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Master Naturalists, from left, John Marlin, Thom Uebele and Jana Uebele stand in the Florida Orchard Prairie, one of the demonstration gardens on campus that Marlin coordinates and maintains. An entomologist, Marlin is a research affiliate with the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center. Thom Uebele is a research programmer with the School of Life Sciences, and his wife, Jana, is an artist.

Master Naturalists needed to preserve Illinois' environment

Author: Sharita Forrest, Education Editor

Published Date:August 11, 2015

Adults who have a passion for the outdoors – and are interested in sharing that with others – are needed statewide as volunteers in the University of Illinois Extension Master Naturalist program.

Published Date: August 11, 2015


U. of I. postdoctoral researcher Katarzyna Glowacka, left, crop sciences professor Erik Sacks, visiting scholar Shailendra Sharma and their colleagues found that chill-tolerant sugarcane hybrids, called miscanes, also photosynthesize at lower temperatures.

Chill-tolerant hybrid sugarcane also grows at lower temperatures

Author: Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor

Published Date:July 28, 2015

U.S. farmers have long hoped to extend sugarcane’s growing range northward from the Gulf coast, substantially increasing the land available for sugar and biofuels. Several hybrid canes developed in the 1980s have proved hardy in cooler climes, surviving overwinter as far north as Booneville, Arkansas. But until now, no one had tested whether these “miscanes,” as they are called, actually photosynthesize, and thus continue to grow, when the thermometer dips.

Published Date: July 28, 2015


Scientists discovered that gut microbes, gene expression and enzyme activity all differ between rotation-resistant rootworms and their rotation-susceptible counterparts.

Study: Crop-rotation resistant rootworms have a lot going on in their guts

Author: Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor

Published Date:June 9, 2015

After decades of effort, scientists are finally figuring out how insects develop resistance to environmentally friendly farming practices – such as crop rotation – that are designed to kill them. The researchers say their insights will help develop more sustainable agricultural practices.

Published Date: June 9, 2015


Research geneticist Ram Singh crossed soybean with a related wild, perennial plant from Australia, introducing new genetic diversity to the soybean plant.

Plant breeder boosts soybean diversity, develops rust-resistant plant

Author: Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor

Published Date:May 12, 2015

It took decades of painstaking work, but research geneticist Ram Singh managed to cross a popular soybean variety (“Dwight” Glycine max) with a related wild perennial plant that grows like a weed in Australia, producing the first fertile soybean plants that are resistant to soybean rust, soybean cyst nematode and other pathogens of soy.

Published Date: May 12, 2015


Significant room for improvement exists in the environmental efficiency of both crop production and the control of pollution from nitrogen-fertilizer runoff, says a new study from Teresa Serra, a professor of agricultural and consumer economics at Illinois.

Paper: 'Considerable scope' for improvement in agricultural pollution

Author: Phil Ciciora, Business & Law Editor

Published Date:April 21, 2015

While different sustainability indicators have been developed at an aggregate level, less attention has been paid to farm-level sustainability measures. A study from a University of Illinois expert in production economics and efficiency analysis has developed technical and environmental efficiency indices for agriculture that can be used to assess sustainability at the farm level.

Published Date: April 21, 2015


Plant biology professor Stephen Long and colleagues report on advances and challenges in improving plant photosynthesis.

Report: Photosynthesis hack needed to feed the world by 2050

Author: Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor

Published Date:March 26, 2015

Using high-performance computing and genetic engineering to boost the photosynthetic efficiency of plants offers the best hope of increasing crop yields enough to feed a planet expected to have 9.5 billion people on it by 2050, researchers report in the journal Cell.

Published Date: March 26, 2015


Plant biology professor Ray Ming and his colleagues discovered that papaya cultivation 4,000 years ago likely led to the evolution of hermaphrodite plants, which are favored by growers today.

Cultivated papaya owes a lot to the ancient Maya, research suggests

Author: Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor

Published Date:March 17, 2015

A genetic study of papaya sex chromosomes reveals that the hermaphrodite version of the plant, which is of most use to growers, arose as a result of human selection, most likely by the ancient Maya some 4,000 years ago.

Published Date: March 17, 2015


Animated videos teach survival gardening. From left: Carl Burkybile, agricultural director of Healing Hands International, worked with entomology professor Barry Pittendrigh, animator Benjamin Blalock, Center for African Studies assistant director Julia Bello-Bravo and animator Anna Perez Sabater to develop the videos, which HHI distributes around the world.

Survival gardening education goes global via cellphones

Author: Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor

Published Date:March 16, 2015

Subsistence farmers in Africa, the Americas and the Caribbean are learning how to construct raised planting beds and install drip irrigation systems to boost their agricultural productivity, conserve water and perhaps even halt the rapid advance of desertification in some drought-prone regions.

Published Date: March 16, 2015


University of Illinois plant biology professor Katy Heath and her colleagues found that long-term nitrogen fertilizer use disrupts the mutually beneficial relationship between legumes and soil microbes.

Long-term nitrogen fertilizer use disrupts plant-microbe mutualisms

Author: Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor

Published Date:February 23, 2015

When exposed to nitrogen fertilizer over a period of years, nitrogen-fixing bacteria called rhizobia evolve to become less beneficial to legumes – the plants they normally serve, researchers report in a new study.

Published Date: February 23, 2015


Scientists have historically underestimated the potential productivity of the earths land plants, researchers report in a new study.

