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Breaking research from Cornell University's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Either quote directly from the release or arrange a call with the researcher(s). For more information, contact Ben Rand, media relations manager, at 607-255-2722 or benjamin.rand@cornell.edu.

 

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Single genes control color, stripes in butterfly wings

Published: 
Sep 22, 2017
Two papers prove for the first time how single master genes – one for colors and iridescence and the other for stripe patterns – control these complex traits in butterfly wings, according to research by a team that includes Cornell University scientists. One paper offers the first direct proof that the optix gene controls color and iridescence; when researchers used CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing technology to “break” the gene, those butterflies had black-and-white wings [...] Read more

Dino-killing asteroid’s impact on bird evolution

Published: 
Sep 21, 2017
Human activities could change the pace of evolution, similar to what occurred 66 million years ago when a giant asteroid wiped out the dinosaurs, leaving modern birds as their only descendants. That’s one conclusion drawn by the authors of a new study published in Systematic Biology. Cornell University Ph.D. candidate Jacob Berv and University of Bath Prize Fellow Daniel Field suggest that the meteor-induced mass extinction (a.k.a. the K-Pg event) led to an acceleration in the rate of genetic evolution among its avian survivors. These survivors may have been much smaller than their pre-extinction relatives [...] Read more

Cornell Digital Ag Program Integrates with John Deere Operations Center

Published: 
Sep 19, 2017
Ag-Analytics, a cloud-based application that provides digital agriculture analytics, has integrated its technology with the John Deere Operations Center, the manufacturer’s online platform. Cornell is the first university to integrate with the John Deere Operations Center; Deere is the largest farm machinery manufacturer in the world [...] Read more

Devastating Tree Fungus Found in Brooklyn and Four Long Island Towns

Published: 
Sep 19, 2017
Cornell University scientists in partnership with state agencies identified oak wilt, a devastating pathogenic fungus that kills oak trees, in six new locations throughout New York state: four towns on Long Island, Brooklyn and Canandaigua. The disease previously had been found only in Schenectady County in 2008 and again in 2013, prior to new locations confirmed in 2016 [...] Read more

One-Third of Ph.D.s Lose Interest in Academic Careers, but Not for Lack of Jobs

Published: 
Sep 19, 2017
There are growing concerns that the challenges of landing a faculty job are discouraging young science and engineering Ph.D.s from pursuing careers in academia. The assumption is the majority aspire to a faculty career but drop out of the academic pipeline because there just aren’t enough tenure-track jobs to go around. But a new Cornell study suggests that assumption may not be true for many Ph.D.s. The research was published Sept. 18 in PLOS ONE [...] Read more

New Initiative Bridges Plant Breeding Digital Divide

Published: 
Sep 12, 2017
Crop breeders in developing countries are facing challenges in their efforts to improve yields to feed growing populations, battle crop diseases, and counter the effects of drought, salinity and poor soils. Modern genomic tools that make breeding new varieties cheaper, faster and more efficient would help meet those challenges, but developing such tools requires expertise, money, computing capabilities and training. In resource-strapped African and Asian countries, that can be a challenge, too [...] Read more

Cornell-Led Project to Improve Grapes Gets Big Boost

Published: 
Sep 7, 2017
Breeding the next great grape is getting a boost thanks to new funding for a Cornell-led project that uses genomic technology to create varieties that are more flavorful and sustainable. The project, VitisGen2, is a collaboration of 25 scientists from 11 institutions who are working in multidisciplinary teams to accelerate development of the next generation of grapes. Launched in 2011, the project was recently renewed with a $6.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Specialty Crop Research Initiative [...] Read more

Twitter Followers Use Friendships to Fight Fake News

Published: 
Sep 6, 2017
New Cornell University research offers hope that fake news and false rumors that reverberate around the Internet can be quashed. When Twitter users tweet a false rumor, they are more than twice as likely to accept correction if it comes from a mutual follower – someone they follow who also follows them – compared with when they are corrected by someone with whom they have no Twitter relationship, according to a study published this week in Political Communication. “Basically, people don’t want to look foolish in front of their friends, but are less concerned with what strangers think,” said lead author Drew Margolin, assistant professor of communication at Cornell [...] Read more

Deforestation Long Overlooked as Contributor to Climate Change

Published: 
Sep 5, 2017
When it comes to tackling climate change, the focus often falls on reducing the use of fossil fuels and developing sustainable energy sources. But a new Cornell University study shows that deforestation and subsequent use of lands for agriculture or pasture, especially in tropical regions, contribute more to climate change than previously thought. The new paper, “Are the Impacts of Land Use on Warming Underestimated in Climate Policy?” published in Environmental Research Letters, also shows just how significantly that impact has been underestimated. Even if all fossil fuel emissions are eliminated, if current tropical deforestation rates hold steady through 2100, there will still be a 1.5 degree increase in global warming [...] Read more

Fungal Spore ‘Death Clouds’ Key in Gypsy Moth Fight

Published: 
Aug 30, 2017
A fungus known to decimate populations of gypsy moths creates “death clouds” of spores that can travel more than 40 miles to potentially infect populations of invasive moths, according to a new Cornell study. That’s good news as gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar) caterpillars ravage the leaves of forest trees – especially oak and aspen – decimating forests, orchards and properties across the northeastern United States. In 2016, gypsy moth caterpillars ate the leaves off 350,000 acres of forest plants in Massachusetts alone [...] Read more

