Agricultural Research Service (ARS) - Midwest Area

Agricultural Research Service (ARS) - Midwest Area

Agency/Department

FLC Region

Security Lab

No

Address

1815 North University Street
Peoria, IL 61604
United States

Laboratory Representative

Description

Agricultural research has a direct impact on our standard of living and the quality of modern life. Our scientists conduct research to develop economically and environmentally sustainable agricultural systems that improve the yield and quality of crops and livestock, improve human health, create crop-based alternatives to petroleum-derived fuels and products, and protect the environment.  If agricultural problems arise such as new pests or diseases of crops or livestock, we have the capacity to respond rapidly to protect the food supply. We in the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), like all Americans, are very concerned about safe and nutritious food.  We develop solutions to reduce food-borne illness and find ways to improve the nutritional value of the food supply.

The Midwest Area of ARS has a long record of achievement in the discovery of new and improved food and non-food products that create new economic opportunities, better nutrition, and "green products for consumers. The National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research (NCAUR) in Peoria, IL was opened in 1940.  Historically, NCAUR is known as the laboratory that developed the process for large-scale production of Penicillin that saved untold lives during World War II and beyond. A few examples of other products/technologies from the lab include Super Slurper, which is an absorbent material in disposable diapers, bio-based sunscreens, soy ink used in newspaper print, Xantham Gum used as salad dressing thickener, healthy oils that replace trans fats, dextran for medical intravenous applications, and a variety of crop-derived industrial products that reduce our dependence on imported petroleum.

We care deeply about the environment.  There are extensive programs in our area focused on preserving and improving soil, air, and water quality. We are finding new and innovative ways to address animal waste management issues, prevent soil erosion and eliminate pesticides from surface and ground water. We are developing agricultural practices that increase soil carbon retention and reduce nitrogen and phosphorus losses from farm land.  Our research helps farmers cope with production challenges associated with changes in climate and precipitation patterns. Our Midwest Climate Hub in Ames, Iowa, plays an important role in communicating and deploying improved climate-resilient production practices that maintain crop yields.

We are just as concerned about animals.  We are finding new ways to monitor and promote health and comfort of livestock to ensure that all farm animals are treated in a humane and caring way.  Our animal health programs develop new and effective vaccines and disease prevention alternatives that improve well-being while reducing the use of antibiotics and the development of antibiotic-resistant pathogens.

These examples represent only a few of the research programs in the Midwest Area and ARS that are dedicated to maintaining and enhancing the economic strength of America agriculture while improving the quality of life for each and every citizen.

Midwest Area research enables the development of environmentally and economically sustainable production systems that provide high quality, nutritious and safe food, and other agricultural products that can be converted to “green” fuel and industrial products that reduce our reliance on imported petroleum.  The Midwest Area consists of ARS programs in 9 states -- Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Iowa, Missouri, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. Research is conducted by over 340 scientists and their respective support staff at 12 locations and 2 large Centers.  The ARS locations are: Bowling Green, KY; Lexington, KY; West Lafayette,  IN; Columbus, OH; Wooster, OH; Urbana, IL; Columbia, MO; Ames, IA; East Lansing, MI; St. Paul, MN; Morris, MN; Madison, WI; National Animal Disease Center, Ames, IA; and National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research, Peoria, IL.

 

Mission

ARS conducts research to develop and transfer solutions to agricultural problems of high national priority and provide information access and dissemination in order to:

  • Ensure high-quality safe food and other agricultural products;
  • Assess the nutritional needs of Americans;
  • Sustain a competitive agricultural economy;
  • Enhance the natural resource base and the environment;
  • Provide economic opportunities for rural citizens, communities, and society as a whole.
  • Provide the infrastructure necessary to create and maintain a diversified workplace.

Research in the Midwest Area addresses these goals.

Available Technologies
Displaying 1 - 10 of 20
A Novel Clostridium Species That Converts Wheat Straw and Switchgrass Hydrolysates Into Butyric Acid
A Transgene Construct To Improve Fusarium Head Blight Resistance In Wheat and Barley
Anti-Corrosion Coating Utilizing Bacterial Precipated Exopolysaccharides
Heavy Metal Remediation Via Modified Bio-Oils
High Oleic Acid Soybean Seeds
Methods and Strains For Producing Bioproducts In Aureobasidium Pullulans
Methods and Yeast Strains for Conversion of Lignocellulosic Biomass To Lipids and Carotenoids
Methods of Producing Calcined Coke From Bio-Oil and Calcined Coke Produced Thereby
Mutated Salmonella Enterica
Nanoparticles and Films Composed of Water-Insoluble

Pages

No Funding for this lab
Programs

Mission:
The mission of the Nutrition, Food Safety and Quality staff is to coordinate and lead ARS research to: define the role of food and its components in optimizing health for all Americans; develop tests and processes that keep the food supply safe; reduce and control pathogens and toxins in agricultural products; and improve the economic viability and competitiveness of American agriculture by enhancing the quality and utilization of agricultural commodities for the benefit of producers and consumers.

