New cell line could lead to more reliable vaccine development to fight costly pig virus

The production of autogenous vaccines to fight individual strains of the virus that causes porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome depends on the ability of scientists to isolate the virus, but sometimes that’s a tricky process. A new study from an Iowa State University researcher shows that a new cell line may offer a better alternative to the cell line most commonly used to isolate the PRRS virus. But the vast majority of vaccine producers use the established cell line, and it remains to be seen how readily they might adopt the use of a new one.

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UV light shows promise in mitigation of costly swine virus

Experiments testing the ability of ultraviolet light to stop the spread of a costly virus for pork producers has shown promise, according to an ISU research team. Ultraviolet light analyzed in experiments irradiates aerosolized droplets of the virus that causes porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome. The researchers hope to scale their experiments up to a size comparable to pork production facilities.

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Grant to help fill gaps in how livestock manure management affects antibiotic resistance

Iowa State University researchers received a $1 million grant to study how manure management systems in livestock production may give rise to antibiotic resistance. Human, animal and environmental health interact in complex ways that influence the pace at which antibiotic resistance spreads, and the researchers hope their work will shed light on these connections.

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As climate change cranks up the heat in the Mojave Desert, not all species are equally affected

A new study shows how climate change is having a much greater impact on birds than small mammals in the Mojave Desert in the southwestern United States. The study could inform conservation practices and shed new light on how climate change affects various species differently. The research drew on cutting-edge computer modeling as well as survey data from more than 100 years ago.

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Collaboration with Homeland Security focuses on detecting biothreats

Researchers at Iowa State University are developing a portable sensor platform capable of detecting numerous biothreats, such as the coronavirus and other toxic agents. The research team has entered a collaborative agreement with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security worth as much as $2.5 million over five years to develop the technology, which would be a far more portable and flexible method for detecting biothreats than most current techniques.

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Making sense of a universe of corn genetics

A new study details the latest efforts to predict traits in corn based on genomics and data analytics. The data management technique could help to “turbo charge” the seemingly endless amount of genetic stocks contained in the world’s seed banks, leading to faster and more efficient development of new crop varieties.

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Study: Crop diversification can improve environmental outcomes without sacrificing yields

Diversifying agricultural systems beyond a narrow selection of crops leads to a range of ecosystem improvements while also maintaining or improving yields, according to a new study that analyzed thousands of previously conducted experiments. Diversification practices such as crop rotations and planting prairie strips can lead to “win-win” results that protect the environment without sacrificing yields, according to the analysis.

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Making health a central part of identity may improve mask compliance, other healthy behaviors

Thinking of health as an essential part of identity encourages healthier behaviors, including adherence to physical distancing and mask guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to newly published research. The results of the study also highlighted differences in how political views influence response to public health messages.

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Diagnosing Parkinson’s disease with skin samples could lead to earlier detection

New research shows a simple skin test can accurately identify Parkinson’s disease, which could lead to earlier detection of the disease and better outcomes for patients. Currently, Parkinson’s disease is diagnosed by clinical signs and symptoms but only definitively diagnosed at autopsy. The researchers conducted a blinded study of 50 skin samples using an assay originally designed to detect mad cow disease.

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Heavy rainfall drives a third of nitrogen runoff, according to new study

Extreme rain events that occur on nine days a year drive around a third of all nitrogen yields on farmland in the Mississippi River basin, according to a new study. The research could inform how and when farmers apply nitrogen fertilizer to their fields and has environmental implications for the hypoxic zone in the Gulf of Mexico.

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Digging into soil organic matter

A new study found patterns in how soil organic matter forms across a wide range of climate types. Understanding how soils break down or preserve organic matter is important because organic matter plays a central role in the kind of services soils can provide, such as whether they make good agricultural soils or if they can sequester carbon to slow climate change.

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New study on migration success reinforces need for monarch butterfly milkweed habitat

A recently published study presents evidence that the migration success of monarchs hasn’t declined in recent years and thus cannot explain the steep decline in the monarch population over the last few decades. The study drew on data collected on 1.4 million monarch butterflies that were tagged in the United States Midwest from 1998 to 2015 and emphasizes the need for new monarch habitat.

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Plant scientists use robotics to study the interaction of heat stress responses in corn

A new study shows how two responses in separate locations inside plant cells work in concert to help corn plants respond to heat stress. The research was made possible by the Enviratron, an innovative plant sciences facility at Iowa State University that utilizes a robotic rover and highly controlled growth chambers.

