IFAS News

University of Florida

UF/IFAS virus study may signal trouble for populations facing climate change

Topic(s): Research, Weather
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Aside from rising sea levels, many climate change models predict that in the future, the planet’s temperature and weather will become increasingly erratic with wild, unpredictable storms and fluctuating conditions.

A new study from researchers at the University of Florida and Yale University and published today by the journal Evolution investigated how an organism – in this case, a simple virus – adapts to temperature change when that change comes in different ways: constant, in a recognizable pattern or at random.

Their findings suggest that some organisms, especially those that are long-lived and have low genetic variation, such as manatees, polar bears or cheetahs, may be in for a rough time as they try to adapt to previously unseen conditions.

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UF/IFAS survey of nation’s largest cities finds water supplies not as threatened as believed

Topic(s): Conservation, Research

When taken into consideration, man-made infrastructure to channel water -- such as this urban creek in Northwest Gainesville -- changes the look of water availability and vulnerability in the United States, University of Florida research shows. UF/IFAS photo by Marisol Amador.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Although reports of drought conditions, water wars and restrictions have often painted a bleak picture of the nation’s water availability, a new University of Florida survey finds that conditions aren’t quite so bad as believed.

 Jim Jawitz, a UF soil and water science professor, and Julie Padowski, who earned her doctoral degree from UF and is now a postdoctoral researcher at Stanford University, knew that previous assessments of urban water supplies typically used what is known as a “runoff-based approach,” which takes into account factors such as river flows and rainfall amounts.

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Rice grown without paddies can feed drought-stricken communities, UF/IFAS expert says

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

 Aerobic rice small

Cutline at bottom. Contact tnordlie@ufl.edu for high-res image.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Consumed by 3 billion people, rice is arguably the world’s most important food staple, and one reason for its popularity is that rice can be grown under flooded conditions that suppress weeds, making cultivation easier.

In some parts of the world, water is in short supply, but farmers often devote what they can to rice farming, because the crop is so important. However, research has led to a simple but profound solution that requires less water – growing rice in fields, a practice called aerobic rice production.

The practice relies on rainfall plus limited irrigation to meet the plants’ moisture needs. It requires about 40 percent less water than paddy-grown rice, according to a University of Florida study in the current issue of Agronomy Journal.

Aerobic rice production is gaining popularity in India and Southeast Asia, particularly in drought-stricken or upland areas, said Rao Mylavarapu, a professor with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and one of the study’s authors.

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UF/IFAS workshop to help timber owners protect their land from theft, other crimes

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Extension, Forestry, IFAS, Safety

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — To the owner, a tract of timberland may be a wise investment or a family legacy. Unfortunately, to others that same acreage may look like a great place to cook methamphetamine, poach deer or steal a few truckloads of logs.

To help North Florida residents prevent illegal activity on their land, the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences has joined forces with Florida’s Forest Stewardship Program and state agencies to present a one-day workshop, called Timberland Security for Owners.

It happens 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 7 at the UF/IFAS Columbia County Extension Office in Lake City.

“We have a great program that’s dynamic and interesting, and covers material that every forest landowner should know for their own protection and protection of the community,” said Chris Demers, Forest Stewardship Program coordinator in Gainesville.

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UF’s CALS, engineering and military science students tackle future of land grant universities

Topic(s): CALS, Uncategorized

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — As part of a yearlong celebration marking the 150th anniversary of the Morrill Act, legislation that created land-grant universities in the United States, a group of University of Florida students will turn their attention to the future mission of land-grant universities.

The Jan. 31 event is called “Leadership and the Morrill Act: A 19th Century Initiative with 21st Century Implications.”

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UF scientists identify natural compounds that enhance humans’ perception of sweetness

Topic(s): New Technology, Nutrition, Research
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida taste scientist Linda Bartoshuk and her colleagues want to play a trick on you — but it’s for your own good.

The UF team has identified a group of naturally occurring compounds that enhance the way people perceive sweetness, and believe that those compounds can be used to make foods taste sweeter using far less sugar and no artificial sweetener.

The group, which includes eminent scholar Harry Klee and professors David Clark and Charles Sims, all of UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, has collaborated for several years on flavor- and aroma-related research studies. Bartoshuk is a professor with UF’s Center for Smell and Taste, part of the UF College of Dentistry.

