News Briefs 2015


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    General News

  • Xenia Morin is serving as coordinator of the 250th Anniversary Celebration for the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, which began in November and runs through 2016. Dr. Morin hosted Andrew Revkin, an award-winning science journalist, who kicked off the SEBS 250th events with a public lecture on November 12th.
  • Xenia Morin served as co-chair of the NIH-funded National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN) – CIC Academic Network (CAN) initiative at its inaugural Professional Development and Grantwriting Conference on November 1-3 at the Big Ten Conference Center in Rosemont, IL.
  • Bruce Clarke to receive the 2016 United States Golf Association (USGA) green section award, which will be presented on Feb. 6, 2016, at the USGA's Annual Meeting and Service Awards in San Diego.
  • Ning Zhang is organizing an NSF supported international workshop on Magnaporthales Genomics to be held at Rutgers University in January 6-8th, 2016.
  • David Jespersen won an oral presentation at the C5 division graduate student competition at the ASA, CSSA, SSA annual meeting entitled "Chlorophyll Synthesis and Degradation Associated with Heat-Induced Leaf Senescence".
  • Zhao, H., K. Y. Cheong, S. Li, C.-T. Ho, M. A. Lawton and R. Di. 2015. Citrus peel polymethoxyflavones reduce intestinal fat deposition in Caenorhabditis elegans. Lipids and Metabolic Diseases, An Inaugural Symposium of the New Jersey Institute for Food, Nutrition, and Health, Rutgers, Nov. 5, 2015.
  • Jillian Keough won the poster competition during the first Plant Biology and Pathology graduate student symposium held on October 2nd. Her poster was entitled "Metabolic changes during cold acclimation contributing to freezing tolerance in Creeping Bentgrass."
  • Ning Zhang received a five-year National Science Foundation CAREER grant for $592,980 entitled "An online global monograph of Magnaporthales - evolution, taxonomy, biogeography and biology of the rice blast fungus and allies".
  • USGA Turfgrass and Environmental Research Committee awarded 2 grants to members of Rutgers Turfgrass
    1. Bentgrass Tolerance, Disease Predictive Models and Fungicide Timing to Control Dollar Spot on Fairway Turf – Co-PIs: James Murphy, Bruce Clarke, and James Hempfling (graduate student) -- $90,000 over three years.
    2. Effects of Finer-Textured Topdressing Sand on Creeping Bentgrass Putting Green Turf – Co-PIs: James Murphy, James Hempfling (graduate student), and Hui 'Eric' Chen (graduate student) -- $90,000 over three years.
  • Bingru Huang will be the recipient of the Tengtou Agricultural Science Award awarded by the American Society of Agronomy at their International Annual Meeting on November 16, 2015, in Minneapolis, MN.
  • Desmond Lun and Charles Dismukes received an NSF grant (award no. 1515511) for $699,904 for a project entitled "Computational and Experimental Systems Biology of Cyanobacterial Metabolism". The project will apply state-of-the-art experimental and computational approaches to quantify and predict three basic growth physiologies in the cyanobacterium Synechococcus sp. PCC 7002: photoautotrophic growth, oxidative respiration, and auto-fermentation.
  • Joan Bennett received a one-year grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation for $49,724 in order to determine how commonly emitted fungal volatile organic compounds (VOCs) influence the growth and metabolism of other microbes in a shared indoor environment. The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation's STEM research program on the Microbiology of the Built Environment makes grants to support the growth of the new field of study that investigates the complex microbial ecosystems found in the indoor built environment.
  • Joan Bennett was awarded the Waksman Teaching Award of the Society for Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology at their annual meeting in Philadelphia, Aug 2-5, 2015.
  • Joan Bennett was elected Secretary of Division VI of the National Academy of Sciences.
  • Joan Bennett received funding of $128,000 from a U. S. Department of Agriculture Cooperative agreement entitled "Penicillium genomics for solving postharvest apple decay".
  • Joan Bennett chaired a session at the General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology in New Orleans, May 2015, entitled "Seeking solutions: beyond biases and barriers for underrepresented minority women in microbiology".
  • David Byrnes, doctoral student in plant biology, received the prestigious 2015-2016 Kirchner Food Fellow Award. Byrnes's dissertation is on selecting African leafy green vegetables as a delivery mechanism for problem micronutrients.
  • James Murphy and Bruce Clarke received three-year grant from the Tri-State Turf Research Foundation for $30,000 for a project entitled, "Using Bentgrass Tolerance, Disease Predictive Models and Fungicide Timing to Control Dollar Spot on Fairway Turf." The Tri-state Turf Research Foundation raises funds from golf courses in the metropolitan area of NYC and uses those funds to support research on turf problems in the northeastern region of the United States.
