IFAS News

University of Florida

Father-daughter duo team up for citrus research

Topic(s): Agriculture, Citrus, Families and Consumers, IFAS, RECs, Research

Jude and Melinda Grosser at his laboratory at the UF/IFAS Citrus Research and Education Center in Lake Alfred, Fla.

LAKE ALFRED, Fla. — When Jude Grosser’s daughter, Melinda, was in elementary school, he would often take her to his laboratory at the University of Florida’s Citrus Research and Education Center, where he works as a researcher on citrus diseases and creating new varieties.  In the lab, he let Melinda look at fluorescent proteins from jellyfish, glowing in plant cells under the microscope, and even grow microorganisms in her petri dish handprint.  Now, the 26-year-old is set to get her Ph.D. in molecular microbiology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the spring and still finds herself working with her dad.

The pair recently co-authored a research paper on new grapefruit cybrids, developed when the nuclear genes from a ”Ruby Red” grapefruit were combined  with  genes from within a cell’s cytoplasm (the jellylike material that makes up much of a cell) from a “Dancy” mandarin. The change increased the harvest window of the new grapefruits by three months.  This resulted in the commercial release of a new UF/IFAS grapefruit cultivar N2-28 ‘Summer Gold Grapefruit’ that can be harvested into August.  Melinda was working as an undergraduate Howard Hughes Medical Institute “Science for Life” student in the laboratory of UF Department of Horticultural Sciences Professor Christine Chase in Gainesville for her contribution to the project. (more …)

UF/IFAS food economics expert projects increased global shrimp production

Topic(s): Aquaculture, Economics, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Research

 

Shrimp and cans of crab meat on display for sale at a seafood store.  Fishing, seafood industry, food.  UF/IFAS Photo: Tyler Jones.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Global shrimp production is recovering from a challenging disease, a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences professor says.

Based on an annual survey of shrimp industry leaders, global farmed shrimp production fell 14 percent from 2011 to 2013, caused mainly by the devastating disease known as early mortality syndrome, said James Anderson, a UF/IFAS professor of food and resource economics and director of the UF Institute for Sustainable Food Systems.  The disease caused by bacteria, was first reported in Asia in 2009, and has resulted in high mortalities in the shrimp-farming industry, especially in Thailand, China, Malaysia and Vietnam.

But shrimp is bouncing back, with production expected to return to 2011 levels this year, Anderson said. He projected an average annual growth rate of over 7 percent from 2013 through 2017. From 2006 to 2011, the annual growth rate for shrimp was approximately 6 percent, according to Anderson’s numbers.

“It is notoriously difficult to get timely and accurate numbers on global shrimp production, since the industry is mostly located in the developing countries, many of which do not have resources to collect the data in detail,” Anderson said.

(more …)

Almonds may help augment nutrients in diet, UF/IFAS study shows

Topic(s): Families and Consumers, IFAS, Nutrition, Research

 

Two hanfuls of almonds.  Image used in the 2014 Research Discoveries report.

Please see caption below

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Eating a moderate amount of almonds each day may enrich the diets of adults and their young children, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

“Almonds are a good source of plant protein — essential fatty acids, vitamin E and magnesium,” said Alyssa Burns, a doctoral student in the UF/IFAS food science and human nutrition department. Burns conducted the study as part of her graduate work.

Her statement is backed by the federal government’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which recommend people eat unsalted nuts.

For the 14-week study, published in the journal Nutrition Research, UF/IFAS nutrition scientists gave almonds daily to 29 pairs of parents and children. Most of the adults were mothers with an average age of 35, while their children were between 3 and 6 years old. The children were encouraged to consume 0.5 ounces of almond butter daily. Parents were given 1.5 ounces of almonds per day.

Participants ate almonds for a few weeks, then they resumed eating their typical intake, which included other foods as snacks.