Right Whale Deaths May Be a Casualty of Climate Crisis

Published: 
Aug 29, 2017
In and around the Gulf of St. Lawrence, where five Canadian provinces converge, a string of North American right whale deaths occurred throughout this summer. For scientists like Cornell University’s Charles Greene and Erin Meyer-Gutbrod who study these animals, the whales may represent another casualty of the ongoing climate crisis impacting the world’s oceans. Ten of the 13 carcasses found this summer were located in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, far north of the regions where right whales typically reside. The 13 dead whales represent more than 2 percent of the world’s remaining population of this endangered species [...] Read more

Caffeine Tempers Taste, Triggering Temptation for Sweets

Published: 
Aug 24, 2017
Caffeine, the widely consumed stimulant and igniter of sluggish mornings, has been found to temper taste buds temporarily, making food and drink seem less sweet, according to new Cornell University research. Caffeine is a powerful antagonist of adenosine receptors, which promote relaxation and sleepiness. Suppressing the receptors awakens people but decreases their ability to taste sweetness – which, ironically, may make them desire it more [...] Read more

Drone Tech Offers New Ways to Manage Climate Change

Published: 
Aug 9, 2017
An innovation providing key clues to how humans might manage forests and cities to cool the planet is taking flight. Cornell researchers are using drone technology to more accurately measure surface reflectivity on the landscape, a technological advance that could offer a new way to manage climate change. “When making predictions about climate change, it’s critical that scientists understand how much energy the earth is absorbing and retaining,” said Charlotte Levy, a doctoral candidate who presented a talk [...] Read more

Invasive Gobies May Change Oneida Lake’s Complexion – Again

Published: 
Aug 9, 2017
Oneida Lake, a kissing cousin to New York’s Finger Lakes, may soon get an environmental makeover due to another in a series of invasive species bringing havoc to the body’s ecosystem and disturbing its recreational waters. Invasive round gobies, bottom-feeder fish from Eurasia, appear to diminish zebra and quagga mussel populations and literally cloud the waters of the 80-square-mile lake northeast of Syracuse, New York, according to Stephanie Roh ’19, a Cornell undergraduate. Roh will present her research [...] Read more

Parasites, Snails May Factor in Adirondack Moose Decline

Published: 
Aug 9, 2017
The apparent declining moose population in New York ’s Adirondack Mountains may be caused partly by tiny parasite-transmitting snails eaten by moose as they forage vegetation, according to new research presented by two Cornell undergraduate students at the annual Ecological Society of America meeting, in Portland, Oregon, Aug. 8. “Our results show that moose foraging in areas with high soil moisture may likely encounter higher densities of gastropods – snails and slugs – which likely increases the risk of parasitic threats [...] Read more

Climate Change Gardens Brings Plants Back to the Future

Published: 
Aug 8, 2017
Plots of foliage thicken in Cornell University’s Climate Change Demonstration Garden. Located at the Cornell Botanic Gardens, these raised beds provide a living illustration of how future temperature conditions may affect plants. “Climate change is one of the biggest challenges we’re facing,” said Sonja Skelly, director of education at Cornell Botanic Gardens. “For the general public, climate change is something they hear about, but it can be out of sight, out of mind. It is some sort of future phenomenon. It is not going to happen in our lifetime. It’s going to happen to somebody else in another part of the world, other than ourselves [...] Read more

‘Cornell Fruit Resources’ Is One-Stop Shop for NY Farmers

Published: 
Aug 4, 2017
With the launch of the revamped Cornell Fruit Resources website, New York growers have a new resource this season to help keep them productive and profitable. “The site is a one-stop shop for commercial fruit growers to access the wealth of information available through Cornell University to help them solve production, pest, food safety, business and other problems,” said Julie Carroll, fruit IPM coordinator with the New York State Integrated Pest Management (NYSIPM) Program, who spearheaded the update [...] Read more

See a Bear? New iSeeMammals App Lets Citizen Scientists Track Expanding Populations

Published: 
Aug 3, 2017
Black bear populations are on the rise in New York state, and Cornell University researchers are combining digital technology with on-the-ground conservation efforts to better manage the growing numbers of the animals in the state. Catherine Sun, a doctoral student in the Department of Natural Resources, working with Angela Fuller, associate professor of natural resources and leader of the New York Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, led the development of the iSeeMammals app, which enables users to collect and submit information about bear sightings or any signs – such as tracks, scat, hair or markings – that indicate the presence, or even absence, of bears. Users can submit information from one-time observations, hikes and trail cameras [...] Read more

Northeastern Farmers Smarter with New Drought Atlas

Published: 
Jul 31, 2017
Cornell University’s Climate Smart Farming program has added a new online tool – the New York State/Northeast Drought Atlas – to help farmers adapt to a warming world. The atlas presents drought severity state-by-state, county-by-county, for the entire region from 1950 to the present. The drought maps will be updated monthly, with an online newsletter for users. The application joins the Cornell-developed Apple Stage/Freeze Damage Probability, the Grape Hardiness and Freeze Risk, the Water Deficit Calculator and the Growing Degree Day Calculator in Climate Smart Farming’s toolbox [...] Read more

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