  • David Jespersen, doctoral student in plant biology, received the Graduate School–New Brunswick Dean's Award for Excellence in Research for his exceptional research accomplishments at the Spring Awards ceremony on April 23. He was one of six awardees chosen among all graduate students campus wide.
  • On May 5, Ning Zhang was awarded Rutgers Board of Trustees Research Fellowship for Scholarly Excellence and Mark Robson was awarded Rutgers Warren I. Susman Award for Excellence in Teaching at a reception hosted by President Barchi.
  • Lena Struwe received Teaching Excellence Award and John Sarti received Staff Excellence Award for 2015 Celebration of Excellence.
  • Lena Struwe was appointed as Member at large, Organization of Tropical Studies Board of Directors from March 2015 through March 2018.
  • Ilya Raskin (PI) received a grant from NIH (1R01AT008618-01) for a project entitled "Health promoting effects of high-polyphenol foods may be mediated through gut microbiome". Grant in the amount of $2,091,981 for the duration of 02/2015 - 01/2020 will test how poorly bioavailable dietary polyphenols from fruits and vegetables lower the risk of systemic, chronic diseases associated with low-grade inflammation. Research will examine both the metabolic contributions of the host organism consuming the diet as well as the microbiota housed in the host's gastrointestinal tract to provide an integrated mechanistic explanation for the physiological benefits of fruit and vegetable rich diets.
  • Brantley, P (PI) and Ilya Raskin (Co-IP) received NIH/NCCAM grant of $598,801 for a project entitled "Training in botanical approaches to combat metabolic syndrome", 1 T32 AT004094 (renewal), 05/2015 - 04/2020. The objective of this proposed training grant is to train both Ph.D. and M.D. postdoctoral fellows who possess graduate training in research methods and laboratory techniques to become productive research scientists capable of establishing scientific careers that further the efforts to understand the role of botanicals on the complex interactions between genetic, molecular and physiological aspects of the metabolic syndrome.
  • Nilgun Tumer, distinguished professor in the Department of Plant Biology and Pathology, received 2015 Toxins Best Paper Award in recognition of the outstanding publication, "Trichothecene mycotoxins inhibit mitochondrial translation – implication for the mechanism of toxicity".
  • Rong Di was invited by Iowa State University (ISU) to give a seminar entitled "From Plant Pathogens to Human Health" on Mar. 10 in the Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology.
  • David Jespersen, a Ph.D. candidate in Plant Biology received the Outstanding Dissertation Research Award by Rutgers Graduate School for his great efforts and accomplishments in dissertation research on "Metabolic and Molecular Factors Regulating Heat Tolerance in Bentgrass Species."
  • Nilgun Tumer, distinguished professor in the Department of Plant Biology and Pathology, has been appointed chair of the Gene Discovery and Engineering Resistance Advisory Committee of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wheat and Barley Scab Initiative for a two-year term beginning January 1, 2015.
  • Thomas Leustek have been been invited and have accepted to serve on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Biological Chemistry which will begin July 1, 2015 and extend to June 30, 2020. He last served on the Editorial Board on June 30, 2013.
  • Rong Di (PI) and Donald Kobayashi (Co-PI) received Rutgers, SEBS, Instructional Computing Fund (ICF), "Digitization for Plant Microscopy Instructions at Rutgers University", $4174.06, 2014-2015. The fund is used to purchase one stereo dissecting microscope, one stereo microscope with high resolution digital camera, an inverted microscope and a desktop computer to digitize the microscopic teaching in our teaching laboratory in Rm104 Foran Hall.
  • Two professors from the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences will also do their Fulbright-sponsored research in Brazil. Eric Lam in plant biology and pathology will continue his work on improving biofuel production by enhancing plant sources.
  • David Jespersen, a Ph.D. candidate with dissertation research in turfgrass stress physiology and Chas Schmid, a Ph.D candidate with dissertation research in turfgrass pathology, were awarded the prestigious Watson Fellowship by the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA). The Watson Fellowship is awarded annually to doctoral students nationwide who have been identified as promising future teachers and researchers in the field of golf course management. They were awarded $5,000, and also received all-expense-paid trips to the international golf industry conference and show, and free education seminars at the conference and show (Feb. 23-27, 2015) in San Antonio.
  • Jerry Baron received a Fellow Award and Bradley Majek received the Award of Merit from the 69th Annual Meeting of the Northeastern Weed Science Society in Williamsburg, VA in January 6, 2015.