Study: Earth can sustain more terrestrial plant growth than previously thought

Author: Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor

Published Date:August 26, 2014

A new analysis suggests the planet can produce much more land-plant biomass – the total material in leaves, stems, roots, fruits, grains and other terrestrial plant parts – than previously thought.

Published Date: August 26, 2014


Drones  unmanned aerial vehicles  scout wheat on the universitys South Farms.

Drones give farmers eyes in the sky to check on crop progress

Author: Sharita Forrest

Published Date:June 4, 2014

This growing season, crop researchers at the University of Illinois are experimenting with the use of drones – unmanned aerial vehicles – on the university’s South Farms.

Published Date: June 4, 2014


Palmer amaranth grows very fast, germinates throughout the season, produces lots of seeds, can tolerate heat extremes and is very adaptable, researchers report.

Palmer amaranth threatens Midwest farm economy, researchers report

Author: Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor

Published Date:June 3, 2014

An invasive weed that has put some southern cotton farmers out of business is now finding its way across the Midwest – and many corn and soybean growers don’t yet appreciate the threat, University of Illinois researchers report.

Published Date: June 3, 2014


Gemechu Olana, a professor at Adama Science and Technology University, left, shares SAWBO animations with Ethiopian farmers.

Education by animation: Videos reaching tens of thousands of Ethiopian farmers

Author: Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor

Published Date:May 19, 2014

Teff, a nutritious grain, is a staple in Ethiopia. Its seeds are tiny – so small that some say its name was derived from the Amharic word for “lost.” Now, thanks to a creative educational initiative based at the University of Illinois, much less of the precious teff will be lost in Ethiopia.

Published Date: May 19, 2014


Plant biology professor Andrew Leakey and colleagues report that levels of zinc, iron and protein drop in some key crop plants when grown at elevated CO2 levels.

As CO2 levels rise, some crop nutrients will fall

Author: Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor

Published Date:May 7, 2014

Researchers have some bad news for future farmers and eaters: As carbon dioxide levels rise this century, some grains and legumes will become significantly less nutritious than they are today.

Published Date: May 7, 2014


Professors Praveen Kumar, right, and Stephen Long developed a computer modeling system to help plant scientists breed soybean crops that produce more and use less water.

Scientists say new computer model amounts to a lot more than a hill of beans

Author: Liz Ahlberg, Physical Sciences Editor

Published Date:April 3, 2014

Crops that produce more while using less water seem like a dream for a world with a burgeoning population and already strained food and water resources. This dream is coming closer to reality for University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign researchers who have developed a new computer model that can help plant scientists breed better soybean crops.

Published Date: April 3, 2014


Illinois Natural History Survey insect behaviorist Joseph Spencer, left, former crop sciences professor Manfredo Seufferheld, entomology professor Barry Pittendrigh and their colleagues found that different Western corn rootworm populations respond differently to RNAi technology.

Success of new bug-fighting approach may vary from field to field

Author: Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor

Published Date:March 10, 2014

A new technique to fight crop insect pests may affect different insect populations differently, researchers report. They analyzed RNA interference (RNAi), a method that uses genetic material to “silence” specific genes – in this case genes known to give insect pests an advantage. The researchers found that western corn rootworm beetles that are already resistant to crop rotation are in some cases also less vulnerable to RNAi.

Published Date: March 10, 2014


To keep pace with the ever-increasing demand for renewable energy, forest management policy in the U.S. must evolve to address environmental sustainability issues, says Jody Endres, a professor of bioenergy, environmental and natural resources law at Illinois.

U.S. forest management policy must evolve to meet bioenergy targets

Author: Phil Ciciora, Business & Law Editor

Published Date:June 13, 2013

To keep pace with the ever-increasing demand for renewable energy, forest management policy in the U.S. must evolve to address environmental sustainability issues, says Jody Endres, a professor of bioenergy, environmental and natural resources law at Illinois.

Published Date: June 13, 2013


Brenna Ellison, a professor of agricultural and consumer economics, says the combination of a symbol and a numeric calorie count on a menu is the most effective way to influence patrons to select lower-calorie items.

Symbols, such as traffic lights, on menus effective in educating diners

Author: Phil Ciciora, Business & Law Editor

Published Date:March 13, 2013

Brenna Ellison, a professor of agricultural and consumer economics, says the combination of a symbol and a numeric calorie count on a menu is the most effective way to influence patrons to select lower-calorie items.

Published Date: March 13, 2013


Food science expert: Genetically modified crops are overregulated

Author: Chelsey Coombs

Published Date:February 18, 2013

It has been almost 20 years since the first genetically modified foods showed up in produce aisles throughout the United States and the rest of the world, but controversy continues to surround the products and their regulation.

Published Date: February 18, 2013


University of Illinois entomology professor Barry Pittendrigh (back right) and his colleagues create animated educational videos as part of the Scientific Animations Without Borders project. Pictured: back row left: entomology research scientist Weilin Sun; front row from left: SAWBO co-founder Julia Bello-Bravo, who also is assistant director of the Illinois Strategic International Partnership; graduate students Julia Steele and Alice Vossbrinck; and research specialist Susan Balfe.

Agricultural, health education goes global via cellphone animations

Author: Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor

Published Date:December 10, 2012

Agricultural researchers and health educators are using cellphone technology to help those in the developing world address some of the most challenging issues they face. The initiative, Scientific Animations Without Borders (SAWBO), delivers educational materials in the form of narrated, animated videos to a global audience.

