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IFAS News

University of Florida

UF/IFAS researcher using “precision breeding” to create disease-resistant grapes

Topic(s): Agriculture, Cultivars, IFAS, Research
UF/IFAS developmental biologist Dennis Gray looks at the progress of grapevines in a vineyard. Photo by UF/IFAS

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Apopka, Fla. — Powdery mildew and black rot are two scourges of grape growers, but University of Florida researcher Dennis Gray is developing disease-resistant grapes, using what he calls “precision breeding” to create these super varieties.

Gray, a developmental biologist with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, has successfully bred Thompson Seedless, Seyval Blanc and Syrah that resist mildew and fungus. Those are just three of only 35 grape varieties that accounted for 66 percent of the world grape acreage in 2014, he said. (more …)

New citrus variety trial options for Florida growers

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Citrus, Crops, Cultivars, IFAS, Research

CITRUS VARIETIES - Gmitter's latest 051215CITRUS VARIETIES - UFSunrise 051115

MAITLAND, Fla. – The New Varieties Development & Management Corporation has scheduled statewide grower meetings for May to launch FAST TRACK’s third suite of UF/IFAS-developed experimental citrus selections.

This new suite features four seedless easy-peel mandarin selections: UFGlow, UFSunrise, UFDawn and 7-6-27.

In addition, the UFGlow, UFSunrise and UFDawn varieties are mess-free – meaning your hands remain dry — early maturing and cold tolerant. Variety 7-6-27 has generated greater interest than any previous UF mandarin release at UF’s Citrus Research and Education Center Fruit Display Days, both in-state and internationally, as a result of its very early season of maturity, excellent color and flavor, and a potentially higher degree of tolerance to citrus greening.

Interested commercial citrus growers should plan to attend one of the meetings. A presentation will explain details about the program and registration documentation will be distributed. Representatives from the UF/IFAS Plant Improvement Team and the Florida Foundation Seed Producers Inc. also will be present. Citrus Extension agents are encouraged to attend.

(more …)

UF/IFAS scientists zero in on Brown Dog Tick control

Topic(s): Entomology and Nematology, Environment, Extension, Families and Consumers, Household Pests, IFAS, Pests, Research

A petri dish contains several brown dog ticks, a species researchers believe has become resistant to the most commonly used pesticides.  UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones.

Brown Dog Ticks

click here for video: http://bit.ly/1PujWam

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – A little pest can really tick off dogs and their owners.

In addition to homeowners and canines, the pesticide industry has also been trying to find a way to vanquish the Brown Dog Tick for years.

But help is on the way, courtesy of University of Florida scientists.

Dogs and their owners who battle the Brown Dog Tick sometimes go to desperate measures ─ including getting rid of their dogs, fumigating their homes, throwing many possessions out or even moving ─ to control the pesky bugs, which breed indoors and hide in places that are practically impossible to reach.

Phil Kaufman, an associate professor of veterinary entomology at UF/IFAS, is one of several investigators who have just published two studies. One shows the tick is resistant to the most commonly used chemical applied directly between the dog’s shoulder blades. The other shows the effectiveness of carbon dioxide as a lure for baiting ticks to bed bug traps.

(more …)

Dealing with Florida’s rare tick diseases

Topic(s): Extension, Families and Consumers, Household Pests, IFAS, Pests, Research

TICK DISEASES 051815

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Though uncommon, Floridians can get tick diseases.

“The biggest myth about tick-borne diseases is that every tick carries the Lyme disease pathogen, when in fact, only one tick species in the Eastern U.S. is capable of transmitting the pathogen, Ixodes scapularis, the black-legged or deer tick,” said Phil Kaufman, a University of Florida veterinary entomologist.

Kaufman, an associate professor at the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, cited three tick-borne diseases we should know about. Those diseases are:

  •  Lyme disease: In Florida, 673 cases of Lyme disease were reported from 2002 to 2011, according to the Florida Department of Health. That’s only 67 cases per year, compared to 27,000 cases in the U.S. in 2013. Of the Florida cases, 77 percent were acquired by people when traveling to other states.
  •  Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever: In Florida, the reported incidence has increased markedly in recent years, possibly due to increased disease awareness and reporting, Kaufman said. Some 163 cases of the fever were reported from 2002 through 2011, and 77 percent were acquired in Florida. Again, most were in north and central Florida. Cases of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever are reported year-round, though peak transmission is typically during the summer.
  •  Ehrlichiosis (HME)/Anaplasmosis (HGE):  In Florida, 89 cases of Ehrlichiosis/HME were reported from 2002 through 2011. Of those, 33 cases of Anaplasmosis/HGA were reported. The majority of HME cases – 73 percent — are reported as being acquired in Florida, primarily in the north and central parts of the state. Like Lyme disease, HGA has less than half — 45 percent — of cases classified as Florida-acquired.

