News

Sreenidhi Srinivasan with her award-winning poster "Development of a peptide-based skin test for the diagnosis of Bovine Tuberculosis"

MCIBS student wins poster awards at conference

Sreenidhi Srinivasan won Best Poster and the Brenda Love Bacteriology Award at the 2018 AAVLD Conference.

Representation of colored stimuli used in conditioning trials. IMAGE: MOLLY HIGGINS / PENN STATE

Color coded — matching taste with color

Color can impact the taste of food, and our experiences and expectations can affect how we taste food, according to Penn State researchers, who suggest this may have implications for how food and beverage industries should market their products.

Soybean was a logical crop on which to conduct the research. It is the most widely grown legume in the world. The research is important because it portends how crop yields and tolerance for conditions such as drought and extreme heat will be enhanced in the future, according to lead researcher Sally Mackenzie, professor in the departments of Biology and Plant Science at Penn State. IMAGE: STEPHEN KIRKPATRICK / USDA NATIONAL RESOURCE CONSERVATION SERVICE

'Scaring' soybeans into defensive mode yields better plants a generation later

By temporarily silencing the expression of a critical gene, researchers fooled soybean plants into sensing they were under siege, encountering a wide range of stresses. Then, after selectively cross breeding those plants with the original stock, the progeny "remember" the stress-induced responses to become more vigorous, resilient and productive plants, according to a team of researchers.

The speed and error rate of DNA Synthesis differs between regions of the genome that form the usual DNA structure (B DNA) and those regions that can form other structures (non-B DNA). Regions that can form G-quadruplexes (illustrated) slow down DNA synthesis and increase error rates, other non-B DNA structures can have the opposite effect. This phenomenon could help explain increased human genetic variation and increased divergence between human and orangutan at these sites and has implications for understanding cancer and neurological diseases associated with non-B DNA. IMAGE: WILFRIED GUIBLET, PENN STATE

DNA structure impacts rate and accuracy of DNA synthesis

The speed and error rate of DNA synthesis is influenced by the three-dimensional structure of the DNA. Using “third-generation” genome-wide DNA sequencing data, a team of researchers from Penn State and the Czech Academy of Sciences showed that sequences with the potential to form unusual DNA conformations, which are frequently associated with cancer and neurological diseases, can in fact slow down or speed up the DNA synthesis process and cause more or fewer sequencing errors.

An Anopheles freeborni mosquito takes a blood meal. Native to North America, An. freeborni is one species that researchers say could spread Mayaro virus in the United States. IMAGE: JAMES GATHANY, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL

Anopheles mosquitoes could spread Mayaro virus in U.S., other diverse regions

Mosquitoes of the genus Anopheles are well known as primary vectors of malaria. But a new study suggests that Anopheles species, including some found in the United States, also are capable of carrying and transmitting an emerging pathogen, Mayaro virus, which has caused outbreaks of disease in South America and the Caribbean.

A hibernating little brown bat showing the symptoms of white-nose syndrome. IMAGE: MARVIN MORIARTY/USFWS

Grant supports research to combat white-nose syndrome in bats

Penn State research aimed at combating white-nose syndrome in bats has received funding from the Bats for the Future Fund, a public-private partnership between the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Forest Service, Southern Company, and the Avangrid Foundation.

A grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will enable Penn State researchers to explore whether high-resolution satellite imagery can accurately identify insect and disease damage to crops on small African farms.

Gates Foundation grant to support research on satellite crop surveillance

A research team in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences has received a Grand Challenges Explorations grant — an initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. A group led by David Hughes, associate professor of entomology and biology, will pursue an innovative global health and development research project, titled "Pest and Disease Surveillance via High-Resolution Satellites."

Professor named 2018 distinguished member of Association for Computing Machinery

Vasant G. Honavar, professor and Edward Frymoyer Chair of Information Sciences and Technology, has been named a distinguished member of the Association for Computing Machinery, the world’s largest and most prestigious association of computing professionals. Honavar, who is one of 49 distinguished members named for 2018, was recognized for his outstanding scientific contributions to computing.

Deborah Kelly will continue her revolutionary, cross-disciplinary research at Penn State starting in January 2019.

Biomedical engineering welcomes pioneering cancer, cryo-electron microscopy researcher

Deborah Kelly, a ground-breaking researcher who developed the new field of structural oncology, will join the University’s Department of Biomedical Engineering as full professor and Lloyd and Dottie Foehr Huck Chair in Molecular Biophysics. Kelly will also hold a joint appointment with the Huck Institutes of Life Sciences and will serve as the director of the new Center for Structural Oncology (CSO) at Penn State.

A new study used rice seedlings to demonstrate that the stress of hotter temperatures may trigger a response in a plant’s RNA to manage the change in its environment. IMAGE: PETER NGUYEN

Hot temperatures can trigger an RNA response in plants

The stress of hotter temperatures may trigger a response in a plant's RNA, or ribonucleic acid — part of a cell's genetic messaging system — to help manage this change in its environment, according to a team of Penn State researchers.