- Posted By: Jeannette E. Warnert
- Written by: Diane Nelson, (530) 752-1969, email@example.com
The stripe rust disease of wheat caused by the highly specialized fungal pathogen Puccinia striiformis f. sp. tritici has been responsible for recurrent episodes of large yield losses and economic hardship among grain-based agricultural societies for centuries. Current epidemics of new aggressive races of Puccinia striiformis that appear after the year 2000 pose significant threats to food security worldwide and, in particular, in developing countries in Africa and central Asia. In spite of its economic importance, the Puccinia striiformis genomic sequence is not currently available.
In order to get access to the genes of this pathogen, a team of researchers – including Professor Jorge Dubcovsky (also a Howard Hughes Medical Institute researcher) and Professor Richard Michelmore, director of the UC Davis Genome Center, Project Scientist Dario Cantu and Manjula Govindarajulu, a postdoctoral researcher in Michelmore’s lab - used cutting-edge technology to rapidly sequence a large portion of the genome of one of the Puccinia striiformis more virulent and aggressive races. They assembled long stretches of the Puccinia striiformis genome and established a preliminary automatic annotation of its genes, with a special focus on those likely to be involved in pathogenicity.
This information is available in the open-access article published by the Public Library of Science and made publically available through the National Center of Biotechnology information and a dedicated web page.
“This shotgun sequence assembly does not substitute for the need of a complete and annotated Puccinia striiformis genome, but it provides immediate access to a large proportion, more than about 88 percent, of the genes from this pathogen,” said Cantu. “This public information has the potential to accelerate a new wave of studies to determine the mechanisms used by this pathogen to infect wheat, and hopefully to reduce current yield loses caused by this pathogen.”
These researchers, in collaboration with others at the John Innes Institute in the UK, are currently sequencing new and old races of Puccinia striiformis to investigate their differences in virulence and aggressiveness.
This project was supported in part by funds provided through a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the National Research Initiative Competitive Grants from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
- Posted By: Jeannette E. Warnert
- Written by: Kathy Keatley Garvey, (530) 754-6894, firstname.lastname@example.org
A petition spearheaded by Thorp and the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation to list Franklin’s bumble bee under the National Endangered Species Act has moved to the next step in the process, the 12-month review period. This may lead to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) listing it as “endangered” and providing protective status.
The bad news: Thorp hasn’t seen Franklin’s bumble bee since 2006.
“I am still hopeful that Franklin’s bumble bee is still out there somewhere,” said Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology. “Over the last 13 years I have watched the populations of this bumble bee decline precipitously. My hope is this species can recover before it is too late."
Thorp researches the declining population of Franklin’s bumble bee, Bombus franklini (Frison), found only in a narrow range of southern Oregon and northern California. Its range, a 13,300-square-mile area confined to Siskiyou and Trinity counties in California; and Jackson, Douglas and Josephine counties in Oregon, is thought to be the smallest of any other bumble bee in North America and the world.
Thorp’s surveys, conducted since 1998 clearly show the declining population. Sightings decreased from 94 in 1998 to 20 in 1999 to 9 in 2000 to one in 2001. Sightings increased slightly to 20 in 2002, but dropped to three in 2003. Thorp saw none in 2004 and 2005; one in 2006; and none since.
“My experience with the Western bumble bee (B. occidentalis) indicates that populations can remain ‘under the radar’ for long periods of time when their numbers are low,” he said. Thorp did not see the Western bumble bee between 2002-2008, but now, although sightings are rare, they are “consistently encountered.”
This year Thorp surveyed the bumble bee's historic sites in southern Oregon and northern California on five separate trips of several days each: two in June and one each in July, August and September. "Flowering and bumble bee phenology were pushed back about a month this year due to our cold wet spring," he said. " I managed to see and photograph workers of B. occidentalis at two sites on my August trip. I had hoped to see males and even a Franklin’s on my last visit in September, but alas no luck."
