Save Our Soybeans
What does agriculture look like under a microscope?
Assistant Professor of Biology Punya Nachappa is finding out. Nachappa studies interactions between insects, diseases, and plant life at the molecular level to help regional farmers protect their fields.
Combatting a New Strain
Nachappa’s research is focused on soybean aphids and soybean thrips, which are tiny bugs known to transmit diseases to crops right here in Indiana. One of the diseases Nachappa is currently studying is a brand-new strain of soybean virus—so new, in fact, that it only surfaced within the last decade.
This particular strain has been devastating soybean crops throughout the north-central Midwestern states, including in Indiana. Nachappa is at the forefront of the research needed by farmers to control and prevent its spread.
Traditionally, farmers employ pesticides to combat the spread of disease among their crops. However, insects can develop resistances to pesticides, rendering them ineffective and counterproductive. Nachappa hopes that by understanding these diseases and the insects that carry them at the molecular level, she can find new and innovative responses to them.
Nachappa’s research also investigates how large-scale environmental conditions impact insect behavior and fecundity, along with crop production and yield.
Utilizing gene expression and transcriptomic analysis, Nachappa is able to better understand how aphids and thrips, and the pathogens they carry and transmit, are affecting farmers’ yields—and hopefully, how to prevent serious ecological and agricultural consequences.
Partnerships with Industry
Nachappa’s research is partially funded through a partnership with the Indiana Soybean Alliance. As part of this program, she has opportunities to interact directly with regional soybean growers and present her research to those who need it most.
This partnership has propelled Nachappa’s research to national attention.
A Full Laboratory
Nachappa makes a special effort to include students in her research. She’s quick to describe the opportunities for students to get involved and join her in her labs, noting that IPFW’s small class sizes allow students to approach her after class and ask to be part of her research.
PROGRAM SNAPSHOT: DEPARTMENT OF Biology
What does life look like under the microscope? In the Department of Biology, you will have rich opportunities to work closely with faculty in research environments and laboratories. Study the science of life the way it should be—up close and personal. We graduate scientists, pharmacists, ecologists, and more. Our programs include biology, medical technology, ecology and evolutionary biology, pre-forestry, pre-agriculture, pre-veterinary, and pre-pharmacy. Learn more.