Two-day workshop prepares producers, emergency responders for ag emergencies

Emergency response and planning for agricultural emergencies are part of a two-day training workshop in Casper for producers and government entities.

The “Wyoming Ag Responder Academy” is Friday-Saturday, Sept. 8-9, at the Central Wyoming Fairgrounds in Casper, said Scott Cotton, University of Wyoming Extension educator and a presenter during the course.

The sessions are sponsored by UW Extension, Colorado State University Extension and Montana State University Extension addressing specific needs of western states that have fewer resources, deal with greater distances and more community dependence on agriculture, said Cotton.

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UW team studies how ranch economics affected by sage-grouse conservation efforts

John Tanaka, associate director of the Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station

How greater sage-grouse conservation practices have affected ranch economics across six states is being studied by a University of Wyoming research team.

The group in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management will draw input from local ranchers across Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon and Washington, said John Tanaka, professor and associate director of the Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station.

The team will develop cow-calf ranch enterprise budgets for use in models to estimate the economic impacts of different conservation practices on ranches, said Holly Kirkpatrick, one of the research assistants.

Partnerships between federal and state agencies and private landowners have reduced threats to greater sage-grouse in 90 percent of the species’ breeding habitat, said Tanaka. He said the practices have changed the way livestock are grazed on millions of acres of land across the western United States, especially on public lands.

“Ranchers manage extensive areas of those lands and are critical to help keep the bird from being listed as threatened or endangered in the future,” said Tanaka. “The project will assess how ranchers and the communities in which they operate have been affected.”

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UW scientists find soil bacteria require two-layer security just like in digital world

Ph.D. student Chris Vassallo

Those people at Google think they’re sooooo smart. So, too, the Apple and Microsoft wunderkinds.

Their software (and many others) use two-factor authentication in the digital world to verify identity, but they’re a little behind. A one-celled soil bacterium beat them to it by who-knows-how-many millions of years.

University of Wyoming Ph.D. student Chris Vassallo in molecular biologist Dan Wall’s laboratory found the bacterium Myxococcus xanthus perform its equivalent of a secret handshake after an initial meet-and-greet encounter in their social world. The second-level of verification is important. They die if not recognized.

Their results are described in “Infectious polymorphic toxins delivered by outer membrane exchange discriminate kin in myxobacteria” published this week in the open-access journal eLife.

Earlier research in Wall’s lab found these bacteria recognize kin through the cell surface receptor called TraA and transfer cellular goods to each other when touching via a process the lab calls outer membrane exchange (OME). This current research is about the cargo that’s exchanged.

M. xanthus social lifestyle requires them to cooperate with their kin or close family members.

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UW receives grant to develop more accurate brucellosis test for swine, cattle

Ph.D. student Noah Hull’s research project is to develop a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) brucellosis test that would be quicker, cheaper, and more accurate than culture tests used today.

Researchers in the Department of Veterinary Sciences at the University of Wyoming will use a $149,000 grant from the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research to help develop a quicker, cheaper and more accurate test to detect brucellosis.

The money will help fund studies to detect swine brucellosis (Brucella suis), which is prevalent among feral swine in most of the United States, but not yet in Wyoming. B. suis can also infect domestic swine and cattle where their populations overlap.

The money will help continue efforts toward creating a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) analysis, an ongoing effort by Dr. Brant Schumaker, DVM, and associate professor in the department.

There is a growing pressure for hog producers to move from confinement production to natural or pasture-raised swine. Serologic (blood) testing cannot discriminate between cattle brucellosis (Brucella abortus) and B. suis exposures.

Associate Professor Brant Schumaker

“I think most of the state understands how much of a problem cattle brucellosis has been in the Greater Yellowstone Area,” said Schumaker, epidemiologist at the Wyoming State Veterinary Laboratory. He will lead the collaborative project with Texas A&M University.

“If this disease were to come to the state, we would have a hard time differentiating between the two organisms,” said Schumaker.
UW and Texas A&M will match the grant for a total of $299,000 for the project. Funding is through the foundation’s Rapid Outcomes from Agricultural Research (ROAR) program.

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UW bulletin introduces Rogers Research Site, post-fire studies

A decorated U.S. Army officer quietly bequeathed his 320-acre mountainous property to the University of Wyoming in 2002 and since then UW faculty members and students in an equally quiet manner have been conducting studies relating to the improvement of forestry and wildlife resources in Wyoming and beyond.

Several of the research teams are now in the final stages of completing peer-reviewed bulletins detailing their investigations, including the restoration of ponderosa pine forest following a high-intensity wildfire in 2012.

Their studies are being conducted on land that was willed to UW by Col. William C. Rogers, who retired to southeast Wyoming’s rugged Laramie Mountains after his distinguished career in the military, which took him to the Western Front during World War II.

An overview of the research, a story about the most interesting Col. Rogers and details about the land he donated to UW are in RRS Bulletin 1, Introduction to the University of Wyoming’s Rogers Research Site, north Laramie Mountains, Wyoming, the first publication in the RRS series. In the coming weeks and months, additional bulletins will be released to the public that showcase early planning efforts and studies at the property near the prominent Laramie Peak northwest of Wheatland.

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