Published Date: December 10, 2012


In a time of record-high food insecurity rates in the U.S., cutting the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (the former Food Stamp Program) is the wrong approach to fighting hunger, says Craig Gundersen, a professor of agricultural and consumer economics at Illinois.

Expert: With food insecurity rising in U.S., SNAP benefits should be left alone

Author: Phil Ciciora, Business & Law Editor

Published Date:September 12, 2012

In a time of record-high food insecurity rates in the U.S., cutting the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (the former Food Stamp Program) is the wrong approach to fighting hunger, says Craig Gundersen, a professor of agricultural and consumer economics at Illinois.

Published Date: September 12, 2012


Some Western corn rootworms, like this gravid (egg-carrying) female, survive on soybean leaves long enough to lay their eggs in soybean fields. When their eggs hatch, the larvae feed on corn roots when the same fields are planted in corn the following year.

Team discovers how western corn rootworm resists crop rotation

Author: Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor

Published Date:July 19, 2012

A new study answers a question that has baffled researchers for more than 15 years: How does the western corn rootworm an insect that thrives on corn but dies on soybeans persist in fields that alternate between corn and soybeans? The answer, researchers say, has to do with enzyme production in the rootworm gut.

Published Date: July 19, 2012


University of Illinois emeritus professor of biochemistry Robert Switzers new memoir traces the 75-year history of his familys dairy farm in northwestern Illinois.

Memoir tracks the life, decline and death of an Illinois family farm

Author: Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor

Published Date:May 30, 2012

There is no sentimentality in Robert Switzers modestly titled new book, A Family Farm: Life on an Illinois Dairy Farm. Switzer, an emeritus professor of biochemistry at the University of Illinois, begins with a quote (from Victor Davis Hansons own book on farming) that the American yeoman farmer is doomed, and describes the internal and external forces that led to the decline and demise of his familys farm in northwest Illinois.

Published Date: May 30, 2012


Illinois researchers  from left, Jong-Shi Pang, Yun Ba and Yanfeng Ouyang  developed models for optimizing and evaluating the biofuel feedstock supply chain, addressing layers of competition not only between the biofuel market and the food market, but also among individual farmers.

Study: Optimizing biofuel supply chain is a competitive game

Author: Liz Ahlberg, Physical Sciences Editor

Published Date:April 18, 2012

According to new models created by University of Illinois researchers, most studies of the" food versus fuel" debate so far have overlooked a key factor: selfish and possibly competing interests of the biofuel industry and individual farmers, who independently seek the most profit from their crops.

Published Date: April 18, 2012


A new study co-written by Madhu Khanna, a professor of agricultural and consumer economics at Illinois, and Xiaoguang Chen, of the U. of I. Energy Biosciences Institute, quantifies the role that factors such as economies of scale and learning-by-doing played in reducing the processing costs of corn ethanol.

Policies, learning-by-doing played important role in reducing ethanol costs

Author: Phil Ciciora, Business & Law Editor

Published Date:April 12, 2012

A new study co-authored by Madhu Khanna, a professor of agricultural and consumer economics at Illinois, and Xiaoguang Chen, of the U. of I. Energy Biosciences Institute, quantifies the role that factors such as economies of scale and learning-by-doing played in reducing the processing costs of corn ethanol.

Published Date: April 12, 2012


University of Illinois crops sciences and Institute for Genomic Biology professor Stephen Long is leading the effort to engineer new crops to ramp up production of biodiesel and plant-based jet fuels.

Team aims to make sugarcane, sorghum into oil-producing crops

Author: Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor

Published Date:March 1, 2012

With the support of a $3.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, researchers will take the first steps toward engineering two new oil-rich crops.

Published Date: March 1, 2012


These Bt corn plants in LaSalle County, Illinois, have fallen over (lodged) as a result of rootworm damage. Like other Bt plants that are becoming susceptible to rootworm damage in Iowa, these corn plants contain the Cry3Bb1 Bt protein in a field planted year after year in corn expressing the same Bt protein.

Researcher tracks agricultural overuse of bug-killing technology

Author: Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor

Published Date:February 29, 2012

High corn prices are leading many growers to plant corn every year and to overuse pesticides and other bug-killing technology to maximize yields, researchers report in a new study.

Published Date: February 29, 2012


Proximity to human settlements or tourist sites was the best predictor of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in Galpagos reptiles. Land iguanas such as this lizard on Isla Fernandina live in remote locations with no human contact and are unlikely to carry resistance genes.

Patterns of antibiotic-resistant bacteria seen in Galpagos reptiles

Author: Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor

Published Date:January 23, 2012

Land and marine iguanas and giant tortoises living close to human settlements or tourist sites in the Galpagos Islands were more likely to harbor antibiotic-resistant bacteria than those living in more remote or protected sites on the islands, researchers report in a new study.

Published Date: January 23, 2012


Among the many variables the new computer model takes into account, harvest timing and technology is key. Here a traditional baler is used to harvest Miscanthus x giganteus, a tall perennial grass that can be harvested in late fall or winter.

From field to biorefinery: Computer model optimizes biofuel operations

Author: Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor

Published Date:January 17, 2012

Research into biofuel crops such as switchgrass and Miscanthus has focused mainly on how to grow these crops and convert them into fuels. But many steps lead from the farm to the biorefinery, and each could help or hinder the growth of this new industry. A new computer model developed at the University of Illinois can simplify this transition, researchers say.

