College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences

Plant Aspirin, Classic Science, Wheat Rust, Engagement

Calcium Helps Plants Make Their Own Aspirin

Calcium builds strong bones, good teeth—and healthy plants, according to a new study from WSU forthcoming in Nature.

Experiments show that calcium, when bound to a protein called calmodulin, prompts plants to make salicylic acid (SA) when threatened by infection or other danger. SA is a close chemical relative of aspirin. In plants, SA acts as a signal molecule that kicks off a series of reactions that help defend against external threats.

That plants make salicylic acid has been known for more than 100 years, said B.W. Poovaiah, Regents Professor and director of the study, but the role of calcium in signaling a plant to make SA has not been known before.

“We are now beginning to understand the molecular mechanism connecting the calcium/calmodulin signaling to plant immunity,” said Poovaiah.

Poovaiah said that in controlling salicylic acid level, calcium acts like a gatekeeper within the cells of a plant, directing incoming information and helping the plant respond to such dangers as pathogen attacks. Normal, healthy plants have a low level of SA in their cells. That level rises when the plant is threatened by infection or environmental stress.

“When we expect danger, we try to take precautions,” said Poovaiah. “Plants cannot run away. Plants have to turn on their built-in system to protect themselves. The plant has to produce different signal molecules. One of them is salicylic acid.”

But a rise in SA levels also causes the plant to slow its growth, perhaps saving its strength for the battle against the pathogen. That sets up a challenging situation for both the plant—grow faster or protect myself better?—and farmers, who might view SA as a tool to protect their plants from disease. A plant that makes high levels of SA all the time will be safe from infection but will grow slowly. A plant that makes little or no SA will grow like gangbusters but be very susceptible to infection.

“It’s a fine balance,” said Liqun Du, lead author and assistant research professor. “Too much is bad; too little is bad.”

To read the paper online, please visit: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature07612.

plants make their own aspirin

Plants make salicylic acid when threatened by infection or other danger; salicylic acid is a close chemical relative of aspirin.


Classic Science Lab Exercise Germinated

A journal article authored by Michael Neff, assistant professor of crop biotechnology, and two Washington State University undergraduate students, may revive interest in a classic high school and college science laboratory exercise.

The how-to-do-it article has been accepted for publication in the journal American Biology Teacher.

Agriculture education majors Dan Tedor, a junior from Spirit Lake, Idaho, and Lori Sanderson, who graduated last May, conducted research for the project. Sanderson is now teaching high school ag science in Onalaska.

“Plants use light as a source of information in addition to using it as energy for photosynthesis,” said Neff. “Plants have a group of photoreceptors that read the light environment and then regulate growth and development based on that environment.”

Proof that a specific wavelength of red light induces germination in lettuce seed, and that far-red light inhibits germination, was demonstrated in 1952.

“That experiment demonstrated there was a molecular switch that could be turned on by red light and be turned off by far-red light,” Neff said.

The experiment became a science lab exercise taught until the early 1990s. “The main reason it was discontinued was because lettuce seeds obtained from growers and seed supply companies had lost the ability genetically to respond to light to control germination,” Neff said. “Most likely that’s because breeders had been breeding out that response. Farmers want lettuce seed to germinate all the time.”

Neff and the students tested 14 varieties of lettuce seed derived from the Grand Rapids lettuce variety used in the original experiment to see if any of them retained a red and far-red control of seed germination.

“We found that one variety did. Waldman’s Dark Green is the only variety that maintains a strong red, far-red control of seed germination.”

The research was funded by a grant from the College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences to support undergraduate research, as well as grants from the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy.

A classic science experiment teachers plant-light interactions

A classic science experiment teaches plant-light interactions.


Wheat Disease Recovery Plan in the Works

A destructive race of wheat stem rust, referred to as Ug99, could threaten the U.S. wheat crop in the near future. The name, Ug99, comes from Uganda where it was first described and shown to seriously impact wheat production.

Tim Murray, professor of plant pathology in Pullman and an expert on wheat diseases, will be leading a multi-state and multi-agency effort to prepare a recovery plan should Ug99 be introduced to the U.S. To address the threat, an international conference, The Borlaug Global Rust Initiative, will be held in Mexico in March. The conference was organized by Nobel laureate Norman Borlaug.

Murray has been invited to participate in the conference. The conference brings together the world’s experts on wheat rusts to discuss all aspects of the current state of knowledge of Ug99.

