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product oriented basic research?

Lorine S Horvath lhorvath at plains.nodak.edu
Tue Apr 1 17:03:52 EST 1997

Just thought I would tap into some of the better minds in the world of
plant biology for some help with a problem my research group is facing.

We have been directed by the USDA to develop a research program that is
based on basic research but which will produce proceedures or products
which will have an immeadiate (less than 5 years) impact (ie. they want
us to come up with a project that will result in something that the
farmer can use in less than 5 years).  Since our group has traditionally
been involved in basic reserach on plant physiology (ie. studying stress
and growth of perennial weeds), this is something of an interesting

Our group is currently comprised of a biochemist, a plant physiologist
specializing in tissue culture, and a molecular bilogist.  We will likely
be hiring two additional scientists within the next year (possibly an
ecologist and a pathologist/biocontrol person).  The specific goal of our
research will be to produce something that will help control perennial
rangeland weeds using what we can learn from basic research in the short

I have brought this problem to the attention of this newsgroup primarily
to spark discussion on the usefulness of basic research in the
development of the applied products/proceedures we all mention in our
grant proposals, and to fish for research ideas that will be interesting
to other scientists but which will still produce short term field
applicable results.

One idea I will float here is the study of insect and pathogen
interactions as they apply to biocontrol (using leafy spurge as a model
system).  This could bring in the study of the signal transduction
crosstalk between wounding response and the PR/SAR systems (which look
like they may be antagonistic to some extent).  A team approach could
lead to the identification of specific practices or combinations of
applying biocontrol agents for maximal effect on specific weed

Any comments on this possible project are welcome as are any additional
ideas for research directions.

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