• Human Nutrition (NP #107)

• Food Safety (animal and plant products) (NP #108)

• Product Quality and New Uses (NP #306)

Lab Representatives
Facilities
Displaying 1 - 6 of 6
Cereal Crops Research Unit
National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research Pilot Plant
National Soil Erosion Research Lab
Soil Management Research
U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center
U.S. DAIRY FORAGE RESEARCH CENTER
No Equipment for this lab
No publications for this lab
Success Stories

Dextran and Xantham Gum: One Woman's Remarkable Contributions

Science can do more than improve people’s lives; sometimes it can save them.

Consider the contributions of the late Allene Rosalind Jeanes, an Agricultural Research Service (ARS) chemist at what is now the National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research in Peoria, Illinois. Her efforts are particularly worth celebrating this Veteran’s Day.

Jeanes studied polymers (large molecules composed of many repeated subunits) found in corn, wheat and wood. She spent long hours investigating how bacteria could produce polymers in huge fermentation vats. Eventually, she found a way to mass produce dextran, a type of polymer, so that it could be used as a blood volume “expander” to sustain accident and trauma victims who have lost massive amounts of blood and need to get to a hospital for a transfusion.

The technology is credited with saving the lives of numerous battle-wounded Americans in Korea and Vietnam, and is one reason why Jeanes, who died in 1995, is still remembered by some of her former colleagues in Peoria.

“She was a very quiet and very distinguished person, and she happened to be a brilliant scientist who saw the potential for what turned out to be critical work. It is an interesting story,” said ARS chemist George Inglett, who was chief of the research laboratory in Peoria where Jeanes spent her later years.

The annals of history are replete with important discoveries sparked by serendipity, and this present story is no different. This particular serendipity involved—of all things—a batch of bad root beer. Jeanes had been interested in dextran for years, but it was hard to find in quantities large enough for meaningful research. That changed when a soft drink company in Peoria sent Jeanes a sample of their product wanting to know why it had become thick and gooey. The root beer turned out to have been contaminated with a type of bacteria that produced dextran. The discovery of the dextran-producing microbes meant Jeanes could produce all the dextran she needed for research.

Meanwhile, researchers in Sweden and England had been investigating the use of dextran as a potential blood volume expander. While it can’t carry oxygen to vital organs as healthy blood cells do, it might, thought the researchers, temporarily help accident and trauma victims suffering massive blood loss by restoring lost electrolytes and maintaining blood pressure.

When the Korean War broke out in 1950, Jeanes and her colleagues were able to make a dextran-based blood volume expander that the Army put to use. The blood volume expander had many advantages: it could be kept longer than blood plasma without refrigeration, it could be sterilized to prevent infections, it was one-third the cost of plasma and it remained viable in the blood long enough to keep patients alive until they could get a transfusion. It was approved for U.S. military use in 1950 and for civilian use in 1953.

Research would later show that dextran wasn’t perfect and the U.S. Government no longer uses dextran as a blood expander. But at a critical juncture in history—and absent viable alternatives—Jeanes’s discovery saved many lives.

Jeanes and her colleagues also discovered xanthan gum, a polysaccharide (or polymeric carbohydrate molecule) synthesized by bacteria that is used to thicken and improve the consistency of ice cream, salad dressings, lotions, cough syrups and many other products. It is also used in the oil and gas industry to extract fossil fuels from the earth.

Jeanes was awarded 10 patents, produced 60 publications and became the first woman to win the USDA’s Distinguished Service Award in 1953. In 1999, she was posthumously inducted into the ARS Science Hall of Fame. She was also awarded the Garvan Medal from the American Chemical Society in 1956 and the Women’s Service Award from the U.S. Civil Service Commission in 1962.

We should all be thankful for the work done by Jeanes and other scientists like her. They’ve not only helped save lives, but they have also made our lives better with new products and technologies.