College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences

WSU’s On Solid Ground – Antibacterial Microbes, Legume Flour – Feb. 27, 2013

Natural Soil Antibiotics Offer Potential Alternative to Farm Chemicals

Linda Thomashow, a U.S. Department of Agriculture - Agricultural Research Service geneticist and adjunct professor in plant pathology at WSU.
Linda Thomashow

Research at WSU shows that several naturally-occurring antibiotics can control root disease and promote crop health, setting the stage for more economical and environmentally-sensitive options that farmers can use compared to the standard chemical fare.

“All you have to do is make your microbial community happy,” said Linda Thomashow, a USDA Agricultural Research Service geneticist and adjunct professor in plant pathology at WSU, during a recent presentation at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting in Boston. Thomashow said the door is open for scientists, farmers, and industry to develop commercial applications of root bacteria that can protect the rest of the plant.

Typically, science has concentrated on treating the above-ground parts of a plant, Thomashow said. “So much less is understood about the plant mechanics for defenses that are available underground.”

Certain bacteria produce antibiotics that protect crop plants.
Certain bacteria produce antibiotics that protect crop plants.

However, the tools of molecular biology have helped scientists understand the microbial and molecular workings of bacteria in the rhizosphere, the layer of soil next to roots, including how antibiotics there can suppress plant diseases. Thomashow calls these “a first line of defense.”

One particularly ominous-sounding disease, take-all, causes more than $1 billion per year in losses by rotting roots and depriving plants of water and nutrients. It’s often found in soils that are continuously replanted in wheat, whose money-making potential discourages farmers from planting alternative crops that might break disease cycles.

In some areas of eastern Washington, farms have seen several decades of continuous wheat. Those same soils have in turn seen high densities of the bacterium Pseudomonas fluorescens producing a compound called DAPG that can suppress the take-all fungus. Such beneficial bacteria create “suppressive soils” that help control soilborne pathogens with minimal use of commercial fungicides and other chemicals. It should be possible to get similar results with a commercially-available soil amendment if scientists, industry members, and farmers rise to the challenge and expense of bringing a living thing to market, said Thomashow. “If you balance that against the expense of developing a new chemical, it really doesn’t cost any more, and it’s a sustainable alternative to the use of chemicals.”

Learn more about take-all at http://bit.ly/15qn2CW. Learn more about how plant pathologists are discovering alternatives to chemical pest and disease control by visiting the WSU Department of Plant Pathology website at http://plantpath.wsu.edu/.

–Eric Sorensen

Adding Legume Flour to Wheat Bread Could Expand Markets

Roasting legumes before grinding for flour makes for better dough.
Roasting legumes before grinding for flour makes for better dough.

Legume flour can increase the amount of protein, fiber, minerals, the essential amino acid lysine, and disease-fighting phytochemicals in wheat bread. However, fortifying bread with legume flour can make the dough more difficult to process and result in low loaf volume. A recent article in Cereal Chemistry detailing a study led by Byung-Kee Baik, then of the WSU Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, revealed that the best way to counteract these problems is to roast the legumes before grinding into flour. By determining the best way to prepare legume flour for bread, the study could lead to more nutritious baked goods on supermarket shelves.

Baik suggests that flour made from roasted legumes, when incorporated into bread recipes, has more desirable characteristics compared to flour from raw, cooked, or fermented legumes. Roasted legume flour bread had higher loaf volume and a more appealing aroma than bread using cooked legume flour. In addition, bread dough made from roasted vs. raw or fermented legume flour was less sticky, and therefore easier to handle.

Beyond the health-promoting qualities that legumes can add to bread, they also help meet the goals of sustainable agriculture when used as rotation crops because they help to fix nitrogen, improve soil physical structure, and control pests and weeds. Baik’s study could therefore encourage more production of chickpeas, lentils, peas, and soybeans, as well as help growers find new markets for their harvest. To view the article, see http://bit.ly/TKNcwo.

To find out more about research in WSU’s Department of Crop and Soil Science, see http://bit.ly/wsucss.

-Bob Hoffmann

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.

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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.  

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


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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.

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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

Apples-USDA-ARS-350An apple a day could keep obesity away

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

PULLMAN, Wash. – Scientists at Washington State University have concluded that nondigestible compounds in apples – specifically, Granny Smith apples – may help prevent disorders associated with obesity. The study, thought to be the first to assess these compounds in apple cultivars grown in the Pacific Northwest, appears in October’s print edition of the journal Food Chemistry. “We know that, in general, apples are a good source of these nondigestible compounds but there are differences in varieties,” said food scientist Giuliana Noratto, the study’s lead researcher. “Results from this study will help consumers to discriminate between apple varieties that can aid in the fight against obesity.” 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.

Students on ropes courseImpact: 4-H Challenge Course

Washington State University Extension 4-H Youth Development is collaborating with Seattle Parks and Recreation to provide the residents of Seattle, King County, and beyond, the benefits of an educational partnership for school districts, non-profit organizations, institutions of higher education, businesses, and the public, resulting in the strengthening of community life.

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The WSU Extension Strengthening Families Program for Parents and Youth Aged 10-14, is a parent, youth, and family skills-building curriculum that focuses on strengthening parenting skills, building family strengths, and preventing teen substance abuse and other behavioral problems.

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Women, Farms & Food is an innovative project that addresses the risk management needs of women producers using technology and follow-up skills-based workshops. The Women in Agriculture program began in Washington State in 2005, with annual state conferences offering speakers, practical advice, collaborative discussion, and networking opportunities.

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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.

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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.

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CAHNRS Alumni & Friends
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PH: 509-335-2243
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