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Food Security, WA


The objectives of this project fall into two overarching categories: (1) evaluating potential climate change effects on Pacific Northwest (PNW) agriculture and estimating what can be produced in the tremendously varied microclimates in the PNW as climate changes due to predicted global warming effects, and (2) developing local expertise to examine food safety issues that pertain to locally produced foods. To accomplish this, we solicited projects from experiment station scientists and selected four for inclusion in this Special Research Grant.


Consequently, the objectives for this first year of this USDA Special Research Grant are as follows.<OL> <LI> Developing wheat varieties that perform well under very low rainfall conditions that are anticipated in the PNW as a result of climate change: (a) enhance the PNW spring wheat breeding germplasm by crossing to highly drought-resistant germplasm developed by international programs and advancing generations under severe drought conditions; (b) develop and test facultative wheat varieties that can be planted in the late fall, winter, or early spring so they do not have to be planted to deep moisture and can be planted any time moisture becomes sufficient to ensure a good crop. Such lines should not require vernalization and should have cold tolerance similar to winter wheats; (c) associate physiological traits with tolerance to specific drought-stress environments; and (d) construct several wheat QTL mapping populations to allow future marker assisted breeding and germplasm characterization. <LI>Improving the microbiological safety of fresh produce and fruit produced in the PNW: (a) develop a new intervention to control E. coli 0157:H7, L. monocytogenes, and S. typhimurium during storage; and (b) develop a new intervention to control E. coli 0157:H7, L. monocytogenes, and S. typhimurium during transportation. <LI>Understanding factors influencing the growth of L. monocytogenes on ready-to-eat (RTE) aquatic foods: (a) develop new packaging and processing methods to prevent Listeria sp. contamination of aquatic foods by examining the effect of modified atmosphere packaging methods, antimicrobial dips, edible film coatings, and storage temperatures on RTE hot and cold smoked salmon; (b) develop the basis for a spectroscopic sensor for Listeria sp. detection based on infrared spectral features and how spectral properties are affected by cell injury caused by environmental stresses and antimicrobial treatments. <LI> With the central hypothesis that polymer processing technologies can be used to improve food safety and food quality properties of synthetic and bio-based plastic packages to meet the requirements of new processing technologies and of modified atmosphere packaging: (a) develop synthetic and bio-based packages with improved mechanical and barrier properties using novel polymer processing technologies such as nanocomposites, lamination, and coatings; and (b) evaluate the integrity of newly developed packaging with advanced processing technologies such as microwave and high hydrostatic pressure, and for use in modified atmosphere packaging.

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NON-TECHNICAL SUMMARY: Climate change is predicted to create the need for new cropping systems as weather patterns alter the historic rainfall and temperature patterns across the globe. In the Pacific Northwest, the eastern portion of Washington and Oregon and the northern portion of Idaho have been noted as an area with exceptionally productive cereal production despite reliance on naturally provided moisture. Some predictions for change in climate suggest that the historic patterns of rainfall will change, probably becoming more episodic, which will lead to the need for more drought-resistant cereals and for varieties that are more flexible in their use among winter and spring, wet and dry, conditions. Climate change, transportation fuel costs, and societal preferences are reinforcing the growing public sentiment to consume locally produced fruits, vegetables, seafood, etc. Timeless arguments for national security have included the need for food security as an important element. Among the challenges of the increasing consumption of locally produced foods is the need to preserve them in a near fresh-like condition and to do so with little or no microbiological risk. Four sub-projects address these issues. The primary justification for these projects is the need to focus scientific effort on food security issues; and, as such, this Special Research Grant will be used to bring scientists together and provide modest resources to launch this important research effort.

<P>APPROACH: (1) Selected wheat lines have already performed reasonably well in Washington, and we are hoping that they have genes that will contribute to Pacific Northwest germplasm without introducing too many undesirable traits. Five parental lines have been selected from initial parents crossed with Washington State University varieties. Individual plants will be weighed and the highest-yielding plants will be selected for advancement in the breeding program. Individual plants will have a wider range of maturity, but individual plants will be selected based on grain yield. Two to three hundred plants will be selected from each cross. Individual lines will be screened for cold and drought tolerant lines. Once lines are developed they will be segregated for drought resistance traits. Promising crosses will be used to map the genes conferring drought resistance. <P>(2) E. coli will be obtained from inoculate surfaces of various fruits and vegetables. E. coli will be cultured in Tryptic Soy Broth and sprayed on fruits and vegetables. These fruits and vegetables will be tested in a sealed cabinet with antimicrobial aerosols. Samples will be taken at 10 min, 30 min, and 60 min and viability will be determined. Tests will be performed at room and refrigeration temperatures. The treatment sample will be placed in a stomacher, then put in D/E Broth (Difco) and homogenized for 2 min. Afterwards samples will be diluted with sterile buffered peptone water and aliquots will be spread-plated onto selective agar. Five different plastic containers will be treated in a full-scaled commercial trailer, placed 30 cm above the floor.<P> (3) E. coli and L. monocytogenes will be tested on aquatic food products using a culture cocktail. Strains will be inoculated into sterile tryptic soy broth (TSB) containing 1% yeast extract and incubated for 20 hours at 37C then the cultures will be combined for 30 min. After washing, these will be applied to fish. Ten grams of fish will be placed in a sterile Petri dish and air-dried for 10 min in a Biosafety hood with the fan running to remove surface moisture. Throughout the study the moisture, fat, and salt content of the samples will be determined. <P>(4) A flexible packaging will be developed using different polymer processing methods such as nanocomposites, lamination, and coatings. The synthetic plastics such as ethylene vinyl alcohol and polyvinylidene chloride will be combined with nano clay, polypropylene, polyethylene terephthalate, or oxides of silica, aluminum, and titanium to improve the mechanical and barrier properties of flexible packages under high temperature and high pressure processing conditions. The properties of bio-based material such as polylactide will be improved by incorporating nanoparticles in polymer matrices. The packages will be tested under microwave, high hydrostatic pressure processing, and modified atmosphere packaging.

Cavalieri, Ralph
Washington State University
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