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Drought-resistant wheat, soybeans WSU’s aim in USDA grant research

Mechthild Tegeder

Researchers at Washington State University seek to improve drought-resistant crops, thanks to more than $900,000 in funding from the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).

Mechthild Tegeder, professor in the WSU School of Biological Sciences, received $494,000 to study the role of important compounds, called ureides, in soybeans. In the long term, her team’s work could enhance soybean productivity and transfer these discoveries to other crops, improving yields.

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Photographing the elusive, endangered lynx

Daniel Thornton

Deep in the forests of Washington’s Kettle Mountains, Washington State University wildlife biologist Daniel Thornton searches for signs of a rare and elusive type of wild cat — the lynx.

An assistant professor in the School of Environmental Science, Thornton and environmental science graduate students Travis King and Arthur Scully are helping to lead the largest lynx camera survey ever done in the state this June-October.

The goal of the multiyear research project is to understand the distribution and abundance of Washington’s lynx in order to develop an informed plan for their conservation and recovery.

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WSU looks for practices to thwart antimicrobial resistance

Robert Quinlan

Washington State University scientists are addressing growing global concern about the spread of antimicrobial resistance in Africa, where the World Health Organization predicts that, by 2050, drug resistant tuberculosis and other bacteria could lead to the deaths of 4.15 million people each year.

Their work identifying practices that lead to bacterial transmission could help save African lives and prevent the spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria to the U.S. and other parts of the globe.

Doug Call, a professor in WSU’s Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health, Robert Quinlan, a professor in the Department of Anthropology, and Mark Caudell, a postdoctoral fellow, are the lead authors of a recent study in PLOS One investigating how human behavior, cultural context and living conditions in Tanzania affect the transmission of antimicrobial resistant bacteria from livestock to humans.

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Soybean nitrogen breakthrough could help feed the world

Mechthild Tegeder
Mechthild Tegeder

Washington State University biologist Mechthild Tegeder has developed a way to dramatically increase the yield and quality of soybeans.

Her greenhouse-grown soybean plants fix twice as much nitrogen from the atmosphere as their natural counterparts, grow larger and produce up to 36 percent more seeds.

“The biggest implication of our research is that by ramping up the natural nitrogen allocation process we can increase the amount of food we produce without contributing to further agricultural pollution,” Tegeder said. “Eventually we would like to transfer what we have learned to other legumes and plants that humans grow for food.”

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Modeling maps vegetation to monitor erosion, rising seas

Stephen Henderson
Stephen Henderson

Washington State University scientists Stephen Henderson and Nikolay Strigul have developed a computer model that uses photographs to recreate the complex geometry of coastal plants.

“A large and growing percentage of Earth’s human population lives at low elevations along coastlines,” said Henderson, an associate professor in the School of the Environment at WSU Vancouver. “Developing a better understanding of the sheltering effects of aquatic vegetation on these environments will help us identify areas at risk from climate change and in the design of solutions to future problems.”

The research more efficiently gathers input for models that determine the effectiveness of mangrove forests, seagrass beds and other coastal plants at depositing sediment and reducing flooding and erosion. This could eventually help scientists predict how rising seas and more frequent extreme weather events will affect coastal population centers impacted by climate change.

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