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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Highlights
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New in June, 2014 - Recent Publications, Grants AwardedHonors and Awards Received, Outreach, Non-technical ArticlesCritical and Emerging Issues


Recent Publications -


Y. Jia, Wamishe, Y, and Zhou, B.  An expedited method for isolation of DNA for PCR from Magnaporthe oryzae stored on filter paper, The Crop Journal (2014),


Gene detection using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is a common method for microbial identification and diagnosis. The classical method of fungal DNA preparation for PCR is a multi-step process and includes growing the fungus in or on a medium, breaking apart the cells, removing proteins, and precipitating DNA. This method is time consuming and labor intensive, and results in chemical waste. In the present study we developed a simple, fast, and inexpensive DNA preparation method using the fungal pathogen Magnaporthe oryzae directly from stored filter paper samples. This new method allows the user to obtain PCR ready DNA in a short amount of time with no chemical waste. The method will be beneficial to those working with fungi and for crop protection. 


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Grants Awarded - none to report.


Special invited presentations given, or honors and awards received - none to report.


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Public Outreach/Stakeholder and Collaborator Contacts -

July 8, Dr. Anna McClung was invited to visit with organic rice grower and miller Leon Langley in Anahuac, TX. Mr. Langley is managing several hundred acres of organically produced rice and is growing 6 varieties developed by ARS.


July 9, Dr. Anna McClung gave an invited presentation to the Texas Rice Improvement Association in Beaumont, TX regarding research at the DBNRRC and on-going plans to provide purified seed of rice varieties that ARS has developed for seed certification programs.


July 10, Dr. Anna McClung and colleagues from Texas AgriLife Research Center in Beaumont hosted an organic workshop. The meeting was attended by some 40 stakeholders. Research results from organic field experiments conducted to determine ways to optimize economic returns from organic rice production were presented. This research is funded in part by a grant from Southern SARE.


July 17, Dr. Anna McClung hosted a group of 9 Federal Grain Inspection Service inspectors that were in Stuttgart for cross training on grading rice. She presented an overview of research conducted at DBNRRC as well as provided a tour of labs that are using technology for determining grain milling and cooking quality.


July 23-24, The Future Scientist program coordinated by Dr. Craig Wilson was held at the DBNRRC. This program mentors teachers from around the state to help bring science education into the classroom. Seventeen teachers visited with several of the labs at DBNRRC and learned about critical rice research issues and how scientists are addressing these problems. Several hands-on laboratory experiments were demonstrated that can be easily utilized in the classroom. These included analysis of grain amylose content using “chemicals” that can be purchased at the grocery store, DNA extraction using bananas, and evaluation of a set of 30 grain samples from the NPGS world collection of rice.


July 28, Ms. Gurpreet Kaur Chandi of FGF Brands, Toronto, Canada, contacted Dr. Anna McClung regarding possible conventional and specialty varieties that could be grown organically. Eight cultivars were identified for sensory analysis by the company.


July 28-30, Drs. Yulin Jia (ARS) and Xueyan Wang [Postdoctoral Research Associate of the University of Arkansas, Rice Research and Extension Center (UA RREC)], were invited to present updates of ARS rice disease resistance research at the Arkansas Plant Powered Production (P3) center annual research and training symposium at Winthrop Rockefeller Institute, Morrilton, Arkansas. The symposium included about 100 researchers and students from various institutions around the state. The P3 Center has been funded by NSF-EPSCoR through its Research Infrastructure and Improvement (RII) program and the State of Arkansas since 2007.  In 2010, the P3 Center was funded an additional five-year cycle, totaling $6.7 million.


July 29, Ms. Linda Gunnell, a 6th grade teacher from Dewitt, Arkansas completed an 8 week summer mentoring program at DBNRRC funded by Arkansas STRIVE. She presented a seminar to the staff about some of the ideas and science-based curricula that she devised as a result of her experience at DBNRRC.


July 30, Nine soybean geneticists and breeders from UAR Fayetteville (Drs. Chen and Mosley) and from Univ Missouri (Dr. Henry Nguyen) met with Dr. Shannon Pinson and Dr. Ehshan Shakiba to learn about the focus and impact of the rice research, seed rejuvenation, and curation of rice mapping populations (GSOR) at the DBNRRC. 


During the month of July DBNRRC was approached by three industry stakeholders to help resolve genetic purity and identity issues of rice using genetic markers that have been developed at the center that can be used to determine off-types, seed mixtures, and mislabeled varieties.


During the month of July, 3,234 rice accessions from the Genetics Stocks Oryza (GSOR) collection were distributed to researchers in the USA, Belgium, Iran, Scotland, Taiwan, and Turkey. Some of the recipients of GSOR seedstocks have acknowledged the source of these materials in publications that have resulted from their use (eg. 2014 Crop Science doi: 10.2135/cropsci2013.10.0656.)



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Non-technical Articles Published - none to report


Critical or Emerging Issues - none to report


The weather in July has been favorable for disease symptoms of rice blast to develop. The blast fungus attacks leaves, nodes, the collar, the neck, and panicles of rice plants. Neck blast is the most destructive disease frequently resulting in severe losses in yield and quality. Outbreaks of leaf blast have been reported in Texas, Mississippi and Arkansas this year.  Blast disease in the eastern rice belt of Texas was observed in 2012, 2013 and 2014; however, blast was observed in 2014 in the western rice belt of Texas for the first time in recent years.   Samples from Texas and Arkansas are being analyzed at DBNRRC to determine if there has been a change in the pathotypes causing disease this year.


Planted acres of rice in 2014 have dramatically increased in the Delta region (500k AR, 45k LA, 45k MS, 57k MO) while significant losses in acreage are seen in California (-71k) and Texas (current total acreage is 140k) largely driven by on-going droughts there.


For the first time, AR will be producing over half of the nation’s rice crop.  The projected surplus of rice (in the state and nation) puts increasing pressure to develop export markets.


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For more information, please contact Anna McClung, Research Leader,

Last Modified: 8/4/2014
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