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


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Maize genome ‘dark matter’ discovery a boon for breeders

May 16, 2016
ITHACA, N.Y. – For astronomers, “dark matter” is the largely hypothetical substance that accounts for approximately 85 percent of the matter in the universe. Now, plant scientists have discovered a different kind of “dark matter” in the maize genome: a tiny percentage of regulatory DNA that accounts for roughly half of the variation in observable […] Read more

School lunch subsidy could boost local farms, economies

May 12, 2016
ITHACA, N.Y. – If New York state lawmakers were to provide a subsidy of 5 cents per school lunch just one day per week for the purchase of local fruits and vegetables, it would likely provide a financial boost for New York farmers and local economies. The finding is according to a recent report, “The […] Read more

Cutting-edge climate data for New York has new digital home

May 10, 2016
ITHACA, N.Y. – Type “New York climate data” into Google and be prepared for a deluge of nearly 8 million search results. Somewhere in that vast flood may be the relevant information you need, but wading through what’s trivial and out of date can be a frustrating slog requiring time and scientific know-how to navigate. […] Read more

Cornell’s Sutton Road Solar Farm now online to power Geneva Station

May 3, 2016
GENEVA, N.Y. – Bring on the sunshine: Cornell University’s new Sutton Road Solar Farm, a 2-megawatt energy facility that will offset nearly 40 percent of the annual electricity demand at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, New York, is now fully operational. “Our researchers are conducting basic and applied research to improve […] Read more

Junk-food junkies go healthy when rewarded

Apr 28, 2016
ITHACA, N.Y. – Healthy eating habits are more important than ever, with advocates calling for fast-food restaurants, schools and food providers to promote the sale of salads and vegetables as alternatives to burgers and fries. According to new Cornell University research, the most effective strategy for influencing such healthy food choices is not calorie counts […] Read more

Beyond milkweed: Monarchs face habitat, nectar threats

Apr 22, 2016
ITHACA, N.Y. – In the face of scientific dogma that faults the population decline of monarch butterflies on a lack of milkweed, herbicides and genetically modified crops, a new Cornell University study casts wider blame: sparse autumnal nectar sources, weather and habitat fragmentation.     Media note: A video of the researcher explaining the findings is […] Read more

Some frogs are adapting to deadly pathogen

Apr 13, 2016
ITHACA, N.Y. – Some populations of frogs are rapidly adapting to a fungal pathogen called Batrachochrytrium dendrobatridis (Bd) that has decimated many populations for close to half a century and causes the disease chytridiomycosis, according to a new study. Cornell and University of Central Florida researchers took a step toward identifying the genetic mechanisms that […] Read more

‘Climate-smart soils’ may help balance the carbon budget

Apr 7, 2016
Here’s the scientific dirt: Soil can help reduce global warming. While farm soil grows the world’s food and fiber, scientists are examining ways to use it to sequester carbon and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. “We can substantially reduce atmospheric carbon by using soil. We have the technology now to begin employing good soil practices to […] Read more

Primate evolution in the fast lane: Mechanism discovered that creates ‘clusters of mutations’ that affect traits

Apr 7, 2016
The pace of evolution is typically measured in millions of years, as random, individual mutations accumulate over generations, but researchers at Cornell and Bar-Ilan Universities have uncovered a new mechanism for mutation in primates that is rapid, coordinated, and aggressive. The discovery raises questions about the accuracy of using the more typical mutation process as […] Read more

Cornell-Swiss study finds protein with power to improve heart function

Apr 6, 2016
ITHACA, N.Y. – The human heart is a remarkable muscle, beating more than 2 billion times over the average life span. But the heart’s efficiency can decrease over time. One major contributor to this decreased function is cardiac hypertrophy – a thickening of the heart muscle, resulting in a decrease in the size of the […] Read more

Eating green could be in your genes

Mar 30, 2016
Media note: Short videos explaining the research, as well as graphics and the paper can be downloaded at Researchers are available for interviews in Mandarin and Hebrew. ITHACA, N.Y. – Could there be a vegetarian gene? Cornell University researchers have found evidence of a genetic variation – called an allele – that has evolved […] Read more

$4.8 million USAID grant to strengthen biotechnology partnership and improve food security in South Asia

Mar 29, 2016
ITHACA, NY: To strengthen capacity to develop and disseminate genetically engineered eggplant in Bangladesh and the Philippines, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has awarded Cornell a $4.8 million, three-year grant. The award supports USAID’s work under Feed the Future, the U.S. government’s global initiative to fight hunger and improve food security using agricultural […] Read more

Ground-nesting bees on farms lack food, grow smaller

Mar 24, 2016
ITHACA, N.Y. – According to a recent study, the size of a common ground-nesting bee – an important crop pollinator – has grown smaller in heavily farmed landscapes. The link between intensive agriculture and the size of Andrena nasonii bees has important implications for how farmers might diversify these landscapes to benefit bees. It also […] Read more

Malaria family tree has bird roots

Mar 24, 2016
ITHACA, N.Y. – A study published this week in the journal Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution reveals a new hypothesis on the evolution of hundreds of species of malaria – including the form that is deadly to humans. Extensive testing of malarial DNA found in birds, bats and other small mammals from five East African countries […] Read more

Calculator estimates your risk of poverty during next 15 years

Mar 21, 2016
ITHACA, N.Y. – Both Democratic and Republican presidential candidates have filled their debates and speeches this election year with references to America’s widespread economic insecurity and high rates of income inequality. Now rather than just listen to politicians’ sound bites, Americans can judge for themselves how close they are to falling into poverty. For many, […] Read more

Unique beak evolved with tool use in New Caledonian crow

Mar 15, 2016
It was as plain as the beak on a bird’s face. Cornell ornithologist and crow expert Kevin McGowan recalls the day in the late 1990s when he first saw stuffed specimens of the New Caledonian crow. “I remember saying to a student, ‘I don’t know what this bird does, but it does something different from […] Read more

Elizabeth Bihn named Executive Director of the Institute for Food Safety at Cornell

Mar 14, 2016
ITHACA, N.Y. – Elizabeth “Betsy” Bihn has been appointed Executive Director of the Institute for Food Safety at Cornell University. Established in December 2015 with a $2 million state grant, the Institute for Food Safety at Cornell University is a center unique in its comprehensive approach connecting training and applied research to support the implementation […] Read more

Change in mosquito mating may control Zika virus

Mar 11, 2016
ITHACA, N.Y. – Genetic cues from male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes passed on during sex affect which genes are turned on or off in a females’ reproductive tract post-mating, including genes related to blood feeding, egg development and immune defense, according to new Cornell research. The researchers believe such processes provide information that could be exploited […] Read more

Climate change less politicized among minority groups

Mar 10, 2016
ITHACA, N.Y. – Race and ethnicity as a function of climate-change attitudes is the subject of a recent study by Jonathon Schuldt, assistant professor of communication in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and collaborator Adam Pearson, assistant professor of psychology at Pomona (Calif.) College. Their work is documented in a paper, “The role […] Read more

Birds who sing together, stay together

Feb 26, 2016
Media note: Videos, still images and audio files of the fairy-wren can be downloaded at, ITHACA, N.Y. – The courtship and mating behaviors of the perky Australian red-backed fairy-wren have evolved into nothing short of a free-for-all. The rampant promiscuity of both sexes is legendary. What’s a fairy-wren to do to keep from wasting […] Read more