IFAS News

University of Florida

UF researchers find bacterial imbalances linked to deadly disease that strikes infants

Topic(s): IFAS, New Technology, Research, Safety

Volker Mai

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — New findings by the University of Florida may help lead to a cure for a deadly disease that primarily afflicts premature newborns.

Necrotizing enterocolitis, or NEC, is the death of tissue in the bowels that causes inflammation, abdominal distention, bleeding, and in about 25 percent of the cases, mortality. It most often occurs in newborns during the first weeks of life.

Current treatments for NEC depend on the severity and include surgical and non-surgical techniques. Medical care for infants with NEC is estimated to cost up to $1 billion each year in the United States.

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University of Florida-led teams awarded $6.9 million for climate change projects

Topic(s): Agriculture, Crops, Environment, New Technology, Weather

Two University of Florida-led teams have been awarded federal grants totaling $6.9 million for projects to develop heat-resistant corn and develop extension programs to help farmers cope with climate variability and climate change.

The grants, for $5 million and $1.9 million, were announced today by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Both projects are led by faculty members with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and involve personnel from other institutions.

The projects were supported by Agriculture and Food Research Initiative competitive grants from the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, as part of a program on climate change adaptation and mitigation.

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Papaya plants reduce the need for pesticides on tomatoes in Florida, new UF study finds

Topic(s): Agriculture, Biocontrols, Crops, Entomology and Nematology, Environment, IFAS, New Technology, Pests, RECs

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Whiteflies can be biologically controlled in Florida greenhouse tomatoes, according to a new University of Florida study, which helps reduce the need for pesticide applications.

Biological control, or biocontrol, is the mitigation of pests using natural means rather than synthetic ones. Florida is the country’s top producer of fresh tomatoes, and sales of the state’s crop for 2009-2010 exceeded $402 million.

Lance Osborne, an entomology professor and associate director of UF’s Mid-Florida Research and Education Center in Apopka, led the study that found that papaya plants can be used to host a wasp that attacks silverleaf whiteflies, an insect that is a major pest of tomatoes. The findings are published in the current issue of the journal Biological Control.

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Snake predator may benefit endangered bird, UF study finds

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

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — An endangered Florida bird may have some unexpected help in its struggle for survival, according to a new University of Florida study.

UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers found that rat snakes, once thought to threaten the endangered, red-cockaded woodpecker, actually benefit the birds. The study is published in the current issue of the ornithology journal The Condor.

The findings could help landowners, conservationists and those enrolled in programs such as Safe Harbor, which allows those with endangered species on their land to harvest timber if they agree to help promote the species’ recovery. Forestry and forest products contributed more than $4.4 billion to Florida’s economy in 2008.

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Efforts to control invasive lionfish not likely to curb population, UF researchers say

Topic(s): Invasive Species

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Lionfish are causing problems for native fish populations in Florida’s coastal waters, such as grouper and snapper, prompting efforts to try and curb populations of the invasive species.

But a new University of Florida study suggests that eradicating lionfish isn’t likely to happen without a better understanding of the species and better control strategies.

The study, published in the online journal PLoS ONE last month, showed that lionfish reproduce too quickly to be wiped out by short-term harvesting, said Andrew Barbour, a UF fisheries and aquatic sciences graduate student and the study’s lead author.

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UF researcher reduces allergens in peanuts using pulsed light

Topic(s): Departments, Food Safety, IFAS, New Technology, Research

Multimedia available: http://news.ufl.edu/2011/06/08/peanut-allergen-multimedia/

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A University of Florida researcher has developed a new technique to make peanuts safer for people with peanut allergies.

Wade Yang, an assistant professor in UF’s food science and human nutrition department, used pulsed ultraviolet light, or PUV, to reduce the allergenic potential of peanuts by up to 90 percent. The study was published this week by the journal Food and Bioprocess Technology.

By releasing pulsed, or concentrated, bursts of light containing multiple wavelengths, PUV changes peanut allergens so that human antibodies can’t recognize them and cause the release of histamines, which are responsible for allergy symptoms such as itching, rashes and wheezing.

“We believe the allergen can be controlled at the processing stage, before the product even goes to the shelf,” Yang said.

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John Hayes named interim dean for UF IFAS research

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Honors and Appointments, IFAS, RECs, Research

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — John Hayes, chairman of the University of Florida’s wildlife ecology and conservation department, has been appointed interim dean for research for the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences by Jack Payne, UF senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources.

“John understands research and has been a proven administrator,” Payne said. “I look forward to the vision and dedication that he will bring to the position.”

Hayes takes the post July 1 and replaces Mark McLellan, IFAS research dean since July 2005.

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Pomegranates could become new cash crop for Florida, UF researcher says

Topic(s): Agriculture, Crops, IFAS, RECs, Research

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Supplies of a nutritious and popular fruit could increase in Florida in the next few years, thanks to the research of a University of Florida professor emeritus.

William Castle, who specializes in horticultural science at UF’s Citrus Research and Education Center in Lake Alfred, is studying the viability of pomegranate production in Florida. The fruit is not currently produced commercially in the state.

Pomegranates are small, shrubby trees native to the Middle East and have apple-sized fruits with a red exterior and numerous juicy, edible arils inside. The aril covers the pomegranate seed and has a sweet, tart taste. The fruit contains healthy compounds such as antioxidants, nutrients and vitamins.

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