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Soil “transplants” may hinder Diaprepes weevil in flatwoods citrus, UF/IFAS researchers say

Topic(s): Agriculture, Biocontrols, Citrus, Environment, Invasive Species, New Technology, Pests

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Cutline at bottom. Click here for high-res image.

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Adult Diaprepes citrus weevil. Photo courtesy of U.S. Department of Agriculture/Agricultural Research Service. Click here for high-res image.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Diaprepes citrus weevil is often more abundant in finely textured, poorly drained flatwoods soils than in the sandy soil varieties of Florida’s Central Ridge; perhaps that’s because sandy soils seem to host more species of nematodes that prey on insects.

Researchers with the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Science have taken those observations and turned them into a potential management technique, using “transplanted” soil and nematodes to grow flatwoods citrus. Their results appear in the January issue of the journal Biological Control.

In the study, researchers conducted experiments at a weevil-infested flatwoods citrus grove in Osceola County. They planted 50 trees in oversized holes filled with sand, and 50 trees in native soil, then introduced predatory nematodes to most of the trees. For the next four years, researchers monitored nematode and weevil populations and checked tree health.

The results showed there were more predatory nematodes of more species — and fewer weevils — in the root zones of trees planted in sandy soil. By the study’s end, 21 trees in native soil had died of weevil herbivory, compared with three trees in sandy soil. Surviving trees in sandy soil also had 60 percent greater trunk diameter and produced 85 percent more fruit than those in native soil.

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UF distinguished professor named Florida Academy of Sciences’ 2013 medalist

Topic(s): Announcements, Honors and Appointments, IFAS

Lonnie Ingram

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Lonnie Ingram, a distinguished professor in the University of Florida’s microbiology and cell science department, has been named the 2013 Medalist by the Florida Academy of Sciences.

The medal is awarded each year to a Florida resident who has made outstanding contributions to promoting scientific research, stimulating interest in science or spreading scientific knowledge.

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Two UF/IFAS faculty members honored for international work, influence

Topic(s): Agriculture, Crops, Entomology and Nematology, Environment, Families and Consumers, Honors and Appointments, Household Pests, IFAS, Research, Weather

SuAward

Nan-Yao Su, right, is congratulated by Jack Payne, UF senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources. Click here for high-res image.

 FraisseAward

Clyde Fraisse, right, is congratulated by Jack Payne, UF senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources. Click here for high-res image.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Termite control pioneer Nan-Yao Su and climate expert Clyde Fraisse of the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences were honored for their international work this week, receiving a pair of annual awards.

Su, an entomology professor at the Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center, received the International Fellow Award; Fraisse, an associate professor with the agricultural and biological engineering department in Gainesville, received the UF/IFAS International Achievement Award.

Both were recognized Thursday at a meeting of top UF/IFAS administrators. Jack Payne, UF senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources, and Walter Bowen, director of UF/IFAS International Programs, formally presented the awards.

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UF/IFAS entomology department is new home to School of Ants project

Topic(s): Agriculture, Entomology and Nematology, Environment, IFAS, Invasive Species, Landscaping, Lawn & Garden, Pests, Research

 LuckyAntsRelease

Cutline at bottom. Click here for high-res image.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The nationwide School of Ants has set up shop at the University of Florida, but picnickers can relax – none of its “students” are the six-legged variety.

The school is an example of citizen science, a project where ordinary people collect and submit data for experts to review and compile. Participants collect ants from their yards and neighborhoods, then entomologists identify each species and plot its location on digital maps that, eventually, will provide a snapshot of ant distribution around the country.

“Knowledge of the presence of a species of ant might help for things like quarantine and control, if the species is a problem,” said founder Andrea Lucky, an assistant scientist with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. “If we find a rare ant, or an ant that’s way outside its known range, we may want to keep an eye on it purely for academic purposes.”

The school was launched at North Carolina State University in 2011, a collaboration between Lucky and Rob Dunn, a biology assistant professor. Then last semester, Lucky took a position with UF’s entomology and nematology department. Though the North Carolina branch will remain active, Lucky says she’s thrilled to relocate the project headquarters to Florida, which has more ant species than any other state.

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