Capacity Funding: High Impact for Land-Grant Colleges and Local Agriculture

NIFA Capacity Funding Review - Figure 1

By Johanna Elsensohn For over a hundred years, land-grant colleges and universities (LGUs, as defined by the Morrill Acts of 1862 and 1890, as well as 1994 institutions) and associated research stations have received annual federal allotments known as capacity, or formula, funding. This money is authorized every five years by the Farm Bill and […]

What Puts the Blister Into Blister Beetles?

Epicauta chinensis blister beetle

By John P. Roche Blister beetles produce cantharidin, a 10-carbon isoprenoid molecule that is highly bitter and is toxic to most animals. Because cantharidin is so bitter, it discourages predators, and its production may have been selected for in blister beetles because of this bitterness. The molecule is found in only two insect groups: blister […]

How Sex and Scientific Research Saved Your Steak Dinner (and Bambi) From the Screwworm Fly—Again

screwworm fly

By Susan J. Weller, Ph.D., and Robert K.D. Peterson, Ph.D. If there is one thing that we have learned from scientific research, it’s this: We cannot know where the next breakthrough will come from, but maintaining adequate funding for our nation’s scientific researchers is money well-spent. As an example, consider the screwworm fly in the […]

Study Uncovers Unseen Details and Images of Ant Development

Obrunneus trap-jaw ant first instar larvae head

By Adrian Smith, Ph.D. Trap-jaw ants, with their spring-loaded jaws and powerful stings, are among the fiercest insect predators, but they begin their lives as spiny, hairy, fleshy blobs hanging from the ceiling and walls of an underground nest. New research provides the first detailed descriptions of the larval developmental stages of three species of […]

Bursting With Babies: Bizarre Reproduction Contributes to Mite’s Rapid Population Growth

Luciaphorus perniciosus mite

By Meredith Swett Walker Parenthood can be rough for many species, but imagine if reproducing meant having your abdomen swell grotesquely to house dozens of offspring. While inside you, these squirmy offspring reach their full adult size and sexual maturity. In fact, they even mate—with each other—while in your bloated belly, then burst forth ready […]