Scot Hulbert, R. James Cook Endowed Chair in Cropping Systems Pathology and a world-renowned researcher on plant-pathogen interactions, and Xianming Chen, research geneticist with USDA-ARS and an adjunct professor in the WSU plant pathology department, will also be representing WSU at the conference.

To learn more about Ug99, please visit: http://tinyurl.com/7qsa9x.

Rust symptoms on wheat

Rust symptoms on wheat


Carnegie Recognizes WSU’s Engagement

WSU today was named among 119 national university and college recipients of the 2008 “Community Engagement Certificate” from The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

The Washington D.C.-based foundation selection recognizes higher education institutions that demonstrate excellence in “alignment between mission, culture, leadership, resources and practices that support dynamic and noteworthy community engagement.” The award is issued by the foundation as part of an effort “to encourage more higher education institutions to reach out to the world around them.”

WSU was selected for the honor in the dual categories of curricular engagement and outreach and partnerships and lauded as a university that engages faculty, students and community in mutually beneficial and respectful collaboration.

“WSU is integrated throughout all 39 Washington counties with hands-on programs that make a difference to the citizens all around the state,” said WSU President Elson S. Floyd. “This award acknowledges that WSU is engaged in cooperative enterprises, educational experiences and cutting-edge research that is changing lives, not just throughout the state of Washington but also in communities around the world.”

For more information, please visit: http://ext.wsu.edu/.

WSU is widely recognized for its cooperative enterprises, educational experiences and cutting-edge research that changes lives

WSU is widely recognized for its cooperative enterprises, educational experiences and cutting-edge research that changes lives.

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CAHNRS is more than agriculture. With 24 majors, 19 minors, and 27 graduate level programs, we are one of the largest, most diverse colleges at WSU. CAHNRS Cougs are making a difference in the wellbeing of individuals, families, and communities, improving ecological and economic systems, and advancing agricultural sciences.

FACTS

Diversity

With 24 majors, 19 minors, and 27 graduate level programs, CAHNRS is one of the largest, most diverse colleges at WSU.

The Rock Doc

KirstenPeters
Dr. Kirsten Peters

The Rock Doc is a nationally syndicated newspaper column written by Dr. Kirsten Peters, covering many scientific and research related topics in a upbeat and entertaining fashion. Dr. Peter’s humor and anecdotes help to bring these stories to a public audience by showing how they affect everyday life. The most recent articles are linked below.



Students

Fall undergradsUndergraduate Studies

Check out every department and program CAHNRS has to offer, from Interior Design to Agriculture to Wildlife Ecology. We have 13 departments and schools to prepare you for your chosen career.

Grad student dogGraduate Studies

Students have a variety of options to pursue masters and doctoral degrees. Many of these have very specific background requirements, so we suggest exploring the individual programs for academic guidelines.

CTLLCenter for
Transformational
Learning & Leadership

The CTLL is a student, faculty, alumni and industry partner collaboration for high quality learning and leadership beyond the classroom.










CAHNRS Office of Research

Agricultural Research Center

Mission Statement

The goal of the Washington State University CAHNRS Office of Research is to promote research beneficial to the citizens of Washington. The Office of Research recognizes its unique land-grant research mission to the people of Washington and their increasing global connections. The CAHNRS Office of Research provides leadership in discovering and applying knowledge through high-quality research that contributes to a safe and abundant food, fiber, and energy supply while enhancing the sustainability of agricultural and natural resource systems.

Featured Research

Harvesting Winter WheatStudy: Conserving soil and water in dryland wheat region

By Sylvia Kantor, College of Agricultural, Human & Natural Resource Sciences

In the world’s driest rainfed wheat region, Washington State University researchers have identified summer fallow management practices that can make all the difference for farmers, water and soil conservation, and air quality.

Wheat growers in the Horse Heaven Hills of south-central Washington farm with an average of 6-8 inches of rain a year. Wind erosion has caused blowing dust that exceeded federal air quality standards 20 times in the past 10 years. MORE

By Sylvia Kantor, College of Agricultural, Human & Natural Resource Sciences

A new study by researchers at Washington State University shows that mechanical harvesting of cider apples can provide labor and cost savings without affecting fruit, juice, or cider quality.
The study, published in the journal HortTechnology in October, is one of several studies focused on cider apple production in Washington State. It was conducted in response to growing demand for hard cider apples in the state and the nation…MORE

SubsurfaceIrrigationWSU wins national award for water-saving research

By Sylvia Kantor, College of Agricultural, Human & Natural Resource Sciences

Water scarcity – one of the toughest challenges predicted for the 21st century – is being addressed by Washington State University. As part of a multistate research program, WSU is among 19 land-grant universities honored recently for their efforts to help farmers irrigate their land more efficiently, especially during droughts and water shortages.
“A safe, reliable supply of water is inextricably linked to food security,” said Sonny Ramaswamy, director of the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture…MORE

Cooper-500New “magnifying glass” helps spot delinquency risks

By Rebecca E. Phillips, University Communications

PULLMAN, Wash. – Drug abuse, acts of rampage – what’s really the matter with kids today? While there are many places to lay blame – family, attitude, peers, school, community – a new study shows that those risks vary in intensity from kid to kid and can be identified.

