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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — For hundreds of years, farmers in Brazil’s Amazon Basin have hunted through dense jungles for what is called “terra preta” — mysterious plots of super-fertile black soil amid otherwise nutrient-stripped earth.
In recent decades, researchers have discovered that the rich properties of terra preta stem from the carbon-heavy leftovers of ancient cooking sites. Now, University of Florida researchers have found we can make our own version of the soil’s potent component, a form of charcoal dubbed biochar, from the remnants of renewable fuel production.
“This could possibly improve the viability of certain biofuels by giving a valuable — both economically and environmentally – byproduct from material that would otherwise just be a disposal problem,” said Bin Gao, an assistant professor of agricultural and biological engineering at UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. (more …)
Picture of Florida panther courtesy of Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — In 1995, conservation managers made a desperate bid to save the Florida panther from extinction and released eight female pumas imported from Texas in hopes they’d breed with native males.
Fifteen years later, the Florida panther population has increased threefold, and while the species remains in peril, the big cats now have a better chance for survival.
Two new research papers—in the journals Science and Biological Conservation—document the breeding program’s success and outline an unusually long, collaborative effort among agencies. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, National Park Service and the National Cancer Institute’s Laboratory of Genomic Diversity have been conducting field and lab work on panthers since the 1980s. (more …)
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Multimedia available: http://news.ufl.edu/2010/09/21/salmonella-multimedia/
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida researchers have discovered that tomato variety and maturity influence the ways salmonella bacteria respond to the fruit.
The findings, published Aug. 31 by the online, open-access journal Public Library of Science (PLoS) ONE, suggest researchers may be able to develop tomato cultivars more resistant to salmonella contamination.
Also, by monitoring tomato ripeness, it may be possible to reduce fruit’s susceptibility to contamination during and after harvest, said Max Teplitski, an associate professor in soil microbiology. (more …)
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — John Beuttenmuller has been named executive director of Florida Foundation Seed Producers Inc., which produces and licenses new plant varieties developed by faculty with the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
Beuttenmuller took the post July 1. He has worked in UF’s cultivar licensing program since 2005, most recently as FFSP’s intellectual property and licensing director. As executive director, he oversees breeding programs for more than 40 crops and a 750-acre seed stock farm in Marianna.
“I see this as an excellent opportunity,” Beuttenmuller said. “I’m excited to be involved in an organization that truly has the ability and track record of contributing greatly to agriculture in Florida, the U.S. and the world, as well as the continued success of plant breeding programs at UF.”