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Graduate student receives Sustainable Agriculture Research project grant
Southern Sustainable Ag Research & Education grant Tiana Blackmon

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

STEPHENVILLE, Texas—A $9,040 grant to fund sustainable agriculture research was awarded to Tiana Blackmon, a recent graduate of Tarleton’s undergraduate agronomy and range management program.

The administrative council of the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SARE) program awarded the funding, which is part of efforts to assist graduate and PhD students enrolled at accredited institutions throughout the southern region.

Blackmon’s proposed research project will examine condensed tannins in forage crops as a defense against herbivory—the process in which plants are consumed—both simulated and by insect in a controlled greenhouse environment. The incoming graduate student expects to conclude her research within the coming year under the supervision of professor and Texas A&M AgriLife agronomist Dr. James Muir, professor Dr. David Kattes, professor Dr. Roger Wittie and Dr. Barry Lambert, dean of the College of Graduate Studies.

“It’s important to note that students are expected to write the grants, and acquisition is extremely competitive,” said Muir. “The grant amount itself may not be large but, when combined with other sources, it can have a multiplicative effect.”

“Plants will be grown in a greenhouse environment from seed and randomly assigned herbivory type (simulated or insect) and level of defoliation,” Blackmon explained. “Half of the plants will be removed for analyses. The remaining plants will be allowed time for regrowth and then exposed to herbivory a second time before being analyzed. We will determine if herbivory can be manipulated to increase CT concentrations in forage crops sold for their secondary metabolite properties.

Blackmon says studies have been conducted on the relationship between condensed tannins and herbivory, but have not focused on plant response. “We hypothesize that the plants will differentiate between simulated and insect herbivory. This knowledge can be used to manipulate CT concentrations in forage crops grown specifically for their anthelmintic or methane-suppression properties,” she added.

“The SARE grant offers recognition and confidence in my research which is greatly appreciated,” said Blackmon. “This will help me to procure supplies and divide the workload so that I may accomplish tasks more efficiently throughout this endeavor. I am excited to explore plant responses to herbivory and look forward to sharing my findings with Tarleton, the scientific community and the general public.”

Tarleton State University, a member of The Texas A&M University System, provides a student-focused, value-driven educational experience marked by academic innovation and exemplary service and dedicated to transforming students into tomorrow’s professional leaders. With campuses in Stephenville, Fort Worth, Waco, Midlothian and online, Tarleton engages with its communities to provide real-world learning experiences and to engage societal needs while maintaining its core values of integrity, leadership, tradition, civility, excellence and service.


Contact: Kurt Mogonye

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Southern Sustainable Ag Research & Education grant

Tiana Blackmon