"However, flowering was more like mid-August and lots of other species of worker bumble bees were still foraging," he noted. "Males and new queens were also on the wing. The new queens will mate and hibernate to emerge and produce new colonies next year. The old queens and the rest of this year's colony members will die out soon, as this season winds to a close."
Thorp and the Xerces Society petitioned USFWS on June 23, 2010 for endangered status for the bumble bee. Today (Sept. 13) USFWS announced “Based on our review, we find that the petition presents substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that listing this species may be warranted. Therefore, with publication of this notice we are initiating a review of the status of the species to determine if listing the Franklin’s bumble bee is warranted that Franklin's bumble bee may warrant protection under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.”
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the world’s oldest and largest global environmental network, named Franklin’s bumble bee “Species of the Day” on Oct. 21, 2010. IUCN placed it on the “Red List of Threatened Species” and classified it as “critically endangered” and in “imminent danger of extinction.”
Franklin's bumble bee, mostly black, has distinctive yellow markings on the front of its thorax and top of its head, Thorp said. It has a solid black abdomen with just a touch of white at the tip, and an inverted U-shaped design between its wing bases.
“This bumble bee is partly at risk because of its very small range of distribution,” he said. “Adverse effects within this narrow range can have a much greater effect on it than on more widespread bumble bees.”
If it’s given protective status, this could “stimulate research into the probable causes of its decline,” said Thorp, an active member of The Xerces Society. “This may not only lead to its recovery, but also help us better understand environmental threats to pollinators and how to prevent them in future. This petition also serves as a wake-up call to the importance of pollinators and the need to provide protections from the various threats to the health of their populations.”
Thorp hypothesizes that the decline of the subgenus Bombus (including B. franklini and its closely related B. occidentalis, and two eastern species B. affinis and B. terricola) is linked to an exotic disease (or diseases) associated with the trafficking of commercially produced bumble bees for pollination of greenhouse tomatoes.
Other threats may include pesticides, climate change and competition with nonnative bees, according to the Xerces Society executive director Scott Hoffman Black. Said Sarina Jepson, endangered species program director at the Xerces Society: "Bumble bees play a critical role in ecosystems as pollinators of wildflowers, as well as many crops. We hope that the service will ultimately provide Endangered Species Act protection to this important pollinator."
Named in 1921 for Henry J. Franklin, who monographed the bumble bees of North and South America in 1912-13, Franklin’s bumble bee frequents California poppies, lupines, vetch, wild roses, blackberries, clover, sweet peas, horsemint and mountain penny royal during its flight season, from mid-May through September. It collects pollen primarily from lupines and poppies and gathers nectar mainly from mints.
According to a Xerces Society press release, bumble bees are declining throughout the world.
Researchers in Britain and the Netherlands have “noticed a decline in the abundance of certain plants where multiple bee species have also declined. For many crops, such as greenhouse tomatoes, blueberries and cranberries, bumble bees are better pollinators than honey bees, and some species are produced commercially for their use in pollination. ”
Last October Thorp received a 2010-11 Edward A. Dickson Emeriti Professorship Award, from UC Davis to support his research on the critically imperiled bumble bee. The objectives of Thorp’s research funded by the Dickson grant are to:
- Collect bumble bees for disease studies at the University of Illinois with emphasis on B. franklini (where and when appropriate so as not to hinder population recovery) and B. occidentalis and potential reservoir species known to co-occur with them, all within the historic range of B. franklini.
- Survey for B. franklini and B. occidentalis with emphasis on B. franklini historical sites.
- Include observations on population abundance of other species of bumble bees at monitoring sites for comparison with the two target species.
- Monitor floral visitation and track any individuals of B. franklini and/or B. occidentalis to determine their foraging behavior, subset of overall habitat used, nest site locations, and acceptance of trap-nest boxes.
Thorp, a fellow of the California Academy of Sciences, teaches “The Bee Course” every summer for the American Museum of Natural History of New York at its field station in Arizona.
