The topic of nutrient density in food crops has been active among consumers, producers and the scientific community in recent years. Literature on food composition demonstrates that the mineral nutrient density of vegetables has fallen in the past 50 years. This decline is associated with two factors: declines in soil fertility and with the genetics of plant cultivars that accumulate yield at higher rates than they accumulate mineral nutrients.
Massachusetts Agricultural Experiment Station
Utilizing food systems to improve nutrition without the need for artificial fortification of food or use of dietary supplements of mineral nutrients is important in ending malnutrition. Malnutrition from deficiencies of mineral elements is reported to be on the rise worldwide, even in the United States. It is estimated that half of the world population suffers from incidences of mineral nutrient deficiencies. These deficiencies limit the physical, intellectual, and mental health activities of the affected people.
In order to compete in the marketplace, assure profitability and preserve the environment, cranberry growers must overcome barriers to sustainability. This project has three components related to increased sustainability in Massachusetts cranberry production:
Our current ignorance of most of the mechanisms involved in plant iron homeostasis is a major obstacle in devising approaches for biofortification of staple foods with iron. Biofortification refers to the genetic engineering of staple crops to accumulate additional bioavailable iron in edible parts, and is widely regarded as a sustainable means of improving the iron nutrition of the 2-3 billion people worldwide (World Health Organization) whose inadequate diet causes iron deficiency anemia.
The dendritic nature of freshwater streams presents unique conservation concerns. Linear streams are prone to fragmentation that can reduce or completely prevent animal migration. Understanding the evolutionary consequences of habitat fragmentation is critical for predicting population response and ultimately the likelihood of population persistence. The goal of this project is to gain further understanding of the genetic and evolutionary consequences of stream fragmentation.
Approximately 60% of the total land area in Massachusetts is forested. Most of this land is privately owned, and often overcrowded with low-value species. In the absence of a market for these trees, the cost of thinning exceeds the value of the timber produced, resulting in minimal to no forest management. Value-added products present a recognized way of marketing these trees while both defraying the costs of thinning and maintaining the economic viability of private forestland.
Many bee pollinators are in decline, and exposure to diseases has been implicated as one of the potential causes Novel work in my lab found that consuming sunflower pollen dramatically reduced bumble bee infection by a gut pathogen. These are excited results, but at this point we have established this effect only in the lab, with a single sunflower variety, one bumble bee species, and one pathogen species.
Annual bluegrass (Poa annua) is a highly invasive weed on short-mown golf course surfaces (fairways, tees, putting greens) where it often becomes the dominant species despite extensive attempts to suppress it. Superintendents often resort to managing it instead of more pest-tolerant bentgrasses (Agrostis spp.). P. annua can provide an acceptable playing surface for putting greens and fairways when properly maintained, but this requires extensive chemical inputs due to its lack of stress tolerance and susceptibility to many diseases and insect pests. P.
The quantitative aspects of microbial inactivation and growth, and of chemical and biochemical changes in foods, play an important role in food safety, quality, stability and nutritional value. These aspects have become even more important now, as new preservation technologies are being developed and concern about the safety of foods in the United States is growing. Safety, nutrition and quality issues also strongly affect the economics of food production, processing and handling.
Laminitis is a crippling disease that affects about one-percent of the more than nine million horses in North America. The cost of laminitis to the horse industry exceeds $1 billion annually, predominantly from loss of use of the affected animals rather than medical costs. Laminitis results from failure of the digital laminae, which suspend a horse's distal phalanx, and thus the axial skeleton and all that is attached to it, within the hoof capsule. The laminae are composed of a hoof wall-associated epidermal layer and a distal phalanx-associated dermal layer.