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.

Featured Event

Illustration of a woman holding wine near a music band. Text over the image reads: The Auction of Washington Wines Wine and Music Festival, WSU Tri-Cities Campus, June 10, Saturday 6 pm. Learn More. Support Wine.

FACTS

Diversity

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

Scholarships

CAHNRS students are awarded more than $600,000 in scholarships annually.

Discovery

CAHNRS leads in discovery through its high-quality research programs. In 2014, CAHNRS received research funding exceeding $81.5M. This accounts for nearly 40% of all research funding received by WSU.  

Opportunity

CAHNRS has 39 student clubs and organizations to enhance student experiences and opportunities.

Job Opportunities


4-H Youth Development Program Associate Director (pdf)
Position # 124955



CAHNRS Academic Programs

Fall undergradsUndergraduate Studies

Check out what our academic departments and programs have 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.

 

Inspiring Teamwork - Arron Carter pic

Inspiring Teamwork – Arron Carter

It started with a car, a ’69 Corvette Stingray to be exact.

When Arron Carter, the director of the Washington State University Winter Wheat Breeding Program, was in high school his agricultural teacher had a ’69 Corvette Stingray. Every year this teacher would let his favorite senior take the car to senior prom. Carter had never taken an agriculture class before, but he knew he wanted to drive that car.

“Well, if I’m going to be the favorite senior,” Carter said to himself, “I’d better start taking some ag classes.”…

Read More: Inspiring Teamwork – Arron Carter

 










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.

Research Update

Washington State University’s screening continues to find no evidence of glyphosate herbicide resistance in Pacific Northwest wheat varieties

In each of the last three years (2014, 2015 and 2016), the field screening process has involved over 80 varieties, 2,000 advanced breeding lines and more than 35,000 individual plots from WSU cereal breeding and variety evaluation programs. Collectively, varieties included in these trials represent over 95 percent of the wheat acreage planted in Washington.

Featured Research

Want fries with that? Stealth potato virus threatens industry

Newly emerged viruses threaten the U.S. potato industry, including potatoes grown in Washington. Several newly evolved strains of the disease known as potato virus Y, or PVY, can render potatoes unmarketable and reduce crop yield. What’s worse is the new viruses are particularly difficult to detect with the naked eye.

Horned larks undeterred by efforts to protect canola seedlings

Horned larks are turning up in droves near Lind, Wash. and decimating newly planted winter and spring canola fields despite multiple efforts to deter them.

In search of the perfect steak

Imagine taking your first bite of a $40 rib-eye steak—only to chew on beef that’s as tough as shoe leather. Talk about disappointment! “A tough steak is not a pleasant experience,” says Frank Hendrix, a WSU Extension Educator and animal scientist.

Workshops to discuss changing water forecast for Columbia Basin

How changing water availability in the Columbia River Basin could affect people, farms and fish is the focus of a series of free public workshops in June. Scheduled for June 21, 22 and 23 in Richland, Wenatchee and Spokane, the workshops give a first look at the 2016 Columbia River Basin Long-Term Water Supply and Demand Forecast.

After landslide, communities rewarded for resilience

Two years after the deadly landslide that devastated the Oso, Wash., area, the towns of Darrington and Arlington were announced April 27 as finalists in the America’s Best Communities (ABC) competition.

$11M funds food safety tech transfer to markets

WSU aims to meet growing demand for safe, high quality, additive-free packaged foods thanks to two recent investments in innovative food processing technology based on microwave energy.




Alumni & Friends

Welcome to alumni, friends, and supporters of the College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences (CAHNRS). You are a core part of our CAHNRS Coug family and have made major impacts in our college, communities, and throughout the world. We recognize only a handful of them here.

More than 9,000 alumni and friends contributed to our Campaign for WSU, the most ambitious fundraising effort in university history. The campaign concluded in 2015 with $215 million and endless amounts of impact. Here is a glimpse of what transpired in the Campaign.

Although the campaign concluded, momentum continues to make a difference in our land-grant mission and education. On-going investment in time and resources from our alumni and friends helps to advance our best programs, attract the most talented faculty, and support our brightest students.

There are so many ways to stay involved with CAHNRS. Share your news in the college’s magazine ReConnect. Get involved with student success or support our college as whole by making a gift to the CAHNRS Excellence Fund.

 

Contact Us

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







Faculty & Staff

Important Dates and Deadlines

 

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
cahnrs.deans@wsu.edu
509-335-4561

Lisa Johnson:
Assistant to the Dean
Hulbert 421C
PO Box 646242
Pullman WA 99164-6242
janowski@wsu.edu
509-335-3590







How many varieties of wheat has WSU developed?

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