Environment and Sustainability Features and Impacts

Since 1955, the Great Lakes Fishery Commission has spent millions of dollars annually attempting to control sea lamprey populations in the Great Lakes. In 2005, Peter Sorensen and his team discovered, identified and synthesized petromyzonamine disulfate and freely licensed its use to the GLFC. To date, sea lamprey is the only example of a successful aquatic vertebrate pest control program at an ecosystem scale in the world.

Over 1000 attended the National Climate Adaptation Forum in Saint Paul, MN. The forum provided an excellent opportunity for professionals from the private and public sectors to share information and solutions around how to best prepare for and respond to the effects of climate change.

Scientists used data from the comprehensive GlobRespdatabase and merged it with existing computer models of global land carbon cycling in order to more accurately determine sources of carbon dioxide release and discovered that plant respiration has been a potentially underestimated source of carbon dioxide release.

UMN researchers participated in a multi-year and multistate experiment on soil functional zone management (SFZM) in corn and soybean systems that examined both ridge-till and chisel-plow tillage systems both with and without a rye cover crop and compared plant growth, yield, nutrient status, soil attributes and greenhouse gas emissions.

UMN researchers have been working on developing a system to turn scum into biodiesel. Their aim is to streamline the disposal process of scum, while maximizing biodiesel output, moving toward complete utilization of liquid and solid wastes.

Soybean aphid (Aphis glycines) has been wreaking havoc on Midwest soybeans since it was first discovered in 2000. While careful management practices have helped keep yields up, the possibility of aphids having resistance to insecticides remains a key concern. 

Pandas are one of most beloved and most endangered animals on the planet but their future is far from certain. U of M researchers, using genetic analysis methods often used for livestock, analyzed wild and captive panda populations in China.

Euarasian watermilfoil has long been a concern for aquatic invasive species professionals, but researchers at the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center were interested to see what was happening with Hybrid watermilfoil in Minnesota's lakes. Two key questions they had: (1) How different is the genetic makeup of Northern watermilfoil (a native plant), Eurasian watermilfoil and Hybrid watermilfoil? and (2) Can we use the same control techniques we use for Eurasian watermilfoil to control Hybrid watermilfoil?

U of M researchers in the Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering wanted to find a solution to the long-term issue of high levels of mercury concentrations in some Minnesota waters. Building on research done with nanoparticles, they developed a sponge that can remove over 99.9 percent of mercury for contaminated water.

Insect pollinators provide essential services to growers of US fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds and honeybees are their star performer accounting for over two-thirds of the agricultural output attributed to insect pollination. Research projects and extension programs are uncovering new information to help Minnesotans protect this essential insect.