U.S. Department of Agriculture: Agricultural Research Service, Lincoln, Nebraska


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Agricultural Research 61(7): August 2013; ISSN 0002-161X Solving Problems for the Growing World


It has been said that a picture is worth a thousand words, and at the Agricultural Research Service’s Electron and Confocal Microscopy Unit (ECMU) in Beltsville, Maryland, this adage couldn’t be more true. Led by unit director Gary Bauchan, the ECMU is tasked with producing highresolution images that provide a window to the extraordinary world of the unseen.

“We have observed viruses, bacteria, fungi, nematodes, insects, mites, and parasites that threaten global food security, and we’ve contributed to the discovery of how pathogens spread by helping elucidate their relationship to the environment, hosts, and vectors,” says Bauchan. “We’ve also described new biocontrol agents for the management of pathogens and characterized healthy and infected plant and animal tissues to discern the structural changes caused by pathogens.”

Other ECMU capabilities include tracking the development of genetically transformed plants using fluorescently tagged plant cells and tissues and contributing to improved food safety by determining the mechanisms by which bacteria, fungi, and parasites infect fresh produce.