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Massachusetts Agricultural Experiment Station

Conservation and Utilization of Plant Genetic Resources

The market for specialty foods targeted for Latino populations is especially strong in New England. While most of these foods are imported, many can be locally grown, offering a strong and increasing market for local farmers. We will work to evaluate germplasm of Latin American specialty crops with the objective of identifying parental materials to initiate a breeding program for these crops.

Defective Sperm Functions and Stallion Infertility and Cryopreservation

A male factor is responsible for about half of the cases of equine infertility: this fact highlights the need for a better understanding of the molecular basis of male equine infertility both at the genetic as well as at the biochemical level.This project is relevant for the study of male infertility from several perspectives: 1) results of the experiments will provide a significant advance in understanding at the molecular level the mechanisms of the causes of male infertility.

Detecting and Monitoring Endocrine Disrupting Compounds in Waterways

There is concern over the presence of pollutants in our water supply. Among the pollutants that have elicited the greatest alarm are those that can alter the development and reproduction of aquatic organisms and potentially harm human health. These chemicals, generally referred to as endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs), enter waterways as runoff from farms, effluent from wastewater treatment and manufacturing plants, and leachate from septic systems.

Developing Crambe Abyssinica and Brassica Juncea as Ideal Biofuel Crops via Manipulating Tolerance to Multiple Abiotic Stresses

This project will develop and diversify Crambe (an oilseed crop) and brassica (mustard green) species as dedicated bioenergy crops for biodiesel production. The proposed strategy will increase crop biomass and seed yields while growing these crops on marginal and heavy-metal-contaminated lands, thus increasing both yield and arable acreage. This approach to cultivation on contaminated sites and marginal lands will not create competition for land or displacement of food crops.

Developing Quality Chinese Medicinal Herb Production in the Northeast

"Increased consumer interest in complementary and alternative healthcare in the United States has led to rapid growth in the practice of acupuncture and Oriental medicine (AOM) in the Northeast. As part of their patient care, AOM practitioners frequently prescribe Chinese medicinal herbs (CMH), nearly all of which are imported. These imports currently face questions regarding quality and purity. Local production of CMH represents an opportunity for growers to produce cash crops for an untapped market and to provide of safe, secure, and quality herbs for AOM practitioners.

Development of a Loop-Mediated Isothermal Amplification Method for Rapid Diagnosis of Avian and Animal Chlamydiosis

Chlamydiae are implicated in a variety of clinically and economically important diseases in livestock and companion animals. These bacteria are associated with abortion, conjunctivitis, encephalomyelitis, enteritis, pneumonia, and polyarthritis in ruminants. Infection with these bacteria is the most common cause of abortion in sheep and goats and also causes zoonotic infection in humans which, in pregnant women, can result in spontaneous abortion.

Development of Food Grade Delivery Systems to Encapsulate, Protect and Release Bioactive Food Lipids

Some food oils, such as those containing omega-3 fatty acids, are nutritionally beneficial and yet largely under-consumed in the United States. These oils can be very unstable causing the formation of strong off-flavors that result in consumer rejection of omega-3 fortified food products. This project will develop new technologies that can stabilize omega-3 fatty acids so they can be incorporated into a wide variety of foods. Production of omega-3 fatty acids fortified foods could have significant consumer health benefits especially for heart and mental health.

Development of More Sustainable Disease Management Tactics for Apple Production in the Northeast

Apples are a high value crop in Massachusetts and in the entire Northeastern United States, with an annual farm-gate value of $11.6 million and $550 million, respectively, in 2008. Nearly 100,000 acres are devoted to apples in the Northeast, with 4,000 of those in Massachusetts. Apples in the Northeast are attacked by dozens of pests, both arthropods and diseases, and, as a result, apple production is one of the crops listed in the Environmental Working Group's Dirty Dozen list - a list of the fruits and vegetables that on average use the most pesticides in their production.

Development of Real-time PCR Methodology for the Rapid Enumeration of Low numbers of Salmonella and E. coli 0157:H7 in Ground Beef and Raw Vegetables Without Enrichment

There is a critical need in the meat processing and raw vegetable processing industries for the development of a rapid method for detection of infectious bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli O157:H7 in such products well before shipping, so as to prevent infectious outbreaks and costly recalls.

DNA Data Capture from Armored Scale Insect Specimens Intercepted in Plant Quarantine

Armored scale insects include many destructive pests of orchard crops, forestry, horticulture, and agriculture, costing an estimated two billion dollars per year in the US. They also have an extraordinary tendency to be invasive. As of 2005, the US had 132 species of armored scale insects introduced from other countries, comprising fully 40% of armored scale species in the US. Most of these (64%) were considered pests. About one new invasive diaspidid species is detected in the U.S. every year.

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