Problem viewing this email? See it here »
CAFNR Research Digest
CAFNR Office of Research Newsletter // April 7, 2022 // 4(7)
Feature Story
Cultivating Future Leaders (click to read)
Cultivating Future Leaders »

The National Institute of Food and Agriculture awarded 54 Predoctoral Fellowship grants including 2 CAFNR students

Research Highlights
Learn more about CAFNR's research enterprise (click to read)
Learn more about CAFNR's research enterprise »

Explore CAFNR’s unique research facilities

The CAFNR Research Council is hosting a series of webinars featuring speakers discussing timely topics. The next webinar in the series is today, April 7, at 3:30 p.m., and will feature Jaapna Dhillon, assistant professor in the Division of Food, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences. Find the link to the webinar and previous webinars on the CAFNR Research Council’s page. 

Working Internationally
Abraham Koo, associate professor in biochemistry (click to read)
Abraham Koo, associate professor in biochemistry

Research collaboration with South African university to improve crop tolerance

The University of Missouri system has had a decades-long collaboration with the University of the Western Cape (UWC) in South Africa that includes faculty and student exchanges and research collaborations. CAFNR faculty member, Abe Koo, has been able to utilize this collaboration to advance science for both countries.

South Africa is facing serious agricultural challenges due to climatic change and population growth. In South Africa, 91% of the soil is arid and only 13% is cultivable, while 1% is suitable for rain-fed crops. South Africa is already receiving low rainfall, and drought has hit the Western Cape and other provinces since 2017. A genetic engineering approach is being tapped into by researchers at CAFNR and UWC as a tool to combat these challenges by developing crops more resilient to environmental threats.

Research collaboration between Koo, associate professor of biochemistry, and Takalani Mulaudzi-Masuku (UWC) began in 2019, supported by the University of Missouri South African Education program (UMSAEP). Despite some interruption by the pandemic in 2020, the collaboration resumed in 2021 with the financial support from a CAFNR International Collaboration Grant. The two labs are collaborating on a project to elucidate the role of a guanylate cyclase gene named AtNOGC1 and nitric oxide in conferring stress tolerance to plants. Additionally, the two have collaborated more broadly on topics related to stress signaling. Recently, they elucidated a mechanism involved in the production of plant hormone jasmonate. Jasmonate is produced within a few minutes of insect attacks but it remained elusive until now as to how this rapid response occurs in plant cells. Part of this work has been accepted for publication in the journal Plant Physiology (2022). More investigation about this topic is currently under way in Koo’s lab with grant support from the National Science Foundation-Integrative Organismal Systems Program.

For more information about the UMSAEP program, contact Kerry Clark, director of CAFNR International Programs, at

Grant Team Tips

Changes to the CAFNR Grants Team 

The CAFNR Grants Team welcomes new Grants Business Manager, Jeri Lou Zimmerman. Zimmerman comes to the team from the Office of Sponsored Programs Administration. She has previously worked in CAFNR as the Senior Grants and Contracts Administrator. Zimmerman’s first day in CAFNR was April 4.

The team will be saying goodbye to long-term Grants Proposal Administrator, Liz Bent. She has been working on her graduate degree in journalism. Bent will graduate in the spring and will join the MU Graduate School in a new role as a Research and Grant Development Specialist. Her last day in CAFNR is April 15.

Research Roars

Top Cited Article in Agronomy Journal

Kelly Nelson, Gurpreet Kaur and Gurbir Singh’s paper, Impacts and strategies for crop production in waterlogged or flooded soils: A review, was named a top cited article in the Agronomy Journal. This work has a significant impact in Missouri and globally since flooding is one of the most damaging abiotic stresses besides drought.

CAFNR faculty members have received the following recent grants (listed by Principal Investigator):

Kevin Bradley, Efficacy of ATC and ResicoreXL tank mixtures in field corn, Corteva, 4/1/2022-3/31/2023, $6,000

Heike Buecking, Acquisitions of goods and services, Agricultural Research SVC, 4/1/2022-3/31/2023, $25,300

Jacquelin Limberg, Sex disparities in hypoxic sympatholysis and impact of obesity: Supplement, NIH Natl Heart and Lung Institute, 2/15/2022-6/30/2022, $24,212

In the News

Adding value to farm commodities can ease supply chain strain

Missouri’s FAPRI releases annual US agricultural outlook report 

Oklahoma Farm Report 

Russian invasion of Ukraine could boost US farm incomes

Brownfield Ag News 

Farms discover impact on grain from Ukraine-Russia conflict during farm expo in Salina 

The Topeka Capital Journal

Think tank sees highest annual food inflation rate in 14 years

Successful Farming 

These are the foods skyrocketing in price, experts say

Yahoo! Lifestyle 

Opening CRP ground for ag use would benefit cattle, not crops

Brownfield Ag News 

Volatility runs high ahead of key USDA reports 


Maple syrup producers in the lower Midwest tap into small, local markets

Nebraska Public Media