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Grant to help scientists, industry and farmers harness biomass and manure to fuel farms

A $10 million federal grant will power a multi-institutional consortium aiming to create new value chains on U.S. farms. The consortium will innovate methods for farmers to make more efficient use of resources with an emphasis on the generation of renewable natural gas, improved rural economic outcomes and protection of the environment.

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Survey of rural Iowa communities will gauge pandemic response

Residents in 70 rural Iowa communities soon will receive surveys that will help to inform state and federal officials as they orchestrate the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey, orchestrated by researchers at Iowa State University and the University of Iowa, will cover topics ranging from the availability of health care services to the reliability of high-speed internet to the economic stresses placed on a community by the pandemic.

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Grant will help scientists break new ground in gene editing

A new grant from the National Institutes of Health will allow Iowa State University scientists to continue to develop gene editing technologies to model human disease in zebrafish. The research aims to build new tools to determine which genes have therapeutic potential to treat human genetic diseases that affect the cardiovascular, immune and nervous systems.

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Scientists developing portable viral tests for future pandemics

Iowa State University researchers are developing a portable, inexpensive technology that could allow people to test for the presence of a virus or antibodies without having to go to a medical facility. The technology is still about a year away, but it could come in handy in the event of a resurgence of the coronavirus or for future pandemics.

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Study gauges insecticide effects on monarch butterflies

A newly published study sheds light on how insecticides commonly applied to crops affect monarch caterpillars. Conservation efforts to protect monarch butterfly populations depend on planting milkweed on agricultural land, but doing so may put caterpillars in close proximity to harmful insecticides.

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New test measures corn nitrogen needs with greater accuracy

A recently published study analyzed a combination of soil tests to gauge corn nitrogen needs more accurately than the standard chemical tests that have been in use for roughly 50 years. The research could result in economic benefits to farmers and improved environmental quality.

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Major NSF-sponsored grant will help researchers discover ways to improve urban sustainability

A new $2.5 million grant will help an interdisciplinary team of researchers analyze innovative approaches to improving urban sustainability. The team will study various approaches to bolstering local food production in Des Moines and the surrounding area and how those approaches could affect nutrition, waste and environmental impacts.

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Sorghum study illuminates relationship between humans, crops and the environment in domestication

A new study illustrates the concept of a domestication triangle, in which human genetics interact with sorghum genetics and the environment to influence the traits farmers select in their crops. The concept gives a more complete systemic picture of domestication.

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Regional trends in overdose deaths reveal multiple opioid epidemics, according to new study

A recently published study shows the United States in the grip of several simultaneously occurring opioid epidemics, rather than just a single crisis. The epidemics came to light after the researchers analyzed county-level data on drug overdose deaths. The study highlights the importance of different policy responses to the epidemics rather than a single set of policies.

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Software competition advances understanding of genetic function

Sequencing a genome doesn’t necessarily reveal the functions of individual genes. An Iowa State University scientist helps to organize a competition to evaluate the accuracy of software programs that predict gene function. The recently published results of the latest competition included 144 entries from 68 teams.

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Shelter animals receive care at ISU College of Veterinary Medicine on their way to adoption

A surgery, anesthesia and community outreach course for third-year veterinary students at Iowa State University prepares students for clinical practice while helping dogs and cats in animal shelters and rescues get adopted. The program treats all common problems presented in shelter pets, including eye, ear and skin problems and gastrointestinal parasites.

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Ambitious strategies to combat pests and disease in organic agriculture

Iowa State University researchers have received a grant to look at innovative ways that allow organic fruit and vegetable growers to combat pests, weeds and disease. Much of the research centers on mestotunnels, or material used to create a physical barrier to protect plants from certain pests. The practices to be analyzed could help organic growers with management challenges without the use of conventional or organic pesticides.

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Corn and soybean rotation could pose long-term tradeoffs for soil health

A new study examines the mechanisms that drive the decomposition of organic matter in soils that undergo long-term corn and soybean crop rotations. The study shows how corn and soybean rotations can provide important environmental and management benefits for farmers, but the practice also comes with tradeoffs that some farmers may wish to address by adjusting their management practices.

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Machine learning in agriculture: scientists are teaching computers to diagnose soybean stress

Machine learning could lead to automated processes that would allow soybean producers to diagnose crop stresses more efficiently. A multi-disciplinary team at Iowa State University recently received a grant to develop the technology, which could lead to unmanned aerial vehicles surveying fields and automatically analyzing crop images.

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