging and feed and residual use could be revised downward as the marketing year continues,” Newton said. “However, at this point there is no evidence to suggest an overly bearish or bullish perspective on feed and residual use. Recent expansion in livestock supports higher feed use than last year, and the USDA projection of 5,250 represents a midpoint of possible outcomes.”

With respect to exports, Newton said the April 9 USDA WASDE projections have 2014-15 corn exports at 1,800 million bushels. USDA’s April 6 Federal Grain Inspection Service (FGIS) report indicated that as of the week of April 2, cumulative corn exports for the 2014-15 marketing year totaled 917 million bushels. USDA Foreign Agricultural Service's Global Agricultural Trade System census data through February 2015 indicate that corn exports totaled 810 million bushels and were 65 million bushels higher than the FGIS inspection numbers through February. Newton said that, assuming this pace continues, corn exports through February may be as high as 982 million bushels, representing approximately 55 percent of the projected WASDE total.

In addition to corn already exported, the April 9 USDA Foreign Agricultural Service's Export Sales Report (FAS) revealed 566 million bushels of outstanding corn export sales. Combining the outstanding sales with the implied export volume, sales remain 252 million bushels short of the WASDE projection.

“With nearly 60 percent of the marketing year in the books, corn exports need to accelerate in order to reach the 1,800 million bushel WASDE projection,” Newton said.  “The current slow pace suggests that corn exports could fall marginally short of the WASDE goal.

“Combining first-quarter Feed Outlook estimates of corn use for ethanol with the USDA April 1 Grain Crushings and Co-Products Production report suggests first-half corn use for ethanol at 2,582 million bushels,” Newton said. “This total represents approximately 50 percent of the WASDE projection for the 2014-15 marketing year. Additionally, Energy Information Administration (EIA) ethanol plant production data show marketing-year total ethanol production of 8.6 billion gallons through the week ending April 3, 2015. This total is 5 percent above prior-year ethanol production levels. While some may point to a slowdown in corn use for ethanol in recent months based on Grain Crushings and Co-Products Production data, this slowdown could be attributable to seasonal ethanol-yield variations.”

Newton concluded that, collectively, the pace of corn consumption for ethanol, exports, and feed and residual use is supportive of current WASDE projections. “A 2-billion-bushel carryout seems like a distant, and unlikely, outcome given current consumption indicators. USDA’s June 30 stocks report should provide additional clarity on the ongoing pace of corn consumption.”





News Source:

John Newton, 217-300-1051

News Writer:

University of Illinois Extension

First report of a new crop virus in North America

Published April 10, 2015
Switchgrass leaf samples from which a new mastrevirus was identified show mosaic symptoms. Photo courtesy of the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology.

URBANA, Ill. - The switchgrass exhibited mosaic symptoms—splotchy, discolored leaves—characteristic of a viral infection, yet tested negative for known infections. Deep sequencing, a new technology, revealed the plants were infected with a new virus in the genus mastrevirus, the first of its kind found in North America.

University of Illinois scientists reported in Archives of Virology evidence of the new mastrevirus, tentatively named switchgrass mosaic-associated virus 1 (SgMaV-1). Other members of the mastrevirus genus, a group of DNA viruses, are known to be responsible for decimating yields in staple food crops (including corn, wheat, and sugarcane) throughout Africa, Europe, Asia, and Australia. It has never been reported in North America.

Many mastreviruses are transmitted from plant to plant by leafhoppers. The rate of infection rises with leafhopper populations, which can cause widespread epidemics and complete yield loss in some crops. Researchers are not sure what vector transmits SgMaV-1 and the impacts of the virus on switchgrass biomass yield, nor do they know what other crops the new virus affects. 

“My fear is that this virus is in corn and wheat, and we are not even aware of it,” said first author Bright Agindotan, a former postdoctoral researcher at the Energy Biosciences Institute, housed within the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology. “It’s like when you are sick and go to the hospital, but the doctors say nothing is wrong with you because they only test for what they know.”

To be considered the same species in the mastrevirus genus, two viruses must share a minimum of 75 percent of the same genome. Agindotan and his team found two virus isolates that shared 88 percent of the same genome, but just 56-57 percent of any other known mastrevirus. These two isolates are strains of SgMaV-1.

Researchers tested 17 switchgrass varieties that had mosaic symptoms at the EBI Energy Farm. They detected the new virus in all but one variety, called Shenandoah. Switchgrass is a perennial crop, so these infected plants will continue to grow and accumulate the virus year after year, serving as a reservoir for the virus.

“We don't know the impact of this virus on the biomass yield of the energy crops,” said Agindotan, who is currently a research assistant professor at Montana State University. “We don't know if this virus will affect cereal crops. We don't know the specific leafhoppers that transmit it, assuming it is transmitted by leafhoppers like other members of the mastrevirus genus.”

The mosaic symptoms may have been caused by SgMaV-1, another type of virus infecting the plant, or some combination of the two. In future studies, virus-free plants will need to be infected with SgMaV-1 to see which species are vulnerable and what symptoms emerge. Additional research will determine infectivity, host range, pathogenicity, epidemiology, and vector transmission of SgMaV-1.

“The world is like a global village,” Agindotan said. “Plants are imported into United States legally (and illegally) after being certified free of a list of restricted pests. The list is based on known pests. So, it is possible to import plants infected with unknown pests. The origin of the new virus is unknown, but it is most closely related to members of the mastrevirus genus found in Australia.

“You can only test for what you know. Using a technology that detects both known and unknown pathogens is a good tool for food safety and biosecurity,” Bright concluded.

Associate professor of crop sciences Carl Bradley, also a member of the IGB, and assistant professor of crop sciences Leslie Domier contributed to this work. The paper, “Detection and characterization of the first North American mastrevirus in switchgrass,” is available online (DOI 10.1007/s00705-015-2367-5).

This research was supported by the Energy Biosciences Institute, a public-private collaboration where bioscience and biological techniques are applied to help solve the global energy challenge. The partnership, funded by energy company BP, includes researchers from the University of California, Berkeley; the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; and BP.

News Source:

Carl Bradley, 217-244-7415

News Writer:

Claire Sturgeon