Published Date: January 17, 2012


University of Illinois crop sciences and Institute for Genomic Biology professor Gustavo Caetano-Anolls and his colleagues identified an oxygen-generating enzyme that likely was a key contributor to the rise of molecular oxygen on Earth.

Researchers identify molecular 'culprit' in rise of planetary oxygen

Author: Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor

Published Date:January 10, 2012

A turning point in the history of life occurred 2 billion to 3 billion years ago with the unprecedented appearance and dramatic rise of molecular oxygen. Now researchers report they have identified an enzyme that was the first or among the first to generate molecular oxygen on Earth.

Published Date: January 10, 2012


Pest patrol Kelly Estes, state survey coordinator at the Illinois Cooperative Agricultural Pest Survey, and Michael Gray, a professor of crop sciences, are urging Illinois farmers to be especially vigilant about  scouting their fields for brown marmorated stink bugs.

Stink bugs a threat to farmers, smelly guests for homeowners

Author: Sharita Forrest, News Editor

Published Date:August 23, 2011

The brown marmorated stink bug scientific name Halyomorpha halys has been found in four Illinois counties and could be a major threat to fruit, vegetable and agronomic crops if it proliferates.

Published Date: August 23, 2011


University of Illinois plant biology and Energy Biosciences Institute professor Evan DeLucia, EBI feedstock analyst Sarah Davis and their colleagues found that replacing the least productive corn acres with miscanthus would boost both corn and biofuel production.

SWITCH FROM CORN TO GRASS WOULD RAISE ETHANOL OUTPUT, CUT EMISSIONS

Author: Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor

Published Date:July 12, 2011

Growing perennial grasses on the least productive farmland now used for corn ethanol production in the U.S. would result in higher overall corn yields, more ethanol output per acre and better groundwater quality, researchers report in a new study. The switch would also slash emissions of two potent greenhouse gases: carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide.

Published Date: July 12, 2011


Growing numbers of corn farmers ignoring refuge requirement

Author: Sharita Forrest, News Editor

Published Date:May 12, 2011

More than 90 percent of Illinois corn producers polled at the University of Illinois Extension Corn and Soybean Classic meetings indicated that they planned to plant corn that was genetically modified with the insect-killing protein Bacillus thuringiensis this spring. Commercially available since 1996, Bt corn is resistant to European corn borers, western corn rootworm and other crop-destroying insects.

Published Date: May 12, 2011


Row crops, field tiles causing water quality problems

Author: Sharita Forrest, News Editor

Published Date:April 28, 2011

In addition to causing widespread flooding, the rains drenching the Midwest this spring may exacerbate another environmental problem phosphorus and nitrate pollution in the water supply that is causing a growing hypoxic zone in the Gulf of Mexico, presenting a danger to marine life and wildlife habitats, according to recent studies by a team of scientists from the University of Illinois and Cornell University.

Published Date: April 28, 2011


Study predicts large regional changes in farmland area

Author: Liz Ahlberg, Physical Sciences Editor

Published Date:March 23, 2011

The effects of climate change and population growth on agricultural land area vary from region to region, according to a new study by University of Illinois researchers.

Published Date: March 23, 2011


Team delivers development aid via cell phone animations

Author: Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor

Published Date:February 28, 2011

A team of extension educators and faculty at the University of Illinois produce animated sustainable development educational videos that people around the world can watch at home, over and over again, on their cell phones.

Published Date: February 28, 2011


Curbing speculation could destabilize commodity prices

Author: Jan Dennis, Business & Law Editor

Published Date:June 24, 2010

Price spikes for gasoline, grain and other commodities could be magnified if lawmakers curb speculative trading in futures markets, according to a new study released today in conjunction with this weekends G20 summit.

Published Date: June 24, 2010


From llama herders to chai wallas: New website will engage the world

Author: Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor

Published Date:May 19, 2010

African cowpea farmers, Indian street vendors, Peruvian llama farmers and many others will benefit from a new interactive, peer-reviewed information-sharing website now under construction at the University of Illinois.

Published Date: May 19, 2010


Miscanthus, a biofuels crop, can host western corn rootworm

Author: Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor

Published Date:January 5, 2010

The western corn rootworm beetle, a pest that feasts on corn roots and corn silk and costs growers more than $1 billion annually in the U.S., also can survive on the perennial grass Miscanthus x giganteus, a potential biofuels crop that would likely be grown alongside corn, researchers report.

Published Date: January 5, 2010


Grain prices rebound from flu-linked declines, economist says

Author: Jan Dennis, Business & Law Editor

Published Date:May 1, 2009

A wet spring in the Corn Belt and scaled-back harvest estimates in South America have helped revive grain prices that slid in the wake of a widespread influenza outbreak in the U.S. and Mexico, a University of Illinois economist says.

Published Date: May 1, 2009


Ethanol plants no panacea for local economies, study finds

Author: Jan Dennis, Business & Law Editor

Published Date:February 16, 2009

Just over a year ago, the U.S. ethanol industry was still in overdrive, fueling a wave of new factories to keep pace with surging demand for the corn-based gasoline additive. But the boom has since stalled amid a deep economic downturn that has stifled demand, one of many threats to the fledgling industry that were forecast in a 2007 study by two University of Illinois researchers.

Published Date: February 16, 2009


High CO2 boosts plant respiration, potentially affecting climate and crops

Author: Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor

Published Date:February 9, 2009

The leaves of soybeans grown at the elevated carbon dioxide levels predicted for the year 2050 respire more than those grown under current atmospheric conditions, researchers report, a finding that will help fine-tune climate models.

