Dogwoods are one of the most popular landscape trees in the American South, but little is known about the genetics of these spring-blooming beauties.Researchers at the University of Georgia are hoping to recruit an army of citizen scientists this spring to help collect data that will help them better understand genetic variation among dogwood trees.Residents from across the Southeast are asked to help with the Dogwood Genome Project now that the trees are starting to bloom in Athens, Georgia, and across the state. Anyone with a smartphone is encouraged to download a specialized app and start recording the characteristics of their neighborhood trees.To help, register as a volunteer observer with the USA National Phenology Network’s Nature’s Notebook and then collect data on the appearance of flowers, leaves and fruits on dogwood trees. After registering as an observer, dogwood lovers and science enthusiasts can collect data through an app that is available in both the Apple and Android stores. The National Phenology Network is a partner with the UGA Dogwood Genome Project. More information can be found at www.usanpn.org/nn/dogwood_genome.”This information is especially important for developing projections for how dogwood populations will respond to a changing environment,” said UGA Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources Professor C.J. Tsai.The Dogwood Genome Project started more than a year ago with a $1.4 million grant from the National Science Foundation to researchers at UGA, North Carolina State University and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service. This team is sequencing the genome of a popular dogwood variety commonly known as ‘Appalachian Spring’ and is also comparing sequences among other dogwood varieties, as well as trees sampled from natural populations.”By helping us document the timing of flowering and bud break for flowering dogwoods on campus, citizen scientists can have a real impact on our understanding of the genetic architecture of these traits,” said Jim Leebens-Mack, a UGA professor of plant biology and the project lead.Horticulturists will also use the phenology and genomic data to guide their breeding programs and produce more beautiful and robust dogwoods. One of the most important aims of the project is to identify genes that provide some dogwoods with natural resistance to fungal diseases like powdery mildew, which twists and deforms the leaves of the tree. Powdery mildew not only makes the trees less attractive, but it can also significantly weaken the tree’s ability to collect the sunlight needed for photosynthesis.Dogwoods account for nearly 10 percent of the retail market for flowering trees in the U.S., which tops $343 million annually, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.
This is breaking news. Please check back here for updates. First-time claims for unemployment insurance continued a modest trend down last week, though the total remains well above what was considered normal prior to the coronavirus pandemic and was a touch higher than Wall Street estimates.The Labor Department reported Thursday that 751,000 U.S. workers filed for benefits, compared to 758,000 from the week before. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones had been expecting 741,000. This was the third straight week that claims were below 800,000, and the four-week moving average fell to 787,000.- Advertisement – – Advertisement – At the same time, the total for those receiving benefits showed a sharp decline, falling by 1.15 million to 21.5 million. For the same period in 2019, there were 1.44 million people getting benefits, reflecting just how deep the jobless problem remains in the coronavirus pandemic era.The insured unemployment rate, which is a simple computation of those receiving benefits against the total workforce, fell 0.3 percentage points to 5%. The headline unemployment rate, which includes multiple other factors, is expected to edge lower to 7.7% from the 7.9% level in September.Illinois saw the biggest weekly increase in claims, climbing 23,200 to 53,138, according to unadjusted data. Kansas, Kentucky, Ohio and Pennsylvania all reported gains of more than 3,000. Massachusetts reported the biggest decline at 9,055 while Florida, Georgia and Michigan also reported substantial decreases.- Advertisement – The numbers come a day before the government’s official nonfarm payrolls report, which is expected to show a gain of 530,000 in October. However, this week’s report is not part of the survey week the Bureau of Labor Statistics uses to compute the monthly number.Claims have been trending lower since the late-March peak of 6.9 million but remain elevated by historical standards. The pre-pandemic peak was 695,000 in October 1982.Continuing claims fell for the sixth straight week, this time by 538,000 to nearly 7.3 million. However, part of the reason for that was the continued migration from those losing benefits into the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Assistance program, which saw its rolls increase by 277,564 to 3.96 million. Continuing claims are delayed by a week.- Advertisement –