GAINESVILLE, Fla. — To say this year’s economy has been less than robust would be an understatement.
But with the forces of peer pressure and marketing as strong as ever, many parents find themselves trying to trim children’s lengthy wish lists without dampening their enthusiasm — or putting the family finances in jeopardy, and University of Florida experts have plenty of helpful tips.
First and foremost, says Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences extension agent Alicia Betancourt: It’s not about the presents.
“What kids really want, in all honesty, what they remember from year to year, is the time that’s spent together,” said Betancourt, based in Monroe County. “Focus more on family traditions, or creating new ones — whether it’s making cookies, going caroling or taking in a play.”
Betancourt suggests taking children to browse the toy store, so that they see for themselves that toys are often much smaller and less exciting than TV ads make them seem.
Kids of all ages can be asked, if not to shorten a wish list, to point to the two or three gifts they’re most excited about, she said.
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida researchers have shown that the disease that threatens to devastate the world’s citrus crop is almost certainly the result of a lone species of bacteria, and not that of a combination of bacterial or viral pathogens as some have feared.
Using three types of next-generation genetic analysis, researchers from UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences examined inner bark from Florida citrus trees infected with citrus greening.
While the team conclusively found the genetic fingerprint of the bacteria commonly suspected to be behind the disease, Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus, the analysis showed no other DNA of suspect viral or bacterial pathogens.
The research, published in the December issue of the journal Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions, is important because the disease has been especially difficult to analyze, said Eric Triplett, chairman of UF’s department of microbiology and cell sciences and lead researcher on the study.
Normally, researchers would prove that the bacteria is behind the disease by capturing a sample of the bacteria, growing it in a petri dish, and then inserting it into a healthy tree to see if it causes the disease.
However, scientists have not yet found a way to get the bacteria to grow in a petri dish. This means that scientists are having trouble using their normal approaches to researching the pathogen.
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — An outbreak of food-related illness, such as E. coli-tainted spinach, often leaves food safety experts scratching their heads over the source of the contamination.
Thanks to a new computer model developed by researchers at the University of Florida, Wageningen University and the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, food safety experts may have a better chance of predicting where contamination risks lie and what can be done to minimize those risks.
The program, dubbed COLIWAVE, can predict the growth and death of pathogenic bacteria in substances like compost, soil and water. The program uses variables such as oxygen availability, temperature and substance characteristics to predict how much bacteria is present at different periods of time.