Published Date: February 9, 2009


Replacing corn with perennial grasses improves carbon footprint of biofuels

Author: Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor

Published Date:December 2, 2008

Converting forests or fields to biofuel crops can increase or decrease greenhouse gas emissions, depending on where – and which – biofuel crops are used, University of Illinois researchers report this month.

Published Date: December 2, 2008


Giant grass offers clues to growing corn in cooler climes, researchers report

Author: Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor

Published Date:September 15, 2008

A giant perennial grass used as a biofuels source has a much longer growing season than corn, and researchers think they’ve found the secret of its success. Their findings offer a promising avenue for developing cold-tolerant corn, an advance that would significantly boost per-acre yields.

Published Date: September 15, 2008


Miscanthus can meet U.S. biofuels goal using less land than corn or switchgrass

Author: Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor

Published Date:July 30, 2008

In the largest field trial of its kind in the United States, researchers have determined that the giant perennial grass Miscanthus x giganteus outperforms current biofuels sources – by a lot. Using Miscanthus as a feedstock for ethanol production in the U.S. could significantly reduce the acreage dedicated to biofuels while meeting government biofuels production goals, the researchers report.

Published Date: July 30, 2008


Study predicts crop-production costs will jump dramatically in 2009

Author: Jan Dennis, Business & Law Editor

Published Date:July 23, 2008

Soaring energy prices will yield sharp increases for corn and soybean production next year, cutting into farmers’ profits and stretching already high food costs, according to a new University of Illinois study.

Published Date: July 23, 2008


Farmers who plant - or replant - after June 20 may see yields shrink by half

Author: Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor

Published Date:June 10, 2008

A costly deadline looms for many growers in the Midwest, as every day of waiting for the weather to cooperate to plant corn and soybeans reduces potential yields. Research indicates that Illinois growers who plant corn or soybeans near the end of June can expect a 50 percent reduction in crop yield, according to a University of Illinois agriculture expert.

Published Date: June 10, 2008


Researchers successfully simulate photosynthesis and design a better leaf

Author: Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor

Published Date:November 9, 2007

University of Illinois researchers have built a better plant, one that produces more leaves and fruit without needing extra fertilizer. The researchers accomplished the feat using a computer model that mimics the process of evolution. Theirs is the first model to simulate every step of the photosynthetic process.

Published Date: November 9, 2007


Team tracks antibiotic resistance from swine farms to groundwater

Author: Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor

Published Date:August 21, 2007

The routine use of antibiotics in swine production can have unintended consequences, with antibiotic resistance genes sometimes leaking from waste lagoons into groundwater.

Published Date: August 21, 2007


Do higher corn prices mean less adherence to ecological principles?

Author: Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor

Published Date:August 21, 2007

Expectations of higher corn prices are leading some farmers to neglect or ignore integrated pest management strategies, and their behavior could undermine the very technologies that sustain them, University of Illinois researchers report today at the American Chemical Society meeting in Boston.

Published Date: August 21, 2007


Soy estrogens and breast cancer: Researcher offers overview

Author: Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor

Published Date:May 16, 2007

Are soy products healthy additions to a person's diet, safe alternatives to hormone-replacement therapy or cancer-causing agents? The answer, according to University of Illinois food science and human nutrition professor William Helferich, is, "It depends."

Published Date: May 16, 2007


Initiative will put Illinois at forefront of farm bioenergy production

Author: Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor

Published Date:February 1, 2007

A $500 million research program announced today by the energy company BP will bring farm bioenergy production to Illinois on a grand scale, say researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Illinois will join the University of California at Berkeley and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in forming the new Energy Biosciences Institute, with UC Berkeley taking the lead.

Published Date: February 1, 2007


Research grant will help assessment of prairie seed banks

Author: Brenda Molano-Flores, Illinois Natural History Survey

Published Date:January 23, 2007

The Illinois Natural History Survey has received a grant from the Conservation 2000 Program to assess seed banks at the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie in Will County.

Published Date: January 23, 2007


Environmental effects of biofuels crops must be weighed, researchers say

Author: Charles Warwick, Illinois Natural History Survey

Published Date:September 22, 2006

Biofuels advocates should not ignore the potential ecological side effects of crops being developed to produce such fuels, a researcher at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign says in an article being published today in Science.

Published Date: September 22, 2006


Food-crop yields in future greenhouse-gas conditions lower than expected

Author: James Kloeppel, Science Editor

Published Date:June 29, 2006

Open-air field trials involving five major food crops grown under carbon-dioxide levels projected for the future are harvesting dramatically less bounty than those raised in earlier greenhouse and other enclosed test conditions - and scientists warn that global food supplies could be at risk without changes in production strategies.

Published Date: June 29, 2006


Unique soybean lines hold promise for producing allergy-free soybeans

Author: Jim Barlow, Life Sciences Editor

Published Date:April 4, 2006

Researchers have isolated two Chinese soybean lines that grow without the primary protein linked to soy allergies in children and adults. The two lines already are adapted to Illinois-like conditions and will be given away to breeders seeking to produce new varieties of allergy-free soybeans without genetic engineering.

Published Date: April 4, 2006


U. of I. pig to make history - as source of first complete swine genome

Author: Jim Barlow, Life Sciences Editor

Published Date:January 13, 2006

A pig used for research at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has a home in history. Its DNA will provide the first sequence of the swine genome to be completed with the help of a two-year $10 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced today by Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns.

