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Agriculture

Timothy and alfalfa are important forage crops that are fed to domestic animals. In future climate change, they will be exposed to elevated concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) and ozone (O3). We know little about how common varieties of these perennial plants respond to current levels of CO2 and O3. We do not know how cultivars of these plants would respond to future elevated levels of CO2 and O3.Plants will be exposed to current and future levels of CO2 and O3 in greenhouse exposure chambers.

In an effort to reduce dependence on petroleum, promote economic growth and diversification, and reduce human-induced climate change, the United States has developed a strategy that includes bio-based production of energy and compounds that can be used as precursors for industrial processes. It has been suggested that microorganisms with differing physiological capacities may provide an opportunity to generate commercially valuable products in a more sustainable, commercially viable manner.

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.

Research Project Year: 2014-2018

Background

Corn silage is a primary source of feed on most New England dairy farms, and feed is the largest annual expense. The corn growing season spans mid-May through early-October, with variation according to weather, region, and the maturity period (days to harvest) of the corn that the farmer selects. Corn planted in Massachusetts ranges from 85 days to maturity to well over 114 days to maturity.

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.

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.

"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.

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.

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.

Cranberry production has a long history in Massachusetts (MA) that adds important economic and aesthetic value to the region.  About 30% of U.S. acreage and the two largest cranberry handler companies are located in Massachusetts.

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