TYLERTOWN, Miss. -- Cattle producers in Louisiana and Mississippi can learn about animal handling and health issues during the Mississippi/Louisiana Beef and Forage Field Day May 21.

The event begins with registration at 8:45 a.m. at the Livestock Producers Sale Barn on Highway 98 East in Tylertown, Mississippi.

Experts with the Mississippi State University Extension Service and Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station will join industry professionals to discuss low-stress animal handling and new vaccination regulations.

Featured speakers include Dr. Carla Huston of the MSU College of Veterinary Medicine and Heze Early of Merrill pharmaceutical company.

Participants can also view the top-performing bulls from the South Mississippi Gain on Forage Bull Test. These bulls are for sale and can be purchased before, during or after the field day.

A sponsored lunch will be provided, but preregistration is required.

To preregister or for more information, contact Walthall County Extension agent Richard Hay at 601-876-4021 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; or Lincoln County Extension agent Mark Mowdy at 601-835-3460 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Ms. Susan M. Collins-Smith
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A bee feeds on the nectar of the Rhododendron canescens, commonly called pink native azalea, at the Mississippi State University Crosby Arboretum in Picayune, Mississippi. A two-part program will focus on attracting and feeding pollinators with native plants May 21 at the arboretum. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Pat Drackett)

PICAYUNE, Miss. -- Gardening enthusiasts can learn how to attract pollinators during a two-part program at the Mississippi State University Crosby Arboretum on May 21.

Heather Sullivan, a botanist with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, will kick off the program with a habitat walk through the arboretum grounds from 10 to 11 a.m. On the tour, she will focus on the pollinators and native plants in each habitat.

Charles Allen, an author and expert on coastal native plants, will discuss using native plants to attract and feed butterflies and moths. A list of host plants and instructions on installing a moon moth garden will be provided. Allen also will give tips on identifying butterflies and moths and photographing moth species.

Allen’s program begins at 1 p.m. and ends at 2:30 p.m.

Both programs are free to arboretum members and $5 each for nonmembers. Space is limited. To register, call the arboretum at 601-799-2311 by May 20.

For more information about the arboretum or for directions, visit http://www.crosbyarboretum.msstate.edu.

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Dr. Hossam Abdelhamed, a postdoctoral fellow at the Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine, examines an agar plate with bacterial colonies of listeria. A group of researchers at the college, including Abdelhamed, developed a faster, more efficient method of performing genetic studies of listeria, which will help scientists worldwide find ways to better control the pathogen and treat those who become ill. (Photo by MSU College of Veterinary Medicine/Tom Thompson)

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Researchers at the Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine pioneered a technique that can help advance the study of one of the deadliest foodborne bacteria in the United States.

Listeria monocytogenes, the bacterium that causes listeriosis, ranks No. 3 among the top five domestically acquired foodborne pathogens that cause death, according to 2011 estimates by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

MSU researchers developed a faster, more efficient method of performing genetic studies of listeria, which will help scientists worldwide find ways to better control the pathogen and treat those who become ill from the bacterium.

“The study of these bacteria is important because listeria can survive most of the sanitation procedures and conditions that kill other foodborne bacteria,” said Dr. Mark Lawrence, a professor in the Department of Basic Sciences at the MSU College of Veterinary Medicine. “We know it can grow at refrigeration temperatures and can live in high and low acidity. It has a great ability to adapt.

“In the human body, it can cross the gastrointestinal tract and lead to septicemia and meningitis. It also can grow in white blood cells, which normally destroy bacteria in the body,” Lawrence said.

Listeria infection is most dangerous for pregnant women, newborns, immunocompromised individuals and adults over 65 years old. The bacteria can be found in deli meats, smoked seafood, unpasteurized milk, soft cheeses and other products.

For about five years, Lawrence and his colleagues have been working to understand which genes control certain functions in the bacteria. They want to know which ones allow it to attach to surfaces, adapt to different conditions and cross membranes in the human body. To study these abilities, they culture the bacteria, amplify the correct gene and then delete the gene in the listeria genome to examine the effects of the missing gene.

However, the techniques scientists use to delete genes in other bacteria have not worked efficiently for listeria, said Lawrence, who is also an associate dean of research at the college.

“The established method used by listeria researchers required a lot of hours of work and had a low success rate,” he said. “Our team used this method to delete two listeria genes, but we had other genes that we struggled to delete. We knew from talking with other researchers that we all had the same problem.”

Established methods required scientists to go through a process that involved screening hundreds to thousands of bacterial colonies to find the colonies with the correct gene deletion, said Dr. Attila Karsi, associate professor in the Department of Basic Sciences at the college.

“This process might take two to three weeks to find the colony you wanted, which is a very long and costly process,” he said.

The new method developed by the MSU researchers selects colonies of bacteria intended for study in an efficient way, eliminating the need for growing and searching through thousands of colonies.

“With this method of deleting genes, we can focus our energy on fixing the problem,” Lawrence said. “This technique can speed up research for scientists around the world who study listeria. We expect that it will be widely used and become a routine technique.”

By understanding how the bacteria make people sick, adapt to various environments, and attach to surfaces and food products, scientists hope to find ways to kill the bacteria and improve treatments for people who become sick.

“If we can figure out how it sticks to food products and food processing equipment, we can figure out ways to get rid of it,” Lawrence said. “It is not a common enough problem to vaccinate for, but when people are sick, we need better ways to treat it.”

The team has had about 15 requests for the new technique since the research paper detailing the method was presented at a research symposium in early 2015. The paper was published in the journal Plasmid on May 31, 2015, and currently ranks ninth in the most downloaded articles list.

 

Contact: Dr. Mark Lawrence, 662-325-1205; Dr. Attila Karsi, 662-325-0405

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NEWTON, Miss. -- Landowners and producers who want to learn more about alfalfa production can attend a workshop next month in Newton.
The Mississippi State University Coastal Plain Branch Experiment Station will host an alfalfa hay production and equipment demonstration May 19.
The workshop, which begins at 9 a.m. and runs until 3:30 p.m., is divided into morning and afternoon sessions. The morning session will involve presentations on alfalfa establishment, fertility management, harvest methods, pest control and economic analyses. The afternoon session will offer a cutting, baling and wrapping demonstration featuring several manufacturers and local equipment dealers. A lunch will be provided.
America’s Alfalfa is sponsoring the workshop.
To preregister for the free event, contact Jenna Mosely at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 601-683-2084. The station is located at 51 Coastal Plain Road outside of Newton.

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Mr. Robert Nathan Gregory
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