Published Date: January 13, 2006


Fast-growing kudzu making inroads in Illinois, authorities warn

Author: Molly McElroy, News Bureau

Published Date:October 20, 2005

To all Illinois residents: Be on the lookout for kudzu. This high-climbing, fast-growing weed, which is illegal to buy, grow and plant in Illinois, smothers existing vegetation and has been spotted in more than 30 Illinois counties.

Published Date: October 20, 2005


Hybrid grass may prove to be valuable fuel source

Author: Molly McElroy, News Bureau

Published Date:September 27, 2005

Giant Miscanthus (Miscanthus x giganteus), a hybrid grass that can grow 13 feet high, may be a valuable renewable fuel source for the future, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign say.

Published Date: September 27, 2005


Nutritious frozen foods can play role in weight-loss programs

Author: Molly McElroy, News Bureau

Published Date:June 8, 2005

Size matters when it comes to meal portions in weight-loss diets, according to researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. And consuming convenient, nutritious frozen dinners may be a way to control portion size.

Published Date: June 8, 2005


Information on three new agricultural pests enhances web tool for farmers

Author: Eva Kingston, State Water Survey

Published Date:April 12, 2005

Three more pests - fruit tree leafroller, lilac borer and western bean cutworm - have been added this spring to the Illinois State Water Survey's Water and Atmospheric Resources Monitoring program, a Web-based tool that provides helpful information for the state's farmers.

Published Date: April 12, 2005


Arsenic removal from drinking water is focus of new projects

Author: Eva Kingston, State Water Survey

Published Date:April 6, 2005

More stringent federal standards for acceptable levels of arsenic in public drinking water go into effect next year, a prospect that has resulted in four new research projects on arsenic.

Published Date: April 6, 2005


Components in grapes inhibit enzyme key to proliferation of cancer cells

Author: Jim Barlow, Life Sciences Editor

Published Date:March 29, 2005

Components in grapes, including some newly identified ones, work together to dramatically inhibit an enzyme crucial to the proliferation of cancer cells, say scientists at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Published Date: March 29, 2005


If you fill it, they will slurp -- and slurp, and slurp and slurp ...

Author: Mark Reutter, Business and Law Editor

Published Date:March 24, 2005

The eye is greater than the gut.

Published Date: March 24, 2005


Chemical analysis of mushrooms shows their nutritional benefits

Author: Jim Barlow, Life Sciences Editor

Published Date:February 14, 2005

An analysis of previously uncharted chemical contents, mostly carbohydrates, in U.S.-consumed mushrooms shows that these fruity edible bodies of fungi could be tailored into dietary plans to help fill various nutritional needs.

Published Date: February 14, 2005


Abundance of protein in infected swine may result in reduced muscle mass

Author: Jim Barlow, Life Sciences Editor

Published Date:November 17, 2004

A study looking at chronic infectious respiratory diseases that affect most swine during their critical growing stage has shed new light on the reasons for restricted weight gain and reduced muscle mass.

Published Date: November 17, 2004


Safety of isoflavones in dietary supplements targeted by Illinois initiative

Author: Jim Barlow, Life Sciences Editor

Published Date:September 29, 2004

A multidisciplinary team of scientists at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is embarking on a comprehensive five-year study of the effects of soy isoflavones found in dietary supplements on various body tissues.

Published Date: September 29, 2004


Byproduct of water-disinfection process found to be highly toxic

Author: Jim Barlow, Life Sciences Editor

Published Date:September 14, 2004

A recently discovered disinfection byproduct (DBP) found in U.S. drinking water treated with chloramines is the most toxic ever found, says a scientist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign who tested samples on mammalian cells.

Published Date: September 14, 2004


New comprehensive textbook on companion animals fills need

Author: Jim Barlow, Life Sciences Editor

Published Date:August 12, 2004

Cats, 77 million. Dogs, 65 million. Such are the estimated totals, as of 2002, of these popular companion animals living with people in the United States. Two-thirds of U.S. farms have dogs, but 90 percent of the canines are owned by city dwellers. Then there are the various birds, guinea pigs, hamsters, hedgehogs, lizards, mice, rabbits and turtles, to name only a few, that share space in human homes.

Published Date: August 12, 2004


Sediment samples suggest how plants would fare in hotter, drier future

Author: Jim Barlow, Life Sciences Editor

Published Date:January 13, 2004

Sediment samples dating back thousands of years and taken from under the deep water of West Olaf Lake in Minnesota have revealed an unexpected climate indicator that can be factored into future projections.

Published Date: January 13, 2004


Antibiotic use on swine farms increases efficiency, profits

Author: Jim Barlow, Life Sciences Editor

Published Date:December 16, 2003

Antibiotics used on swine farms may stir controversy about their potential role in the rise of anti-bacterial resistance, but a new study says their use means significant production efficiency and a 9 percent boost in pork producer profits.

Published Date: December 16, 2003


Increasing carbon dioxide relieves drought stress in corn, researchers say

Author: Jim Barlow, Life Sciences Editor

Published Date:October 7, 2003

Although rising ozone levels already reduce soybean yields, a study of the crop grown in projected 2030 levels has harvested more troubling results - a 20 percent yield loss - say scientists at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Published Date: October 7, 2003


Increasing carbon dioxide relieves drought stress in corn, researchers say

Author: Jim Barlow, Life Sciences Editor

Published Date:July 25, 2003

Increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will benefit photosynthesis in U.S. corn crops in the future by relieving drought stress, say researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Published Date: July 25, 2003


Consumers endorse researchers' enhancements to lower-quality beef

Author: Jim Barlow, Life Sciences Editor

Published Date:June 19, 2003

When it comes to beef, shoppers want low prices, little visible fat and good color and cuts at the store. At the table, though, they want tenderness, flavor and juiciness. A new study based on taste testing of 103 consumers also says that beef enhanced with a sodium and phosphate solution passes the dinner-table quality test.

