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Record $16.5 million NIH grant continues research opportunities for Idaho youth


Idaho’s biomedical research capacity will grow through a $16.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE). This largest scientific research grant in Idaho’s history—directed by UI CALS Professor of Microbiology Carolyn Hovde Bohach—extends research opportunities for Idaho youth and faculty to 2014.

Nine universities and colleges and the Boise VA Medical Center provide research experience for college undergraduates and high school students. The grant also supports graduate students, post-doctoral researchers, and faculty through the IDeA network.

Since 2001, nearly 570 Idaho undergraduate students have spent summers conducting research with faculty thanks to the first round of NIH funding that created the Biomedical Research Infrastructure Network in Idaho.

INBRE support also enhanced laboratory technology throughout Idaho, including the creation of a bioinformatics core for multi-institution data sharing.

"This award is important for Idaho as it allows us to continue the network of collaborative educational outreach and biomedical research supported by the NIH National Center for Research Resources," Bohach said. "These experiences allow students to build their skills and explore biomedical careers. Participants have since gone on to pursue graduate studies, becoming researchers, physicians, and other biomedical professionals."

Providing projects and student researchers are the University of Idaho, Boise State University, Idaho State University, North Idaho College, Lewis-Clark State College, The College of Idaho, Northwest Nazarene University, College of Southern Idaho, and Brigham Young University – Idaho.

Contact Carolyn Hovde Bohach at and see


Drip could cut irrigation water In half for Treasure Valley orchard


Rather than drip-drip-drip away his profits on sprinkler irrigation, fruit grower Chad Henggeler is testing drip irrigation this year in a new block of apples at family-owned Henggeler Orchard in Fruitland.

A 1996 University of Idaho political science graduate with a minor in agricultural economics, Henggeler hopes to harvest the benefits of nine years of research by UI fruit tree physiologist Essie Fallahi at the nearby UI Parma Research and Extension Center. Compared to conventional impact sprinklers he typically uses, Henggeler expects to cut water use in half. He plans to save additional dollars by closely coordinating his irrigation scheduling with weather data and by delivering fertilizer directly to his trees’ root zone in six tightly controlled drip applications.

In Caldwell, Symms Fruit Ranch is expanding drip irrigation again this season. Field operations manager Jamie Mertz credits Fallahi with “positively influencing us into using it.”

Fallahi has shown that drip irrigation produces optimal yields of high-quality Fuji and Gala apples with 40 percent less water compared with microjet sprinklers and 55 to 60 percent less water compared with impact sprinklers, while reducing the threat of collar and root rots. “I’m confident that it pays off, not only based on water savings, but because we’re giving the trees very precisely what they need and getting a perfect balance between shoot and fruit growth,” he says.

Fallahi is continuing his research with investigations into irrigation-fertilizer interactions and deficit drip irrigation—applying less water than apple trees are traditionally thought to need.

Contact Essie Fallahi at


Birds and bees to battle prionus beetles


The adults are 2-inch-long beetles and the young are 3-inch-long larvae, so you’d think catching and killing the California prionus beetle—the fiercest pest of hop yards—would be relatively easy. But you’d be wrong.

That’s because it spends most of its 3- to 5-year lifespan underground, feeding on roots of perennial crops. A member of the long-horned beetle family, it surfaces for only a few weeks in summer to mate and lay eggs before dying.

That’s where a team of scientists that includes UI entomologist Jim Barbour is intercepting it. The weapon they identified: the first pheromone ever to attract a long-horned beetle male to a female. Placed in traps around hop yards, it holds promise in mating disruption, mass trapping, and attract-and-kill systems against California prionus as well as clues to thwarting its long-horned cousins.

Since 2004, Barbour and his research partners—Larry Hanks of the University of Illinois and Jocelyn Millar of the University of California—have conducted laboratory and field experiments to find the pheromone. Last year, they identified its active component as an isomer of 3,5-dimethyldodecanoic acid. At doses as low as 10 billionths of a gram, it was highly attractive to California prionus males creeping through plastic “olfactometers.” In the field, as little as 10 micrograms drew them into lures.

Another year or two of testing may be all it takes to launch commercial product development, Barbour says. “We have no way of managing this pest now—except for taking out hop yards—so growers really need this. It’s very active at very low doses and has the potential to be a very safe, effective tool.”

Contact Jim Barbour at


Extend your financial know-how


In federal fiscal year 2008, University of Idaho Extension educators taught 252 personal finance classes directly to 13,991 adults and youth. In 2009, the demand—and need—continue to mount. Amidst the current economic upheaval, UI Extension family economics specialist Marilyn Bischoff says education helps. “At all income levels, people with financial plans feel more secure than those without,” she says. “Research shows they’re better prepared to handle financial crises.”