(more …)

UF/IFAS study: Tiny wasp controls nuisance whitefly

Topic(s): Agriculture, Biocontrols, Economics, Environment, Pests, Research

WHITE FLIES 051415

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A wasp the size of a pin head may control the nuisance Rugose spiraling whitefly, which leaves a sticky white mess that becomes covered in black mold on everything from plants to cars and pools, University of Florida scientists say.

“Although the Rugose spiraling whitefly damages plants, what really gets people worked up is that it’s a huge nuisance because it makes a mess,” said Catharine Mannion, an entomology professor at the UF/IFAS Tropical Research and Education Center in Homestead, Florida. “You get a sooty mold on everything. It’s hard to get pools cleaned. People start chopping their trees down.”

But a new breakthrough shows the tiny wasp encarsia noyesi reduces the population of the Rugose spiraling whitefly, according to a new UF/IFAS-led study funded by the Farm Bill, through the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

(more …)

Citizen science projects invite Florida residents to get involved

Topic(s): Agriculture, Entomology and Nematology, Environment, Families and Consumers, Household Pests, IFAS, Invasive Species, Pests

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Have you always wanted to see what real, college-level, science research projects are like – and maybe even participate in one? Now is your chance with the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences’ annual Bug Week.

Citizen science projects are a great way for kids of any age to help researchers in Florida – and throughout the country – understand what is taking place in their own neighborhoods. The projects can involve bug or animal counts, capturing specimens or creating habitats and reporting what shows up.

“Citizen science is a win-win for everyone involved,” said Andrea Lucky, an evolutionary biologist and biodiversity scientist with UF’s Department of Entomology and Nematology. “Participants have the opportunity to get involved in ongoing research and learn about the process of science and, at the same time, scientists benefit from partnering with diverse audiences.” (more …)

Two UF/IFAS agricultural engineering faculty earn high global honors

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Conservation, Environment, Honors and Appointments, IFAS

Rafael Munoz-Carpena.  Associate Professor, PhD.  Agricultural and Biological Engineering.  Email: carpena@ufl.edu

Munoz-Carpena

ABE AWARDS 051315 - McLamore

McLamore

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Two faculty members in the UF/IFAS Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering have won prestigious global awards for outstanding contributions to their field.

One has also been elected to an advisory panel to the government of Spain.

Professor Rafael Muñoz-Carpena, has won the 2015 Hancor Soil and Water Engineering Award for “accomplishments in hydrological and integrated environmental modeling and education of next-generation soil and water scientists and engineers.”

Muñoz-Carpena, who specializes in hydrology and water quality, remembers when, as a doctoral student at North Carolina State University, his mentor, Wayne Skaggs, won the award. Skaggs later became a member of the National Academy of Sciences. Skaggs “is one of the fathers of modern agricultural drainage,” says Muñoz-Carpena.

The Hancor award means every bit as much to Muñoz-Carpena now.

“It has additional meaning to me,” he said, because his former mentor won the award. “It’s recognition of your work among peers. The fact that I got it surprises me.”

(more …)

UF/IFAS is all about the bugs during Bug Week 2015, May 18-23

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Biocontrols, Environment, Families and Consumers, Household Pests, IFAS, Invasive Species, Lawn & Garden, Pests

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The University of Florida campus is aflutter with activity as it gears up for Bug Week 2015, with various online and campus activities for students of all ages and their families.

“Bugs are serious business in Florida,” said Jack Payne, UF senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources. “Learning about bugs, though, should be fun. That’s why we have Bug Week.”

Bug Week 2015 is scheduled for May 18-23. To get started, check out the Bug Week website at http://bugs.ufl.edu/. UF/IFAS has a number of online resources there to explore including bug photos, feature stories, and the popular “Bug of the Day” and “Bug Word of the Day” items. Citizen science projects – in which anyone can participate – are spotlighted on the website, along with videos about everything from ants and butterflies to spiders and ticks. (more …)

New Sea Grant specialist aims to keep Gulf seafood safe

Topic(s): Aquaculture, Extension, Families and Consumers, Food Safety, Research, Safety

George Baker.  Assistant Scientist. Food Science and Human Nutrition.

George Baker

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — George Baker hopes to help ensure Gulf seafood remains safe to consume.

As the new seafood safety specialist for Florida Sea Grant, Baker will primarily give seafood processors the best scientific data from the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and other sources.

He’ll train processors and others in seafood safety. Baker wants to help develop methods to detect chemical compounds that would hinder seafood safety, and he hopes to generate and disseminate basic nutritional information or analysis.

“Working with seafood can be very exciting and quite challenging,” said Baker, who, in addition to his new Sea Grant position, will retain his appointment as an assistant professor in food science and human nutrition at UF/IFAS. “It seems that there are far more safety issues associated with seafood in the news or on the web than other food commodities like meat and poultry or produce. However, it’s my opinion that, unless you have a seafood-related allergy, seafood is as just as safe, or safer, than other food.”

(more …)

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