Published Date: June 19, 2003


Crop scientist targeting fungus threatening pumpkins, peppers

Author: Jim Barlow, Life Sciences Editor

Published Date:August 6, 2002

New strategies emerging from research at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are saving many of the state's vegetable crops from a fungus that nearly put an end to pumpkin and pepper production.

Published Date: August 6, 2002


Soy cookbook developed to help Americans eat more soy

Author: Jim Barlow, Life Sciences Editor

Published Date:May 9, 2002

Food is not medicine, Barbara Klein says, but soy is nutritious and, by taking a whole-food approach, it can enhance the American diet. Helping food producers create quality soy products, developing marketing programs and educating the public about the benefits of soy make up the mission of the Illinois Center for Soy Foods.

Published Date: May 9, 2002


Isoflavone genistein may negate effect of common breast cancer drug

Author: Jim Barlow, Life Sciences Editor

Published Date:April 30, 2002

Isoflavone-enhanced dietary supplements containing genistein may negate the tumor-fighting effects of tamoxifen, a commonly prescribed medication for women battling estrogen-dependent breast cancer, according to new findings appearing in the May 1 issue of the journal Cancer Research.

Published Date: April 30, 2002


Insect bites on plants reduce photosynthesis, imaging device shows

Author: Jim Barlow, Life Sciences Editor

Published Date:January 17, 2002

When insects feed on plants, they get nourishment and the plant gets damaged. The amount of damage has taken on new light, thanks to a new photosynthesis-measuring device that illuminates and photographs never-before-seen injury extending far beyond an insect's bite.

Published Date: January 17, 2002


Scientists developing strategies for upcoming phosphorus mandates

Author: Jim Barlow, Life Sciences Editor

Published Date:December 1, 2001

A reality of Illinois agriculture is phosphorus, a consequence of keeping soils fertile to produce food, feed and fiber. University of Illinois researchers say that around the state, levels of soil-test phosphorus range from a low five pounds per acre to an excessively high 1,000 pounds per acre. High levels often are associated with long-term manure or sewage sludge applications.

Published Date: December 1, 2001


Scientist finds best way to measure soil fertility is - in a Mason jar

Author: Jim Barlow, Life Sciences Editor

Published Date:December 1, 2001

In a world of technological advancements, a simple wide-mouthed, one-pint Mason jar is the foundation of a diagnostic tool that may revolutionize how farmers determine the nitrogen needs of their cornfields.

Published Date: December 1, 2001


Efficient fertilizer use could benefit river without hurting crop yields

Author: Jim Barlow, Life Sciences Editor

Published Date:November 7, 2001

A computational study on nitrogen inputs to the Mississippi River Basin from the 1950s to the 1990s suggests that better use of the fertilizer - such as not over-applying it - could substantially reduce the amount of nitrates flowing down river without compromising crop yields.

Published Date: November 7, 2001


Genetically modified corn lowered growth rate of butterfly larvae

Author: Jim Barlow, Life Sciences Editor

Published Date:October 1, 2001

Pollen from a Bt corn variety carrying a since-phased-out genetically inserted pesticide known as event 176 dramatically reduced growth rates among black swallowtail caterpillars in University of Illinois field tests, researchers report. Because of rainfall during the test period, researchers noted that the results are conservative.

Published Date: October 1, 2001


Moving gene in plant results in increased production of amino acid

Author: Jim Barlow, Life Sciences Editor

Published Date:October 1, 2001

By placing a nuclear gene in another location - its original home in a plant - researchers have successfully enhanced the production of an essential amino acid.

Published Date: October 1, 2001


'New agrarianism' reflects renewed interest in land stewardship

Author: Mark Reutter, Business Editor

Published Date:September 1, 2001

People are reinvigorating their ties to the land both practically and in the ways they think about themselves and their communities, a University of Illinois law professor argues in a forthcoming book.

Published Date: September 1, 2001


Earlier weaning, high-energy diet produce higher quality beef

Author: Jim Barlow, Life Sciences Editor

Published Date:August 1, 2001

Cattle weaned early and put immediately on high-energy finishing diets produce more high-quality beef with less waste fat than traditionally later-weaned-and-finished cattle, according to a series of research projects at the University of Illinois.

Published Date: August 1, 2001


Nation's oldest research plots to be a focal point of Agronomy Day

Author: Jim Barlow, Life Sciences Editor and Rob Wynstra, Extension Communication Specialist

Published Date:August 1, 2001

Visitors at this year's Agronomy Day will have a chance to see the original heart of agricultural research at the University of Illinois. A celebration honoring the 125th anniversary of the Morrow Plots - the nation's oldest continuously used agricultural research area - will take place at mid-day on Aug. 23.

Published Date: August 1, 2001


Pioneering experiments testing effects of greenhouse gases on crops

Author: Jim Barlow, Life Sciences Editor

Published Date:July 1, 2001

Portions of 40 acres of University of Illinois farmland this summer are sprouting soybeans grown in the presence of carbon dioxide levels forecast for the year 2050. Next summer, elevated levels of ozone will join the mix in a first-of-its-kind experiment called SoyFACE.

