CTAHR NEWS
Wild Pigs Worldwide 12 July 2021

Wild Pigs Worldwide

NREM studies their impact on global diversity

Wild pigs can have a devastating impact on Ag and threaten others species of concern to conservationists. But what about their impact on global biodiversity, particularly islands and species that receive less global conservation attention, such as plants, reptiles and amphibians?

“Wild pigs are unique among other species since they are herbivores, top predators, and ecosystem engineers, modifying ecosystems by digging and rooting,” says Derek Risch, a recent grad from the Dept. of Natural Resources and Environmental Management.

He adds, “We found that in addition to the over 300 plant species threatened by wild pigs globally, wild pigs actively predate and destroy critical nesting sites for hundreds of threatened and endangered reptiles, amphibians and birds.”

Read the UH News story.

"Seawool" Means Less AC 12 July 2021

"Seawool" Means Less AC

NREM undergrads use native moss to lower the inside temp – and cooling costs

Picture this: the roof of your home, covered with a light-green mixture of pincushion moss and salvaged fishing nets. This “seawool” layer is locally sourced, easily renewable, aesthetically pleasing, and – because it naturally shields the hot sun, thus reducing the need for A/C – your electric bills are lower, perhaps by as much as $300 each year.

If that sounds far fetched, meet Shelby Cerwonka and Jasmine Reighard, recent grads from the Dept. of Natural Resources and Environmental Management. Since their junior year, the students have been building mock houses at the Magoon Research and Education Station, collecting fishing nets and the native moss Leucobryum glaucum, attaching the seawool and moss to the roofs, and waiting patiently for the moss to grow so they could measure the effect.

Shelby and Jasmine were the recent guests of KHON2 and Hawaiʻi Public Radio.

Read the full UH Story and Video.

More Muscle, More Meat 6 July 2021

More Muscle, More Meat

HNFAS is part of multistate project to study livestock growth

Keeping ‘meat on the table’ for an expanding human population – with minimal environmental footprints – is a challenge. One option is to enhance muscle growth efficiency, since meat is mostly from muscle. A new project, Improving Animal Muscle Growth for Efficient Meat Production, from the Multistate Research Fund of the USDA-NIFA is bringing together researchers from 25 Agricultural Experiment Stations, who are sharing data and samples to better understand the molecular and cellular processes, and environmental factors, that control or influence animal muscle growth and function. The goal is to improve productivity and the overall quality of meat. The findings may also lead to ameliorating muscle disorders in humans and animals. In the Dept. of Human Nutrition, Food and Animal Sciences, Yong-Soo Kim, Rajesh Jha, and Birendra Mishra are studying myostatin, a growth factor that negatively affects muscle growth in animals. Conversely, blocking myostatin increases muscle mass.

Previously, Yong-Soo’s lab showed that in chickens, post-hatch muscle growth can be increased by the in-ovo suppression of myostatin activity (administering anti-myostatin to the egg). But in the poultry industry, administering anti-myostatin antibodies to individual eggs has been a barrier to adopting the technology for commercial production. Thus, for this project, the HNFAS team is hoping to find an easier way of in-ovo suppression of myostatin.

“We hypothesize that vaccination of broiler hens against myostatin will produce anti-myostatin antibodies in then hens, resulting in a transfer of anti-myostatin antibodies into their fertilized eggs, with a consequent improvement of skeletal muscle growth of post-hatch chicks,” says Yong-Soo. “The key benefits of this strategy are 1) no need to inject antibodies into eggs, 2) no hatching failure caused by such injections, and 3) no need for antibody production and purification, potentially allowing for broad and easier application of the technology in chicken production.”

He adds, “If the hypothesis works, the findings of the study will have a chance to enhance the production efficiency of chicken, with more meat. We’re excited to pursue research that will potentially benefit the poultry meat industry and educate our students in agricultural biotechnology.”

“Seawool” Means Less AC 6 July 2021

“Seawool” Means Less AC

NREM undergrads use native moss to lower the inside temp – and cooling costs

Picture this: the roof of your home, covered with a light-green mixture of pincushion moss and salvaged fishing nets. This “seawool” layer is locally sourced, easily renewable, aesthetically pleasing, and – because it naturally shields the hot sun, thus reducing the need for A/C – your electric bills are lower, perhaps by as much as $300 each year. If that sounds far fetched, meet Shelby Cerwonka and Jasmine Reighard, recent grads from the Dept. of Natural Resources and Environmental Management. Since their junior year, the students have been building mock houses at the Magoon Research and Education Station, collecting fishing nets and the native moss Leucobryum glaucum, attaching the seawool and moss to the roofs, and waiting patiently for the moss to grow so they could measure the effect.

Shelby and Jasmine were the recent guests of KHON2 and Hawaiʻi Public Radio.

Read the full UH Story and Video.

Symbionts in CBB 6 July 2021

Symbionts in CBB

PEPS identifies novel bacteria that aids the coffee berry borer

A novel bacterial species found in the coffee berry borer may actually help the beetle to degrade caffeine. This is the exciting discovery from Sayaka Aoki, who recently completed her Ph.D. dissertation under Mohammad Arif of the Dept. of Plant and Environmental Protection Sciences. While studying the eggs of this harmful pest, Sayaka isolated and identified numerous bacterial symbionts (living in close symbiosis with the beetle) and among them were four novel species, two of which had extremely high caffeine-degrading efficiencies. Upon further investigation to identify and visualize the bacterial-insect morphology, Sayaka discovered that the caffeine-degrading Pseudomonas sp. are vertically transmitted via eggs. This revealed a unique insect-bacterial symbiont relationship and suggests that elimination of these essential symbionts could potentially lead to the control of CBB in the future.

“Coffee growers and industries in Hawaii have suffered devastating damage imposed by CBB since 2010; I strongly hope our discovery will help Hawaii’s coffee growers in solving the CBB problem in near future,” says Sayaka. “Although this is the first report that successfully specified the identities of bacteria associated with the eggs of CBB with caffeine degradation and how these essential symbionts of CBB are transmitted, we still need additional studies for the practical application of these novel bacterial species.”

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