(Editor's Note: The Xerces Society contributed to this news release. See UC Davis Department of Entomology website at http://entomology.ucdavis.edu/news/franklinbumblebee.html for larger version of Franklin's bumble bee)
- Posted By: Jeannette E. Warnert
- Written by: Penny Leff, (530) 752-7779, email@example.com
This conference will be a chance for farm trails groups and everyone else involved in California agritourism to share tools and strategies for supporting California farmers and ranchers in developing successful agritourism operations to meet the growing demand for local food and authentic agricultural experiences.
While California agritourism has so far been primarily organized at the county and regional level, other states have organized statewide agritourism associations. At the November summit, experts will help participants explore the relationships and benefits involved in both statewide and local/regional agritourism programs. This gathering will help newer local agritourism associations build stronger connections with more experienced groups and with supportive agricultural, tourism and community development professionals throughout the state.
“We look forward to talking with other California agritourism organizers,” said Tim Neuharth, pear grower and founding member of the new Sacramento River-Delta Grown Agritourism Association. “People from Apple Hill, Sonoma County Farm Trails and Sacramento County Farm Bureau have been very kind in helping us set up our organization. We have big plans for our fledgling group of Sacramento River Delta growers.”
Speakers include Karen Ross, secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture; Martha Glass, executive director of North Carolina’s highly successful Agritourism Networking Association; and representatives from the Apple Hill Growers Association.
The workshop will include regional breakout sessions for networking, discussion and planning. Participants will also take away a toolkit of practical ideas, resources, social media tools and starter projects to organize agritourism associations in their own regions.
This conference is for agritourism operators and associations; agricultural, tourism and community development professionals; county staff and officials; and others involved in California agritourism.
Registration is open now at http://ucanr.org/agtoursummit.2011.
||Friday, November 4, 2011|
|Time:||8:30 am - 4:15 pm|
|Location:||Robert J. Cabral Agricultural Center / UC Cooperative Extension San Joaquin County
2101 Earhart Ave., Stockton, CA 95206
|Cost:||$20 (includes continental breakfast, lunch and handouts)|
|Information:||Penny Leff, UC Small Farm Program, firstname.lastname@example.org, 530-752-7779|
This project was partially funded by the Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program, with additional support from the Delta Conservancy and the Sierra Nevada Conservancy./table>
- Author: Pamela Kan-Rice
UC Berkeley professor Barbara Allen-Diaz, associate vice president of Agriculture and Natural Resources, was appointed today (Sept. 15) by the Board of Regents to a term position as head of the university’s statewide agricultural and natural resources programs.
As UC systemwide vice president for Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR), Allen-Diaz will lead the university’s research and outreach activities in food systems, environmental sciences, family and consumer sciences, forestry, community development, 4-H youth development and related areas. The appointment is effective for up to three years, beginning October 1, 2011.
“For more than 140 years, UC has provided California farmers the research and new technology they need to compete in global markets,” said UC President Mark G. Yudof. “Together, we have developed new crops varieties and some of the most progressive and environmentally friendly farming practices to produce an abundant and safe supply of food. Under the leadership of Barbara Allen-Diaz, ANR will continue its legacy of working within California communities to address new challenges.”
ANR programs, including Cooperative Extension and the Agricultural Experiment Station, are located on UC’s Berkeley, Davis and Riverside campuses, with nine research and extension centers and more than 50 county offices throughout the state, with nearly 1,000 Agricultural Experiment Station faculty, Cooperative Extension specialists and Cooperative Extension advisors.
“I am deeply honored to be selected as vice president for Agriculture and Natural Resources,” said Allen-Diaz. “I am privileged to work with incredibly dedicated, hard-working people who possess exceptional expertise and a passion to find solutions to the most pressing problems facing California agriculture, natural resources and our youth.”
The first woman to lead UC’s Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Allen-Diaz succeeds Daniel M. Dooley, who was appointed in January 2008. In November 2008, Dooley agreed to take on additional responsibilities as senior vice president for External Affairs and he has served since then in both roles. Given the increasing demands of the two roles, it is no longer feasible for one individual to cover both positions.
