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Rogers named interim head of UF/IFAS Citrus Research and Education Center

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Citrus, IFAS, RECs

Michael Rogers2

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The University Florida today named Michael Rogers interim director of the Citrus Research and Education Center in Lake Alfred. The CREC is part of the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

Rogers has a doctorate in entomology from the University of Kentucky and specializes in citrus integrated pest management.  His research has focused on the Asian citrus psyllid, the insect that carries the bacterium that causes citrus greening.

Citrus greening disease starves the tree of nutrients and produces fruits that are green and misshapen — unsuitable for sale as fresh fruit or juice. Most infected trees die within a few years. The disease has affected millions of citrus trees in North America.

“Currently, the survival of the Florida citrus industry is threatened by citrus greening disease, and time is something many growers don’t have,” Rogers said. “The Florida citrus industry is looking to the research and extension programs of the University of Florida, IFAS, to develop and deliver the solutions needed to continue production of Florida’s iconic crop.”

Although current methods to control the spread of citrus greening are limited to the removal and destruction of infected trees, UF/IFAS researchers are working to defeat it on a number of fronts, including trying to eradicate the insect that carries the bacteria, breeding citrus rootstock that shows better greening resistance, testing laboratory treatments that could be used on trees and harnessing steam to treat trees.

Rogers takes the place of Jackie Burns, who becomes UF/IFAS’ dean for research. Both start their new jobs Nov. 1.

“While Dr. Burns leaves the leadership role of CREC director, she will continue to serve the Florida citrus industry, and UF/IFAS as a whole, in an even more important role as dean for research,” Rogers said.  “On behalf of the faculty and staff of the CREC, I thank Dr. Burns for her years of dedicated service to the CREC.”

By Kimberly Moore Wilmoth, 352-294-3302, k.moore.wilmoth@ufl.edu

Sources:      Michael Rogers, 863-956-8801, mrgrs@ufl.edu

UF/IFAS study: Florida’s climate boosts soil-carbon storage, cuts greenhouse emissions

Topic(s): Biocontrols, Conservation, Environment, Forestry, Green Living, IFAS, Pollution

Sabine Grunwald. Associate Professor, Ph.D.  Soil and Water Science.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Warm temperatures and a wet landscape increase soil’s ability to store carbon, which in turn helps mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new University of Florida study covering 45 years of data.

Soil-stored carbon can slow the build-up of carbon-based gases in the atmosphere, a phenomenon believed to be a cause of global climate change. So it’s vital to preserve soil carbon, said Sabine Grunwald, a UF soil and water science professor who led the research.

“The conservation of the ‘black gold’ below our feet, which is not only a natural part of Florida’s soils but also helps to improve our climate and agricultural production, is a hidden treasure,” said Grunwald, a member of the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences faculty. “Soils serve as a natural container to hold carbon that would otherwise be emitted into the atmosphere as greenhouse gases that accelerate global climate change.”

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UF/IFAS researcher continues quest for peanut that won’t cause allergic reaction

Topic(s): Families and Consumers, Food Safety, IFAS, New Technology, Research

Wade Yang, an assistant professor in UF?s food science and human nutrition department, left, and graduate student Sandra Shriver, use pulsed ultraviolet light to reduce allergens in peanuts in Yang's laboratory in Gainesville, Fla., on April 15, 2011. The technique has been shown to significantly reduce the allergenic potential of peanuts by up to 90 percent. IFAS photo by Tyler L. Jones

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A University of Florida scientist has moved one step closer to his goal of eliminating 99.9 percent of peanut allergens by removing 80 percent of them in whole peanuts.

Scientists must eliminate peanut allergens below a certain threshold for patients to be safe, said Wade Yang, an assistant professor in food science and human nutrition and member of UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

If Yang can cut the allergens from 150 milligrams of protein per peanut to below 1.5 milligrams, 95 percent of those with peanut allergies would be safe. It’s challenging to eliminate all peanut allergens, he said, because doing so may risk destroying peanuts’ texture, color, flavor and nutrition. But he said he’s using novel methods like pulsed light to reach an allergen level that will protect most people.

Yang, whose study is published online in this month’s issue of the journal Food and Bioprocess Technology, cautioned that he has done peanut allergen experiments only in a laboratory setting so far. He hopes to eventually conduct clinical trials on animals and humans.

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Nair named Fellow of Soil Science Society of America  

Topic(s): Honors and Appointments

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida Professor Vimala Nair has been named a Fellow of the Soil Science Society of America, the highest recognition of the association.

