By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
OKLAHOMA CITY – Andres Espindola Camacho, an assistant research professor with Oklahoma State University’s Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology and the Institute for Biosecurity and Microbial Forensics, has been recognized for his agricultural research efforts by the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR).
Espindola Camacho was one of eight researchers to recently receive the New Innovator in 2019 Food and Agriculture Research Award.
The honor is granted to early career scientists supporting research in one of FFAR’s six challenge areas, which include: soil health, sustainable water management, next generation crops, advanced animal systems, urban food system, and health agriculture nexus.
The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, a nonprofit organization originally established by bipartisan congressional support in the 2014 Farm Bill, builds partnerships to support innovative science addressing food and agriculture challenges.
Award-winners will receive a total of more than $1.7 million over three years from FFAR, with matching funds from each recipient’s respective institution doubling the overall investment to almost $3.5 million.
Espindola Camacho’s research has focused on mechanisms that involve testing for key crops. His is team has developed Microbe Finder (MiFiâ), a technique that permits fast and accurate multi-pathogen detection in a short amount of time.
The OSU website states, Andres’ research uses cutting-edge, high-throughput sequencing to explain what affects plant health. His work is sequencing a plant’s microbiome, a collection of bacteria, viruses and fungi that live on a plant, to determine those organisms that positively or negatively impact the plant.
“My research focuses on developing molecular and bioinformatic techniques to improve the detection of pathogens and other microbes that influence plant systems,” Espindola Camacho said.
“Currently, I use high-throughput sequencing to determine their precision in the simultaneous detection of plant pathogens and other microorganisms that affect plant health.
“Simultaneous plant pathogen detection allows us to make faster decisions for the pest management of economically important crops. Healthier crops mean high productivity and higher economic yields to growers, as well as the end consumer who pays for quality products,” he added.
According to Espindola Camacho, the grant has allowed him to expand his research scope to wheat and focus on the soil microbiome, which is considered a key component of plant health and productivity.
“This grant builds upon my previous research because we’ll evaluate the full rhizosphere microbiome using MiFiâ. Studying how other microorganisms affect plant health will allow other questions, like which microbes have a more significant effect on either wheat productivity or the overall plant health,” he said.
Phil Mulder, professor and head of OSU’s Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, said, “The success of Espindola Camacho, as an OSU alumnus, shows how the institution is able to generate talent that continuously brings effective solutions to producers.
“Dr. Espindola Camacho has brought tangible and applied solutions to agriculture. His contributions to science have enhanced OSU’s prestige in agricultural research,” Mulder continued.
Other New Innovator in Food and Agriculture Research awardees include Jared Ali, Pennsylvania State University; Jessica Cooperstone, Ohio State University; Paul Dyce, Auburn University; Landon Marston, Kansas State University; Nathan Mueller, Colorado State University; Neha Potnis, Auburn University; and Susan Whitehead, Virginia Tech.
“Preparing for the next frontier of agricultural innovation starts with investing in today’s scientific workforce,” said Sally Rockley, FFAR executive director.
“We’re thrilled to support emerging superstars in food and agriculture research as they develop cutting-edge strategies to revolutionize food production, processing and distribution.”
FFAR leverages public and private resources to increase the scientific and technological research, innovation, and partnerships critical to enhancing sustainable production of nutritious food for a growing global population.
More information regarding the Oklahoma State University Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources can be found here.