  • Publications:

  • Walsh E, Luo J, Naik A, Preteroti T, Zhang N. 2015. Barrenia, a new genus associated with roots of switchgrass and pine in the oligotrophic Pine Barrens. Fungal Biology DOI: 10.1016/j.funbio.2015.09.010 (available online Oct. 2015)
  • Hintz, T., K. K. Matthews and R. Di. 2015. The use of plant antimicrobial compounds for food preservation. BioMed Research International, vol. 2015. doi:10.1155/2015/246264.
  • Luo J, Qiu H, Cai G, Wagner NE, Bhattacharya D, Zhang N. 2015. Phylogenomic analysis uncovers the evolutionary history of nutrition and infection mode in rice blast fungus and other Magnaporthales. Scientific Reports 5:9448. DOI: 10.1038/srep09448
  • Luo J, Walsh E, Zhang N. 2015. Toward monophyletic generic concepts in Magnaporthales: species with Harpophora asexual states. Mycologia 107: 641-646. DOI:10.3852/14-302
  • Zhou N, Chen Q, Carroll G, Zhang N, Shivas RG, Cai L. 2015. Polyphasic characterization of four new plant pathogenic Phyllosticta species from China, Japan, and the United States. Fungal Biology 119: 433-446. DOI: 10.1016/j.funbio.2014.08.006
  • Beck A, Divakar PK, Zhang N, Molina MC, Struwe L. 2015. Evidence of ancient horizontal gene transfer between fungi and the terrestrial alga Trebouxia. Organisms Diversity and Evolution 15: 235-248. DOI: 10.1007/s13127-014-0199-x
  • Luo J, Walsh E, Blystone D, Zhang N. 2015. Five new Pseudophialophora species from grass roots in the oligotrophic pine barrens ecosystem. Fungal Biology. DOI: 10.1016/j.funbio.2015.08.016 (available online Sept. 2015)
  • Bennett, J. 2015. The fungi that ate my house. Science. 359(5261): 1018.
  • Leadbetter, C.W., J.M. Capik, M. Pisetta, and T.J. Molnar. 2015. Sources of Resistance to Eastern Filbert Blight in Hazelnuts from the Republic of Georgia. Scientia Horticulturae. 193: 269­275.
  • Heckman, J.R. 2015. The Role of Trees and Pastures in Organic Agriculture. Sustainable Agriculture Research. Sustainable Agriculture Research. 4:47-55.
  • Hempfling, J.W., B.B. Clarke and J.A. Murphy. 2015. Anthracnose disease on annual bluegrass as influenced by spring and summer topdressing. Crop Sci. 55:437-443. doi:10.2135/cropsci2014.04.0297
  • Zheng Z-L , Zhang B, Leustek T, (2014) Transceptors at the boundary of nutrient transporters and receptors: a new role for Arabidopsis SULTR1;2 in sulfur sensing. Frontiers in Plant Science 5:710 doi: 10.3389/fpls.2014.00710
  • Di, R. and N. E. Tumer. 2015. Pokeweed antiviral protein: Its cytotoxicity mechanism and applications in plant disease resistance. Toxins 7:755-772. doi:10.3390/toxins7030755.

