August 29, 2003
James Raich, associate professor of ecology, evolution and organismal
biology, and Ann Russell, affiliated assistant professor of natural resource
ecology and management, are part of a team searching for a way to restore
forest systems to help slow global warming.
Part of the team's research is taking place in Costa Rica lowlands, where
trees grow quickly in the tropical and humid climate. Trees that would take
60 years in Iowa to grow two feet in diameter, will only take 14 years
The research team will investigate the extent to which individual tree
species differ and how they influence the carbon cycle and nutrients in
reforested land. Raich and Russell think that increased plant uptake of
carbon dioxide (which helps plants grow faster) could help offset the excess
carbon dioxide produced by fossil fuel burning and may improve conditions
that would otherwise lead to global warming.
Thomas Baum, associate professor of plant pathology, is part of a
multi-university team that recently has made breakthroughs that mark the
starting point for understanding the biology of the most serious soybean
The research team discovered a comprehensive spectrum of parasitism genes in
root-knot and cyst nematodes. The parasitism genes enable nematodes to
secrete into soybean roots parasitism proteins, which are necessary for
disease to progress. Both advances recently were published in the journal
Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions.
Findings by Baum and his colleagues may help researchers devise strategies
to make host plants, like soybeans, resistant to nematode attack and damage.
Assistant professor David Vogel is leading a team of psychology department
researchers in a study of the physiological effects of marital conflict.
Physiological reactions vary based on sex. Vogel said women's heart rates
don't fluctuate as much as men's during heated discussions between spouses.
Men become more emotionally aroused during these discussions.
Much of the study is based on the assumption that a pattern often develops,
with one partner asking for changes and the other avoiding the issues
altogether. Vogel hopes the study's results could lead to better marriage
counseling and possibly help reduce spousal abuse.
Patrick Schnable, professor of agronomy, has developed a new technique for
assessing genes in plants. LaserCapture Microdissection can identify and
retrieve individual cells from specific tissues. These cells can be used for
RNA, DNA and protein research.
Although it was not Schnable's intent, his findings could allow researchers
to force the Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) protein (used in some
genetically modified corn) to be expressed in corn stalks, not the seed. If
Bt is not expressed in the seed, it may meet all USDA safety regulations.
Schnable's research also may help seed scientists develop new ways to make
plants sterile, thus, reducing the need for detasseling in the production of
hybrid seed. His research was published in the March issue of The Plant
Schnable is director of the Center for Plant Genomics and the Center for
Plant Transformation and Gene Expression, two centers in the Plant Sciences
Ames, Iowa 50011, (515) 294-4111
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