University of Florida

UF/IFAS study shows invasive leaf beetle could threaten cole crops in cold climates

Topic(s): Agriculture, Entomology and Nematology, Environment, IFAS, Invasive Species, Pests, RECs

Cave, Ron

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Gulf Coast farmers know that the invasive yellowmargined leaf beetle loves cooler temperatures, devouring leaves on turnips and other cole crops in fall and winter; now, a University of Florida study suggests the beetle’s cold tolerance could help it spread much further north than its current range.

Researchers report in the November 2012 issue of Annals of the Entomological Society of America that the beetle’s eggs can withstand prolonged periods at 32 degrees Fahrenheit. That means the insect might survive in Kansas, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky and Virginia, says entomologist Ron Cave, an associate professor with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

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UF/IFAS announces $1.5 million Tropicana gift for citrus faculty post focused on innovation

Topic(s): Announcements, Citrus, RECs, Research


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GAINESVILLE, Fla. –– Tropicana Products Inc., a division of PepsiCo Inc., has pledged $1.5 million to endow a professorship specializing in innovative citrus research to strengthen the Florida citrus industry, the nation’s largest, University of Florida and Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences officials and company representatives announced today.

The endowment, to be known as “The Tropicana Professorship for Florida Citrus Innovation,” will support teaching, research and outreach efforts dedicated to the future of the state’s citrus industry.

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Researchers pinpoint culprits in grapefruit/drug interactions, UF/IFAS citrus breeder says

Topic(s): Agriculture, Citrus, Cultivars, Safety

Grapefruit. UF/IFAS Photo:  Thomas Wright.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The quest to develop a grapefruit hybrid that will not interact with medication has taken a step forward, as researchers pinpoint compounds most responsible for the problem, a University of Florida citrus breeder says.

The data were published in the December 2012 issue of the journal Xenobiotica.

Scientists have been aware of the so-called “grapefruit juice effect” since 1989. Compounds in the fruit called furanocoumarins inhibit the action of an enzyme that breaks down certain medications in the human digestive system.

The phenomenon poses a health risk because it can produce unexpectedly high levels of these medications in a patient’s bloodstream. Doctors, pharmacists and prescription drug labels warn patients to avoid grapefruit and related products under these circumstances.

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UF/IFAS study: Though manatee population has grown, low diversity still a risk

Topic(s): Conservation, Environment, Research

Submitted photo of a Florida manatee, courtesy of Bob Bonde, USGS

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A new research study gauging the outlook for the Florida manatee shows that it’s a case of great news and not-so-great news.

The Florida’s manatee population has grown so much in the last decade that the graceful creatures may soon find themselves reclassified by wildlife management officials from endangered to merely threatened.

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UF/IFAS researchers say Florida panther effort likely saved big cats from extinction

Topic(s): Conservation, Environment

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — When wildlife managers imported eight female Texas pumas in hopes they would mate with native Florida panthers, they knew they were taking a bit of a risk.

But a new University of Florida research study, published today in the Journal of Animal Ecology, suggests their gamble paid off.

Without those pumas, UF researchers Madan Oli and recent UF doctoral graduate Jeff Hostetler found that the probability of the Florida panther population falling below 10 panthers by 2010 was nearly 71 percent.

“We found that the Florida population would’ve declined, on average, by about 5 percent per year,” said Oli, a UF population ecology professor and Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences faculty member. “And that’s essentially telling us there was a high chance that the population would’ve eventually gone extinct.”

There were an estimated 20 to 25 panthers left in the state when the Texas female cats were brought to Florida in 1995. Officials believe the population has since grown about 4 percent per year, and their estimate now ranges from 100 to 160, said Dave Onorato, a panther expert with the state Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Florida Panther Project.

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Marty Main to lead Sea Grant Extension, IFAS natural resources Extension programs

Topic(s): Announcements, Extension, Uncategorized

Martin B. “Marty” Main, creator of the Florida Master Naturalist Program, has been named assistant director of education and Extension for the Florida Sea Grant College Program and associate dean of natural resource programs for the Florida Cooperative Extension Service.

In his new role, Main will help guide Florida Sea Grant Extension faculty as they plan and implement new programs. He will also be responsible for directing University of Florida IFAS Extension programs in areas such as water use and conservation, forestry, landscape management, fresh and saltwater fisheries, and wildlife management.

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Plants in space: Gravity not needed to orient root growth, UF researchers find

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, IFAS, Research


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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Plant growth is not as dependent on gravity as previously thought, according to new research from the University of Florida.

In a study published in the current issue of the journal BMC Plant Biology, researchers found for the first time that roots display normal movements used to get around rocks and obstacles even when there is no gravity.

The movements, known as waving and skewing, were thought to be due to gravity pulling on roots as they sample their growing surface with touch, said Anna-Lisa Paul, one of the study’s lead authors and a UF horticultural sciences research associate professor.

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UF Oyster Recovery Team updates Apalachicola producers, leaders on recovery project

Topic(s): Agriculture, Conservation, Crops, Economics, Environment

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Apalachicola-area oystermen and community leaders received a progress report Thursday from University of Florida scientists working to remediate the area’s oyster population collapse.

Karl Havens, director of Florida Sea Grant and leader of the UF Oyster Recovery Team, told a crowd of about 75 in Apalachicola that data being developed will help local industry representatives make management decisions to protect the area’s world-famous shellfish.

“A good path forward will be one where scientists like us can give the community information to empower them to participate in the protection of the Apalachicola Bay system and its fisheries,” Havens said.

At the meeting, members of the locally based seafood industry self-help organization Seafood Management Assistance Resource & Recovery Team, or SMARRT, announced plans for a stakeholders’ group. Made up of oystermen, shrimpers, crabbers, guides, dealers and other industry personnel, the 15-member group would enable the local seafood community to “speak with one voice” in communications with management agencies and research teams.

Chris Millender, a SMARRT ad hoc committee member and chairperson of the Franklin County Seafood Workers’ Association, said he hopes that with local expertise and scientific support, Apalachicola Bay can be managed sustainably and the oyster fishery collapse won’t be repeated.

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UF researcher exploring plant preservation method that could help endangered species

Topic(s): Crops, IFAS, New Technology, RECs, Research


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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A University of Florida scientist is researching a method to freeze and preserve orchid seeds, and besides aiding producers, it might also give endangered plants a better chance at survival.

Wagner Vendrame, an associate professor of environmental horticulture with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, is trying to improve a technique known as cryopreservation, in which living cells or tissues are frozen in liquid nitrogen at minus 321 degrees Fahrenheit for later use. So far, his results from cryopreserving orchid seeds have been promising.

The Florida orchid industry generated more than $43 million in sales in 2011. It produces orchids for both the specialty and mass market using hybrid plants that can be cultivated and are thus not in danger of extinction as many orchid species are.

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