To survive tough economic times, Bischoff reminds Idahoans to spend less than you earn; be future-minded; learn about and follow recommended financial practices; build human capital (education); make com- pound interest your friend; save and invest regularly; develop a personal asset-allocation strategy; honestly assess your risk tolerance level; diversify your investments.

To educate yourself online, she suggests subscribing to Idaho’s Two-Cent Tips e-newsletter at

Find more help at a trio of UI Extension Web sites: To attend in-person trainings, contact UI Extension educators in your county ( for the availability of such classes as:

Basic personal finance: Surviving the Recession, Dollar Decision$, Credit Cents, Building Bucks, Credit Card BINGO, Saving $ on Everyday Expenses, Building Emergency Savings, Getting Ahead in a Just-Getting-By World, Steps of Financial Freedom, and Strengthening Native Families.

Youth personal finance: Money on the Bookshelf, Fun with Money, 4-H Financial Champions, Personal Finance for Teens, and the real-world simulations That’s Life, Welcome to the Real World, and So You Want to Move Out?

Later-life financial planning: You Can Retire Well, Legally Secure Your Financial Future, and Long-Term Care.

Contact Marilyn Bischoff at
Or, find many UI publications to buy or download for free at


Helping Idaho crop producers manage costs


IN 2008, THE OPERATING COSTS of producing potatoes spiked 20 to 24 percent over 2007, led by fertilizer price surges of 75 to 82 percent and machinery operating expense hikes of 33 to 40 percent. In 2009, if fuel and fertilizer expenses remain subdued, UI Extension economist Paul Patterson expects costs to rise no more than 5 percent.

Patterson keeps Idaho producers informed of operating and ownership costs of bringing their crops to market. “We’ve been seeing extreme volatility in both commodity and input prices,” he says. “Growers can’t control commodity prices, but they can control their input costs—and they need to focus their management attention on factors they can control.”

Last year, Patterson and his colleagues updated 58 of CALS’ 85 representative crop budgets, along with a Windows-based Crop Enterprise Budget Worksheet program that helps growers track their own field-by-field costs. This year, he’ll add newly in-demand budgets for organic potatoes and Roundup Ready® sugarbeets, and a spreadsheet for calculating the fertilizer value of dairy compost and manure.

Contact Paul Patterson at
See crop budgets at (click on Resources/Crops)


Idaho bean seed deal with Mexico


A FEDERAL marketing grant awarded to the Idaho Bean Commission and Idaho State Department of Agriculture has grown into a rewarding partnership with the University of Idaho’s Foundation Seed Program at Kimberly, Idaho companies, and bean producers in Mexico.

The grant, said Kathy Stewart-Williams, foundation seed manager, “helped promote Idaho certified seed and expand sales into Mexico because we grow fantastic seed here in Idaho.”

From 2004 to 2008, Global Trade Information Services reported Mexico’s dry bean seed imports from Idaho more than doubled from 23 to 52 percent of market share, said Diana Caldwell, Idaho Bean Commission executive director.

The first year of field trials in Mexico’s rich agricultural state of Sinaloa proved the program’s potential in 2006. “We learned Idaho seed held up really well in their production conditions,” Stewart-Williams said. She presented a popular planting seminar at Mexico’s largest agricultural expo in February.

Contact Kathy Stewart-Williams at


Cutthroat trout surprise researchers by shedding selenium toxicity


When Ron Hardy, director of the UI Hagerman Fish Culture Experiment Station, began studying selenium toxicity in cutthroat trout in 1999, he didn’t realize what a startling journey he had initiated.

The fish he reared from eggs collected by Idaho Department of Fish and Game biologists revealed a tale never told before. Rather than accumulating selenium to levels toxic to adult or juvenile fish, the cutthroat stayed healthy, reaching and holding a constant body selenium level for more than two years.

An essential dietary nutrient, selenium can accumulate to fatal levels in grazing animals and some fish. Concerns about mining activities driving up selenium levels in Blackfoot River system cutthroat prompted the research. It was funded by MWH, a consulting firm working with both phosphate-mining companies and federal agencies.

At Hagerman, the fish were fed diets supplemented with varying levels of selenomethionine—the organic form of selenium found in the aquatic food chain. Even at the highest levels, Hardy’s cutthroat trout were still healthy and growing after 12, 26, 44, and even 80 weeks; at 124 weeks, they spawned healthy offspring as well.

At 44 weeks, in order to simulate what might happen when cutthroat migrate into uncontaminated downstream waters, Hardy switched some of the fish fed selenium diets to a diet with no added selenomethionine. Amazingly, after 32 more weeks, fish previously fed the most selenomethionine showed the fastest reduction in body concentrations. “They apparently adapted to their selenium intake by modifying their rate of selenium excretion,” Hardy says. “That hasn’t been seen in any wild fish studies before.”

Hardy attributes the unexpected results to species differences and the study’s use of organic rather than inorganic selenium.

Contact Ron Hardy at