  • Books and Book Chapters

  • Baars, T., P. Beals, T. Beals, R. Brown, M. Cattell, J. Heckman, A. Nelson, G. Snyder, S. Wilson, T. Wightman. 2015. Producing Fresh Milk, Cow Edition. 2015. Farm-to-Consumer Foundation. Cincinnati, Ohio.
  • Eisenman, S.W., D.E. Zaurov, K.T. Shalpykov, and L. Struwe (eds.). 2014. Orto Aziyanin dari osumduktoru: Ozbekistan jana Kyrgyzstan - Lekarstvennie rasteniya Sredniy Azii: Uzbekistan i Kyrgyzstan [Medicinal plants of Central Asia: Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan]. Imak Ofset. Bishkek. 2014. (In Kyrgyz and Russian).
  • Struwe, L., J. Allogio, L. Cobb, J. R. Grant, M. J. Jansen-Jacobs, M. Kinkade, K. B. Lepis, H. Maas-Van De Kamer, P. J.M. Maas, & M. I. Palmer. 2014. Gentianaceae. In: /Flora of Guianas/ (M. J. Jansen-Jacobs, vol. ed.), Utrecht University, Utrecht & Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  • Struwe, L. 2014. Classification and evolution of the Gentianaceae. Pages: 13-35. In: /The Gentianaceae: characterization, conservation, propagation, genetic manipulation and application/, vol. 1 (J. J. Rybczynski, M. R. Davey, & A. Mikula, eds.), Springer Verlag, Heidelberg & New York.
  • Journal Publications
  • Poster, L. S., J. S. Pringle, & L. Struwe. 2015. Identification and descriptions of the Gentianaceae in New Jersey. /Bartonia/ 67: 1-34.
  • Pringle, J., L. S. Poster, & L. Struwe.2015.Nomenclature and typification of the Gentianaceae in New Jersey. /Bartonia /67: 35-57/.
  • Beck, A., P. Divakar, N. Zhang, M. C. Molina, & L. Struwe. 2014. Evidence of ancient horizontal gene transfer between fungi and the terrestrial alga /Trebouxia/. /Organisms, Diversity, and Evolution /(in press). doi:10.1007/s13127-014-0199-x
  • Struwe, L., V. L. Soza, S. Manickam, & R. Olmstead. 2014. Gelsemiaceae (Gentianales) expanded to include the enigmatic Asian genus /Pteleocarpa/. /Botanical Journal of Linnean Society/ 175: 482-496.
  • Struwe, L., L. S. Poster, N. Howe, C. B. Zambell, & P. W. Sweeney. 2014. The hands-on, online learning project Flora of Rutgers Campus: campus floras as a student learning tool for plant systematics. /Plant Science Bulletin/ 60: 159-169.doi: 10.3732/psb.1400008
  • Invited Talks
  • Lena Struwe: "The good, the bad, and the ugly facts about medicinal plants", Garden Club of Madison, Madison, NJ, 23 February 2015.
  • Lena Struwe: Rooting out or rooting for weeds - natural and cultural histories of superevolutionary plants, Rutgers Environmental Stewardship program, Duke Farms, 28 October 2014.

  • Speaking Invitations

  • Joan Bennett gave the Inaugural lecture at the 'Hot Topics in STEM" series entitled "Hurricane Katrina, Fungi and Feminism: One Woman's Story" at Bay Path University, Longmeadow, MA, Nov 2015
  • Joseph Heckman has been invited to speak at the International Association for Food Protection annual meeting, July 2016, as a member of a panel: "Raw Milk Discussion - An Amicable Exchange of Experts"
  • Joan Bennett gave a keynote address at the European Fungal Molecular Biology meeting in Berlin on Oct 6. The title: "A moldy memoir: how I stopped ignoring the headspace."
  • Joan Bennett gave a seminar at Drew University (Madison NJ) on October 22nd titled "The fungi that ate my house."