“Members of the society nominate worthy colleagues based on their professional achievements and meritorious service,” said Jan W. Hopmans, SSSA president. “Less than one percent of the society’s 6,000 active and emeritus members may be elected fellow.”

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North Florida REC to unveil new cattle fence and gates at Beef/Forage Day

Topic(s): Announcements, Livestock, RECs

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — North Florida ranchers are being prodded to attend this year’s annual Beef and Forage Day at the University of Florida’s North Florida Research and Education Center in Marianna on Friday, Oct. 3.

All things bull and cow, along with what to feed them, will be discussed.  In addition, REC leaders will be showing off a new $275,000 cattle fence and gate. The Florida Cattlemen’s Association helped secure the project’s funding from state legislators.

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UF/IFAS team part of NSF effort to study least understood, oldest fungi

Topic(s): Research
 Spinellus fusiger shown growing on the mushroom Mycena capillaripes. Photograph by Darvin DeShazer.

 

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – A University of Florida team is part of a group of scientists from 11 institutions that will tackle some very ancient history as part of a National Science Foundation-funded project to understand the evolution of zygomycetes, fungi thought to be among the first terrestrial organisms.

The Zygomycete Geneaology of Life, ZyGoLife for short, is a $2.5 million collaborative research project.

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UF/IFAS faculty members named to ‘40 under 40’ agriculture list

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Crops, Environment, IFAS

Alexa Lamm.  AG-AG ED AND COMMUNICATION Sam hutton

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Two relatively new University of Florida faculty members have earned Vance Publishing’s second annual 40 Under 40 Award, which recognizes those making a significant contribution to America’s food system.

Alexa Lamm and Sam Hutton work for UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and graduated from UF’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. Two other CALS graduates made the list: Ben Butler, who earned a bachelor’s in animal sciences in 2002 and Christy Bratcher, who earned a bachelor’s in 2002 and a master’s in 2004, both in animal sciences.

Lamm has worked as an assistant professor of agricultural education and communication since 2012 and was recently named associate director of the UF/IFAS Center for Public Issues Education. Hutton is an assistant professor of horticultural sciences at the Gulf Coast Research and Education Center in Balm, where he started in 2010.

Lamm and the other honorees were chosen from nearly 200 nominees, said officials with Vance Communications, which publishes agricultural publications nationwide. A six-judge panel with distinguished agricultural careers chose the winners.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, global food production must double by 2050 to head off mass hunger. Vance Publishing is committed to raising awareness to the 2050 Challenge.

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UF/IFAS scientists count record number of threatened crocodile hatchlings

Topic(s): Conservation, Environment, Research, Uncategorized

 

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A record number of American crocodile hatchlings have been counted in the Everglades National Park this summer — a positive development for the threatened species, University of Florida scientists say.

The American crocodile was listed as a federally endangered species in 1975, and while reclassified as threatened in 2007, the species still faces problems from habitat loss and environmental changes.

Frank Mazzotti, a UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences professor, has monitored the South Florida crocodile population since 1978.

This summer, he and his team of researchers that included Michiko Squires, Seth Farris, Rafael Crespo and research coordinator Jeff Beauchamp, caught, marked and released 962 hatchlings within the confines of the national park, a big jump from last summer’s 554.

The total American crocodile hatchlings in Florida this year came to 1,447, over last year’s 1,006, including those found in the park, Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Key Largo and Florida Power and Light Company Turkey Point power plant site.

Mazzotti cautioned that the numbers aren’t proof that ecosystem restoration efforts are working, but he believes the correlation suggests they are.

The coastline of Everglades National Park, prime habitat for the American crocodile, was largely untouched by humans until the early 20th century. But a network of canals was dug to drain water from the marshes to make the area suitable for agriculture and residential development, which triggered environmental changes, such as increased inland salinity.

And crocodiles, extremely sensitive to environmental changes such as salinity and water levels, suffered. High salinities stress hatchling crocodiles directly, and high salinity and high water levels limit availability of prey.

Restoration plans to plug coastal canals in the national park aim to prevent salt water intrusion and fresh water losses to tide.

“What we hope is the lesson is that ecosystem restoration efforts can work. If the signal is correct here, we can monitor that improvement by looking at ecological responses – and crocodiles make good indicators,” Mazzotti said.

Crocodiles, as a species, are some 200 million years old. They can live for decades, can survive long periods without food and can eat almost anything. They have complex social relationships and are known to be quick learners.

Contacts

Writer: Mickie Anderson, 352-273-3566, mickiea@ufl.edu

Source: Frank Mazzotti, 954-577-6338, fjma@ufl.edu

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