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Department of Microbiology

Improving Forage and Bioenergy Crops for Better Adaptation, Resilience, and Flexibility

As the global human population continues to grow and climate change alters weather patterns and intensifies stress on agricultural systems, we need to find new ways to sustainably increase production agriculture. We focus on grasslands because they are important for global food stability and as a vast ecosystem (66% of agricultural areas are grass lands) have serious global climate implications.

Culture and Characterization of Epitheliocystis Agents in Aquaculture Fish Species

The world fisheries production has levelled off and most of the main fishing areas have reached their maximum potential. In contrast, the global human population is increasing; thus, the demand for aquatic food products also increase. Global aquaculture production attained 90.4 million tons in 2012, generating an incomes US$ 144.4 billion, and the production of food fish was 66.6 million tons. Epitheliocystis is a serious skin and gill disease in fish, believed to be caused by pathogenic intracellular bacteria.

Fly Management in Animal Agriculture Systems and Impacts on Animal Health and Food Safety

The diverticulated crop organ of the common house fly, which is the major insect vector of numerous human food pathogens (e.g., Escherichia coli) is the major reservoir or storage area for this, and other, important food pathogens. It has also been demonstrated that this is where horizontal transmission of antibiotic resistance to E. coli occurs. Thus, the diverticulated crop organ is an essential component in the transmission cycle between pathogens and human foods/food crops.

Sustainable Solutions to Problems Affecting Bee Health

Our goal is to evaluate the role and causative mechanisms of parasitic mites, viruses, and microbes in pollinator abundance and honeybee colony success. Isolation of total RNA and DNA from bee guts will be performed following standard methods currently used in our laboratory. Bee infection status with viruses and the eukaryotic parasites Crithidia and Nosema will be determined by PCR and rtPCR analyses to detect viruses and parasites using RNA and/or DNA extracted from guts as template.

The Science and Engineering for a Biobased Industry and Economy

Only 10 years ago the "brown rot" wood degrading fungi were considered to be poorly evolved organisms in the fungal world. It was known that they lacked many of the enzymatic systems that the taxonomically more numerous "white rot" wood degrading fungi possessed, and it was thought that the brown rot fungi just had not yet reached a stage of evolution to produce these enzymatic systems. In essence, they were thought to be more primitive fungal organisms. However, new genomic analyses conducted over the last 7-8 years have turned this thinking on its head.

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