US Department of Agriculture grants Iowa State $116,000

Tracy Deutmeyer

Iowa Congressman Jim Lightfoot (R) announced today that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has awarded a grant to Iowa State University.

The nearly $116,000 grant was awarded to the Department of Plant Pathology. The grant will be used to further research in the replication of the Barley Yellow Dwarf Virus RNA and the satellite RNA, said Andrea Andrews, Lightfoot’s press secretary.

“Iowa is so dependent on agriculture and the success of agriculture that for the agricultural economy, it is so important to develop new techniques and to understand agricultural problems,” Andrews said.

Allen Miller, plant pathology associate professor, works with the Barely Yellow Dwarf Virus research.

He said the virus is an economically significant damaging virus in oats, barley and wheat.

“This is a world-wide problem, but since barley is not grown in Iowa, it hits oats in Iowa the most,” Miller said.

Miller said the virus makes the plant sick and causes stunted growth in the plant.

He said they are also researching the satellite RNA that is a molecular parasite of the virus.

“It’s kind of a virus of a virus,” he said.

The satellite replicates often, and researchers are trying to discover why the replication occurs.

“It just came out that this satellite RNA makes the symptoms of the virus milder. That discovery was made by a graduate student named Lada Rasochova,” he said.

“This satellite RNA reduces the severity of the disease symptoms. It makes the plant taller with more grain, but still not as healthy as a regular plant,” he said.

Andrews said that the USDA administers many grants so institutions can conduct agricultural research.

“Iowa State is certainly worthy of a grant. Some of the most advanced research in the nation takes places at Iowa State,” Andrews said.

“Agricultural education is very important to Congressman Lightfoot,” she said. “Mr. Lightfoot grew up on a farm in southern Iowa. His parents still live on a farm. Family farms are important to him.”