IFAS News

University of Florida

UF/IFAS scientists’ findings shed light on body’s iron-absorption process

Topic(s): Departments, Nutrition, Research

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Iron is a key mineral for human health. Too much of it in your body — or too little — can lead to major health problems.

University of Florida researchers have discovered that an iron-absorption process thought to happen only within cell membranes can also happen within the interior of iron-deficient rodents’ intestinal cells. The finding suggests there is at least one unidentified protein involved in iron absorption, and that it may help maintain proper iron levels in the blood by mediating iron extraction from the diet.

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This Leap Year, consider the resources Floridians use in one day

Topic(s): Agriculture, Environment, Families and Consumers, Lawn & Garden

Trees in the Everglades are pictured. From UF/IFAS photo archive.

Click here for high resolution image. Caption at bottom.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – With an extra day on the calendar this year— leap day — there’s time to stop and think about how much resource consumption occurs in one day in Florida.

A University of Florida economist shared information on how much energy, food and water Floridians use in just one day.

In a 24-hour span, Floridians will use more than 11.3 trillion British thermal units (Btu) of energy from coal, natural gas, petroleum products and electricity, said Rodney Clouser, associate chair of UF’s Food and Resource Economics department, part of the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

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UF, Peace Corps offer new program through the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, CALS, Environment, IFAS

UF Master's International program signing

Click here for high resolution image. Caption at bottom.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Demand for Peace Corps volunteers with agricultural skills has helped create a new degree program available from the University of Florida.

Known as the Peace Corps Master’s International program, it allows students to travel internationally and earn a master’s degree in one of nine graduate programs in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, part of UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

UF’s and the Peace Corps’ new program was signed into agreement Tuesday.

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Color is key in controlling flies, UF researchers find

Topic(s): Entomology and Nematology, Environment, Household Pests, IFAS, Pests, Research, Safety

Florida Fly-Baiter

Caption at bottom. Click here for high resolution image.

Downloadable video is available at: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/10837916/20120215_FlyTrap.zip

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — As a carrier of as many as 100 types of germs, the common house fly is hardly as innocuous as its name might suggest.

Military personnel know this firsthand, and their need for effective fly control has helped University of Florida researchers create an innovative new fly control device.

Known as the Florida Fly-Baiter, the device is blue — in contrast to the yellow fly control devices on the market — and is far more effective, said Phil Koehler, a professor of urban entomology with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

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UF/IFAS plant pathologist helps Jacksonville student succeed in science competition

Topic(s): Agriculture, Conservation, Crops, Cultivars, Environment, New Technology

Jacksonville high school senior Andrew Joseph is what you’d call a self-starter.

As a tenth-grader, he read an article about scientists developing disease-resistant transgenic wheat. Andrew was intrigued, but he also asked the question, “what about rice?” As the world’s most-consumed cereal crop, rice is important to more people than wheat, he reasoned.

So he began investigating traits that might let rice grow in a broader range of environmental conditions. Andrew knew from a previous research project that E. coli bacteria can survive just about anywhere, and learned that one reason for this adaptability is a compound called trehalose. A carbohydrate produced by E. coli and many other organisms, trehalose is believed to help cells withstand prolonged drought.

Andrew settled on a goal—adding two E. coli genes to the rice plant Oryza sativa, causing it to produce trehalose. Then he set about finding a mentor who could provide advice and access to sophisticated lab equipment that wasn’t available at his school, Episcopal School of Jacksonville.

An online search uncovered several university faculty members who worked with rice and had experience in genetic engineering. Only one was located in the Southeast. That was Wen-Yuan Song, a plant pathology associate professor with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

“I e-mailed him, and asked him to mentor me,” Andrew said. “He replied, to my amazement. He said to come on down (to Gainesville) and tell him about my project.” (more …)

UF studies show promise for biological control methods against insect

Topic(s): Biocontrols, Green Living, Invasive Species, Pests

Caption at bottom. Click here for high resolution image.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — For years, scientists have tried to use environmentally friendly fungi to control fire ant infestations.

But the ants’ social behaviors — such as hauling their dead off to what entomologists call “bone yards” in isolated spots away from the nests — have prevented commercial development of this method. The fungus can’t spread if infected ants are continually separated from healthy ones.

A new University of Florida study shows, however, that there may be a way to make insect-killing fungi a more potent weapon against fire ants and other pests. Scientists with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences modified the fungus so that it produces a peptide that helps regulate the fire ants’ nervous system. (more …)

UF research: Blueberry wine has more antioxidants than many grape-based wines

Topic(s): Agriculture, Crops, Economics, IFAS, Nutrition, Research

BLUEBERRY_WINE

Caption at bottom. Click here for high resolution image.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Blueberry wine can provide more potentially healthy compounds than white wines and many red wines, according to a new University of Florida study.

Researchers with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences measured antioxidant content in a Florida-produced blueberry wine and compared it to published reports of antioxidant content in white and red wines made from grapes. Antioxidants are compounds that may offer cells protection from damaging molecules called free radicals.

The researchers found the Florida wine, produced from southern highbush blueberries, had more antioxidants than all of the reported white wine values and all but 20 percent of the reported values for red wines, which are considered high in antioxidants.

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