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Massachusetts Agricultural Experiment Station

Plants are capable of producing a great diversity of relatively small organic chemicals that are called “secondary”, or, more recently, “specialized” metabolites, because they are not involved in central metabolism (Gang, 2005; Weng and Noel, 2012). Currently, well over 200,000 distinct molecules are known to be produced by plants and found to serve many important roles. As pigments, scents, and flavors they attract pollinators and seed dispersers (Gang, 2005).

Nearly all food and agricultural waste in the U.S. enters landfills, making it the largest contributor of material entering these sites. Biological pre-treatment of large organic molecules by fermentative organisms lowers the high organic carbon load in waste, lowers wastewater treatment costs, and can produce bioenergy to partially offset costs. Conceivably, microbes that grow best above 80°C, or so-called ‘hyperthermophiles’, could be used to consolidate wastewater heat treatment and organic remediation in a single step to decrease costs while producing H2 as an energy product.

Phytophthora species consistently rank as some of the most devastating disease agents in Massachusetts farms. Two species, P. infestans and P. capsici, attack regionally important vegetable crops, including cucurbits, peppers, tomatoes, eggplant and potatoes. In 2007, over 8,000 acres of vegetable crops susceptible to infection by P. capsici and P. infestans were harvested in Massachusetts.

As Massachusetts faces increasing pressure from population expansion, along with increasing challenges due to climate change, we seek a solution to the growing demand in housing that supports the local timber industry and rural economies and also creates an opportunity to store more carbon both in our buildings and across our regional forested landscape. Recent advances in timber technology have produced promising new methods for meeting some of the demand for building materials, as well as the need to store carbon.

Reliable, sustainable sources of clean water are increasingly hard to come by. But did you know that there are a lot of additional benefits from cultivating and protecting freshwater wetlands at the source of some of these waters? Wetland ecosystem services include, but are not limited to, providing verdant habitat and food supply for a large diversity of plant, animal and insect species, water filtration, slowing and spreading of floodwaters, limiting erosion, storage of carbon and other nutrients, temperature buffering, pollinator habitat and forage lands, and water storage.

The agricultural community needs to improve nutrient use efficiency for modern cropping systems to ensure agronomic viability and environmental quality. Improving efficiency will require more than new technology. It will require a different approach to nutrient management: the use of adaptive management concepts and processes. Expected outcomes/impacts of this work include:

The project combines intensive field sampling with an advanced statistical model to compile an extensive, statewide regeneration data set and improve understanding of the factors leading to successful regeneration of desired species and communities following management intervention. Our approach allows for novel understanding of the complete range of factors impacting forest regeneration in Massachusetts and tests alternative management approaches to sustain valuable forest resources under global change.

The food industry is being transformed by two important changes. It has recently been characterized by rising concentration, partly due to a number of large mergers since the beginning of the new millennium.[1] In addition, the advent of the internet is affecting the source of advertising and the method of purchase for many food products. Firms in the industry must devise strategies to adapt to and capitalize on these changes that have the potential to affect market structure and performance.

Mounting epidemiological and experimental evidence consistently indicates that obesity is a robust risk factor for several common cancers, and especially so for colorectal cancer. As obesity has reached an epidemic level and increases in the scope of the problem are further projected, it is critical to understand the mechanism(s) responsible for the link and thereby to develop strategies for prevent obesity-related cancer.

Global climate change is altering the Earth's natural cycling of water from the ground to the air and back again, what is known as the hydrologic cycle. In New England, climate change is predicted to increase temperatures and increase the frequency and strength of rain events. The increased temperatures will result in less snow accumulation in the winter and an increased need for irrigation in the hotter summer as evapo-transpiration increases. This will alter significantly the recharge/extraction cycle. Will less water enter groundwater aquifers because of reduced snow fall?


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