Scientists at Washington State University and Pennsylvania State University have found a way to spot the adolescents most susceptible to specific risk factors for delinquency MORE

Beef-cattle-from-iStock-photos-500Food labels can reduce environmental impacts of livestock production

 “It’s important to know that small changes on the consumer side can help, and in fact may be necessary, to achieve big results in a production system,” said Robin White, lead researcher of a Washington State University study appearing in the journal Food Policy. MORE





Extension

With 39 locations throughout the state, WSU Extension is the front door to the University. Extension builds the capacity of individual, organization, businesses and communities, empowering them to find solutions for local issues and to improve their quality of life. Extension collaborates with communities to create a culture of life-long learning and is recognized for its accessible, learner-centered, relevant, high-quality, unbiased educational programs.

MudflatImpact: Burrowing Shrimp and Invasive Eelgrass

Shellfish production in Washington is a $60 million a year industry. Several major pests plague this industry, resulting in major crop loss. One of the most important pests is subterranean burrowing shrimp. These shrimp bioturbate (stir up) the sediment, causing the oysters to sink and die. For the past 60 years the industry has been using the insecticide Sevin to control this pest, but due to lawsuits its use was phased out in 2012. Without alternative control for shrimp, tens of millions of dollars in annual crop revenue will be lost and the industry will quickly lose its economic viability in southwestern Washington.

PoultryFarmImpact: The National Livestock and Poultry Environmental Learning Center

The Environmental Protection Agency has identified agriculture as the leading contributor of pollutants to the nation’s rivers, streams, lakes, and reservoirs. These reports often do not separate animal agriculture from other agricultural enterprises, but they do note that pathogens, nutrients, and oxygen-depleting substances associated with manure are three of the top five pollutants. Some emerging issues related to manure management include: endocrine disruptors (hormones), pharmaceuticals (antimicrobials), and antibiotic resistance in bacteria. Adopting farm practices that minimize the environmental impact is important for food safety.

BiosolidsImpact: Biosolids and Compost

Biosolids are the solids produced during municipal wastewater treatment. Composts are made from a variety of organic materials, including both urban and agriculture sources such as yard trimmings, biosolids, storm debris, food waste or manure, and food processing residues. While these materials have traditionally been viewed as waste, they can play a valuable role as soil amendments in urban and agricultural settings. They provide nutrients and organic matter and they sequester carbon, thereby conserving resources, restoring soils, and combating climate change.

Alumni & Friends

The WSU College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences (CAHNRS) Office of Alumni & Friends is a service unit dedicated to promoting philanthropic support for the college’s research, teaching, and extension programs.

CAHNRS seeks $190 million through the Campaign for WSU. This unprecedented fundraising goal is managed through the CAHNRS Office of Alumni and Friends. If you would like to learn more about the CAHNRS’s fundraising priorities, please explore our website or meet the team.

Funding Priorities

Through the Campaign for Washington State University, CAHNRS and WSU Extension will play a major role in defining answers to complex issues through truly big ideas—feeding the world, powering the planet, and ensuring the health and well-being of children, families, and communities. See below to learn more about how we are addressing these issues in our strategic and on-going  initiatives and development of world-class students.

Wine_grapes03
Wine
renaissance
Organics
lentils
Pulse Crops
Mary Kay Patton
Learning & Leadership (CTLL)
WA38-RFP-1
Tree Fruit
wheat-detail
Grain
AMDT
AMDT

CAHNRS Alumni & Friends
PO Box 646228
Pullman, WA 99164-6228
PH: 509-335-2243
alumni.friends@wsu.edu

 



Faculty & Staff

Important Dates and Deadlines

Professional and Retraining Leave Guidelines

-Due to the Dean’s Office December 22, 2014

A-Z Index of Faculty and Staff Resources:

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Contact Dean’s Office:
Hulbert 421
PO Box 646242
Pullman WA 99164-6242
deans.cahnrs@wsu.edu
509-335-4561

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