Published Date: July 1, 2001


Antibiotic-resistant genes traced from farms to groundwater

Author: Jim Barlow, Life Sciences Editor

Published Date:May 1, 2001

Genes resistant to tetracycline have been found in groundwater as far as a sixth of a mile downstream from two swine facilities that use antibiotics as growth promoters.

Published Date: May 1, 2001


Remote-sensing lab aims to foster growth of precision farming

Author: Jim Barlow, Life Sciences Editor

Published Date:May 1, 2001

It is 5 a.m. A Midwest farmer sips coffee in front of a computer. Up-to-the-minute satellite images show a weed problem in a field on the northwest corner of the farm. At 6:30 a.m., the farmer drives to the exact location to apply a precise amount of herbicide.

Published Date: May 1, 2001


African plant can be grown in Illinois, shows promise as wood substitute

Author: Jim Barlow, Life Sciences Editor

Published Date:March 1, 2001

Samples of potential wall-sheathing, sub flooring, tiles and interior car panels are seen throughout Poo Chow's Wood Engineering laboratory at the University of Illinois. The samples, however, are not made of traditional wood fiber; they contain varying blends of plastic (both virgin and recycled) combined with kenaf (pronounced kuh-NAFF), cornstalks or corncobs.

Published Date: March 1, 2001


Researchers isolate proteins that allow sperm to penetrate egg

Author: Jim Barlow, Life Sciences Editor

Published Date:March 1, 2001

A team of proteins vital to fertility because of their ability to send signals that allow sperm to pass through an egg membrane has been isolated by researchers at two universities.

Published Date: March 1, 2001


'Green industry' outstripping traditional crops in total sales

Author: Jim Barlow, Life Sciences Editor and Gary Beaumont, Extension Communications Specialist

Published Date:February 1, 2001

With about $2.9 billion in sales, the "green industry" in Illinois has blossomed, surprisingly outdoing traditional agricultural front-runners corn and soybeans and even the combined production of beef and pork, University of Illinois researchers say.

Published Date: February 1, 2001


Legumes found to contain starch carrying a fiber-like punch

Author: Jim Barlow, Life Sciences Editor

Published Date:February 1, 2001

Legumes often fall far below popular grains and moisture-laden fruits and vegetables on the list of foods Americans eat to try to meet the American Dietetic Association-recommended 25 to 35 grams of dietary fiber per day.

Published Date: February 1, 2001


Farmers tend to work long past typical retirement age, survey finds

Author: Jim Barlow, Life Sciences Editor

Published Date:September 1, 2000

Did you hear the one about the retired farmer? If you did, you probably didn't hear it in Illinois.

Published Date: September 1, 2000


Scientists develop better way to detect presence of soybean fungus

Author: Jim Barlow, Life Sciences Editor

Published Date:September 1, 2000

A new molecular diagnostic method is letting University of Illinois crop scientists send a message to various fungi that inhabit soybean plants and fields, including the fungus that causes soybean sudden death syndrome (SDS): We know where you are and what you are.

Published Date: September 1, 2000


To avert crisis, Illinois should enact law regulating water withdrawal

Author: Mark Reutter, Business Editor

Published Date:August 1, 2000

Whether or not a drought materializes this summer, Illinois needs a water law to regulate the withdrawal of water from streams before there is a crisis leading to rationing and poor water quality, a University of Illinois engineer recommends. "At present, there is no surface water withdrawal law," says Wayland Eheart, a professor of civil engineering.

Published Date: August 1, 2000


Vaccine put into tomatoes shows promise fighting virus in lab tests

Author: Jim Barlow, Life Sciences Editor

Published Date:August 1, 2000

A respiratory virus that strikes hardest at young children and the elderly in nursing homes has lost a preliminary bout with a two-fisted enemy - genetically modified cherry tomatoes containing an edible vaccine.The match took place in lab tests at the University of Illinois.

Published Date: August 1, 2000


Study cultivates common ground between scientists and farmers

Author: James Kloeppel, Physical Sciences Editor

Published Date:July 1, 2000

Farmers who perceive scientists as "insensitive outsiders" may ignore their expertise and persist in agricultural and environmental practices that stand in the way of effective, community-based watershed management, says a team of researchers at the University of Illinois.

Published Date: July 1, 2000


Communities should act now to conserve water, experts urge

Author: Jim Barlow, Life Sciences Editor

Published Date:June 1, 2000

On the surface, the grass is green and crops are in good shape, but state water experts in late May urged community leaders in Central and Southwestern Illinois to realize that the truth lies 6 inches below the surface.

Published Date: June 1, 2000


New variety of soybean suitable for home growing, home eating

Author: Jim Barlow, Life Sciences Editor

Published Date:June 1, 2000

Honey, pass me the soybeans, please. Putting soy on the table is about to get easier. As early as this fall, some family gardeners will have homegrown soybeans available as finger foods or additions to salads, soups and stir-fry meals.

Published Date: June 1, 2000


Wet-milling process potentially could expand ethanol, feed industries

Author: Jim Barlow, Life Sciences Editor

Published Date:May 1, 2000

An experimental filtering system being tested in the corn wet-milling process is showing promise. The desired payoff, in the form of added value to corn gluten meal, could be more incentive to produce ethanol and an expanded animal-feed industry. In turn, a University of Illinois researcher says, farmers could see a higher demand for corn.

Published Date: May 1, 2000