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ARS

ARS Scientist’s Life-Saving Work Fighting Parasite Earns Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal Recognition

By probing the life cycles of parasites, Jitender Dubey’s research during the past 40 years has been instrumental in saving lives, curbing disabilities in newborn infants and greatly reducing the number of horses, cattle and lambs killed each year by infectious diseases.

Dubey, a parasitologist with the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) in Beltsville, Maryland, is being honored today as a finalist for a Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal, also known as the “Sammies.” The Sammies are given each year to federal employees who have distinguished themselves by making our country safer, healthier and stronger.

Earthworms Work Wonders for Soils

Think earthworms are only good for fish bait? Think again! Earthworms play a valuable role in soil health and viability in forests, prairies, gardens and even on farmland.

Earth Day is a good time to recognize earthworms as environmental helpers. They feed primarily on organic material in soils, eating fresh and decaying material from plant roots, including crops like corn and soybeans. As they feed, they move and mix their waste with the soil in a moist, microbe-rich environment. Earthworm tunnels bring in oxygen, drain water and create space for plant roots. Their natural feeding habits mean that small amounts of soil pass through their bodies and, surprisingly, when they excrete it, it is in better condition—what goes in comes out much better!

The Benefits of Studying a Domestic Goat with an Interesting History

In much of the developing world, goats are essential for survival and are highly valued for their meat, milk and hides. So it should come as no surprise that Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists and academic and industry colleagues, working with DNA from a domestic goat, used new technologies to develop a vastly improved and relatively inexpensive reference goat genome. This information will serve as a kind of instruction manual for scientists showing them how to use the same technologies to lower the cost of developing improved livestock genomes.

Using the World's Oldest Apple Trees to Supply New Ones

Considering the many different types of apples we see at farmers markets and supermarkets, it may be hard to believe that apple trees are not as diverse as they should be. But it isn’t the fruit-bearing part of the apple tree that’s the problem, it’s the apple tree’s rootstock.

Most of today’s commercially produced apples are from trees that were bred in two parts—the fruit-bearing scion that makes up the higher branches and tree tops, and the rootstock that forms the roots and lower trunk.

Flushed Away...Probing For Antibiotic Presence in Our Food Supply

It’s a question with major public-health implications: Could antibiotics and other widely used medications get into our food supply when they are flushed into our sewers?

To try to answer that question, researchers from USDA and Penn State University (PSU) assessed whether some commonly used pharmaceuticals could get into a wheat crop irrigated with recycled wastewater.