PlantVillage, an online crop-disease knowledge library and image database co-founded by a Penn State researcher, was represented at an event unveiling a new agricultural workforce development initiative Oct. 6 in Washington, D.C. The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the White House Rural Council announced America the Bountiful, which will include wide-ranging efforts to expand and diversify the U.S. agriculture workforce.
A network of computers fed a large image dataset can learn to recognize specific plant diseases with a high degree of accuracy, potentially paving the way for field-based crop-disease identification using smartphones, according to a team of researchers at Penn State and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL), in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Penn State President Eric J. Barron’s monthly WPSU show returns for its third season when it airs at 11:30 a.m. Sept. 11 on WPSU-TV. Barron will welcome David Hughes, assistant professor of entomology and biology, and Zhiwen Liu, professor of electrical engineering, to discuss how Penn State researchers utilize crowdsourcing and mobile technology to protect the world’s food supply. The program will also air at 8 p.m. Sept. 15 on WPSU-FM.
The National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation recently awarded grants totaling more than $2 million to research teams led by David Hughes, assistant professor of entomology and biology, to study microbes in the genus Ophiocordyceps -- known as "zombie-ant" fungi -- and how they precisely manipulate the behavior of their ant hosts.
David Hughes understands the devastating effects a plant disease can have on crops and the people who rely on them for food and income. This understanding, and the mentoring he received early in his research career, germinated the seed of an idea that has borne fruit in the form of an online network designed to get practical knowledge about plants and plant diseases into the hands -- and mobile devices -- of farmers around the globe.
A parasitic fungus that reproduces by manipulating the behavior of ants emits a cocktail of behavior-controlling chemicals when encountering the brain of its natural target host but not when infecting other ant species, a new study shows. The findings, which suggest that the fungus "knows" its preferred host, provide new insights into the molecular mechanisms underlying this phenomenon, according to researchers.
A parasitic fungus that must kill its ant hosts outside their nest to reproduce and transmit its infection, manipulates its victims to die in the vicinity of the colony, ensuring a constant supply of potential new hosts, according to researchers at Penn State and colleagues at Brazil's Federal University of Vicosa.
Stigmatization may have once served to protect early humans from infectious diseases, but that strategy may do more harm than good for modern humans, according to Penn State researchers.
Penn State students, coaches and faculty researchers making a difference in the world are featured in the next episode of "BTN LiveBIG," which debuts at 11 p.m. Eastern time tonight (Jan. 13) on the Big Ten Network (BTN). "BTN LiveBIG" caps an evening of Penn State programming on the network, starting with the Nittany Lion men's ice hockey facing off against No. 1-ranked Minnesota at 7 p.m.
For David Hughes, an associate of Penn State's Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics, the zombie ant phenomenon has implications far beyond the annals of weird science. It's a powerful reminder of the role of behavior in the transmission of disease.
David Hughes' work on the zombie ant phenomenon has attracted worldwide attention, a fact the Penn State biologist takes in stride. "I'm just benefiting from a great interest in parasites and zombies and that sort of stuff in popular culture," he says with a shrug.
Rainforest ecologist David Hughes has a special interest in parasites, especially those that accomplish their ends by mind control: invading the brain of a hapless host -- ants, in this case -- and causing that creature to do its bidding. Scientists like Hughes say 'zombie ants' offer new insights into the role behavior plays in spreading disease.
A parasite that fights the zombie-ant fungus has yielded some of its secrets to an international research team led by Penn State's David Hughes. The research reveals, for the first time, how an entire ant colony is able to survive infestations by the zombie-ant fungus, which invades an ant's brain and causes it to march to its death at a mass grave near the ant colony, where the fungus spores erupt out of the ant's head. "In a case where biology is stranger than fiction, the parasite of the zombie-ant fungus is itself a fungus -- a hyperparasitic fungus that specializes in attacking the parasite that turns the ants into zombies," Hughes said.
A free public lecture titled "Novel Solutions to Complex Diseases for Subsistence Agriculture" will take place at 11 a.m. on Feb. 11 in Room 100 of the Thomas Building on Penn State's University Park campus. The speaker will be David Hughes, who is an assistant professor of entomology and biology at Penn State.