As Dooley resigns his position as vice president-Agriculture and Natural Resources on October 1, Allen-Diaz will succeed him as vice president, reporting directly to the provost and executive vice president-Academic Affairs.
In addition to his title as senior vice president for external relations, Dooley will be named senior advisor to the President on Agriculture and Natural Resources and will be available to advise Allen-Diaz, Provost Lawrence Pitts and President Yudof on issues related to agriculture and natural resources and the strategic direction of ANR.
Allen-Diaz is an effective and seasoned leader in the Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, where she has served as associate vice president-Academic Programs and Strategic Initiatives since 2009 and as assistant vice president–programs since 2007. She is currently on leave from her position as a tenured faculty member in the College of Natural Resources on the Berkeley campus, where she has worked since 1986. She also holds the prestigious Russell Rustici Chair in Rangeland Management.
“I am very excited about Barbara stepping into this role,” said Dooley. “As a member of a farming family, I have a personal investment in ANR and I know she cares deeply about the organization. I respect her as a scientist and have confidence in her capability to lead ANR.”
Allen-Diaz was among 2,000 scientists recognized for their work on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), when the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded jointly to the IPCC and Vice President Al Gore in 2007. Allen-Diaz's contributions focused on the effects of climate change on rangeland species and landscapes. She has authored more than 160 research articles and presentations and is an active participant in her professional society; she has served on its board of directors and on various government panels.
Allen-Diaz will receive an annual salary of $280,000, along with the following additional items university policy: standard pension and health and welfare benefits and standard senior management benefits, including Senior Manager Life Insurance, Executive Business Travel Insurance and Executive Salary Continuation for Disability, and use of administrative funds for official entertainment and other purposes permitted by university policy.
Allen-Diaz earned a B.A. in anthropology, an M.S. in range management and a Ph.D. in wildland resource sciences, all from UC Berkeley.
- Posted By: Brenda Dawson
- Written by: Pam Kan-Rice, (530) 754-3912, email@example.com and Tong Wu, (510) 643-5429, Tongwu@berkeley.edu
October 4, 2011
The University of California is hosting a two-part workshop series, “Ties to the Land,” to help forest landowners pass their land and its legacy on to the next generation.
The first workshop is being offered at 11 locations throughout California. All workshops will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
“Family forests create many benefits through their stewardship actions, but the legacy can fall prey to the confusing details of land titles, permits, and inheritance if families have not crafted a succession plan,” said Bill Stewart, UC Cooperative Extension forestry specialist and organizer of the series. “This is especially true for owners who do not live in the county where their forest is. Their heirs have probably spent little time on the land and the lack of shared goals can become a problem.”
During the first workshop, participants will learn the steps needed to plan for passing land along to their heirs. An important first step in this process is clarifying the current owners’ goals and values for their family forest or ranch. This allows landowners to start the discussion with heirs about their long-term vision for the property. Participants will also learn about the financial impacts of ownership transfers across generations.
This first round of identical workshops is being held before the holidays, to allow time for families to get together during the winter holidays and discuss their goals. Locations and dates for the first workshop are as follows:
- Nevada City, Tuesday, October 11
- Placerville, Monday, October 17
- Sonora, Wednesday, October 19
- Redding, Tuesday, October 25
- Yreka, Wednesday, October 26
- Quincy, Thursday, October 27
- Ukiah, Tuesday, November 8
- Garberville, Wednesday, November 9
- Eureka, Thursday, November 10
- Berkeley, Tuesday, November 15
- Rohnert Park, Wednesday, November 16
The second workshop will be held after the holidays and will cover the financial and legal approaches and tools such as trusts, limited liability companies, and easements used in succession planning as well as specific planning approaches used to manage land and resources. Dates and times of the second workshop will be announced later.
Registration for the workshop is $25 per family to cover costs of the family workbook and DVD. Multiple members of each family are encouraged to attend both workshops and can attend the workshop location nearest to them as the curriculum will be the same.
To register for the workshop or for more information on locations or the workshop series, please see the University of California Forest Research and Outreach website http://ucanr.org/tiestotheland.