(more …)

UF/IFAS study: Mite might control pest that attacks Florida’s $125 million-a-year cucumber crop

Topic(s): Agriculture, Crops, Economics, Entomology and Nematology, Environment, IFAS, Pests, RECs, Research

IFAS Extention faculty are working to increase food safety. By following food safety guidelines, farmers and packing facilities are improving their processes, but consumers must be aware of how to select, store and serve fresh produce in order to minimize their risk of contracting food-borne illnesses. UF/IFAS Photo: Thomas Wright.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A predatory mite might feed on a pest of cucumbers, a $125 million-a-year crop in Florida, newly published University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences research shows.

This finding may help growers protect the environment because they could reduce pesticides to keep the pest – known as thrips — at bay. Growers may also save money because they may cut chemical use on their crop. In fact, because this thrips preys on many vegetable crops, the finding could save millions of dollars in pesticide use.

Armed with new data, it’s important for growers to use the mite to mitigate the pest, UF/IFAS researchers said.

“It will take some time for growers to be trained to use biological control agents in the field for maximum benefits,” said Garima Kakkar, who spearheaded the study as part of her master’s thesis when she was a graduate student at the UF/IFAS Tropical Research and Education Center in Homestead, Florida.

(more …)

Massive study shows climate change rapidly warming world’s lakes, UF/IFAS professor says

Topic(s): Conservation, Environment, Green Living, IFAS, Pollution, Research

Small Lake Alice resized

Click photo for larger image; photo cutline at bottom of page.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Climate change is rapidly warming lakes around the world, threatening freshwater supplies and ecosystems, according to a new study spanning six continents.

More than 60 scientists took part in the research, published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters and announced today at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco. The study authors include Karl Havens, director of the Florida Sea Grant program and a professor with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

The full study, titled, “Rapid and highly variable warming of lake surface waters around the globe,” is available free of charge here, or at the following link: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2015GL066235/full.

The study showed that lakes are warming an average of 0.6 degrees Fahrenheit each decade. That’s greater than the warming rate of either the oceans or the atmosphere, and it could have profound effects, scientists say.

At the current rate, algal blooms, which can ultimately rob water of oxygen, are projected to increase 20 percent in lakes over the next century. Algal blooms that are toxic to fish and other animals would increase by 5 percent. And these rates imply that emissions of methane, a greenhouse gas with 25 times the heat-trapping capacity of carbon dioxide, will increase 4 percent over the next decade.

“Lakes are critically important to people, because they are sources of drinking water, irrigation water and fisheries,” said Havens, an ecologist with the UF/IFAS School of Forest Resources and Conservation. (more …)

Study: Rare wetland fires can help, hurt habitat

Topic(s): Environment, Forestry, IFAS, Research, Safety, Weather

 

Great Blue Heron. Big Cypress National Preserve along Loop Road. Shot 03/22/02.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — When you think of wildfires, you may not think of wetlands. But the seldom-seen blazes may help some endangered species, according to a newly published study by a former UF/IFAS researcher.

Severe wetland fires — so rare they occur only a few times per century – also can change vegetation and patterns of water movement, said Adam Watts, who led the study as a post-doctoral researcher in the UF/IFAS School of Forest Resources and Conservation.

During a smoldering fire, wetlands can become deeper if the fires burn muck or peat soils.

“In some cases, this could help improve habitat for endangered species, such as wood storks,” said Watts, now a research assistant professor at the Desert Research Institute in Reno, Nevada. But wetland fires can also kill many trees and shrubs, causing changes to the vegetation that returns.

(more …)

UF/IFAS using box tax money to battle citrus greening

Topic(s): Agriculture, Citrus, Economics, IFAS, RECs, Research
Citrus box tax funds support research to find a control for citrus greening. About 95 percent of citrus ends up in processing plants like this one near Immokalee.

see caption below

LAKE ALFRED, Fla. — In the next three months, Florida citrus growers will have to decide whether to extend for another six years the citrus box tax, the proceeds of which help to pay for citrus greening research at the University of Florida’s Citrus Research and Education Center and other research universities and laboratories.

The Citrus Research and Development Foundation, Inc., Box Tax Advisory Council voted unanimously in June to recommend continuation of the citrus box tax at the current assessment rate of $.03 (3 cents) per harvested box for the last year of the current referendum, fiscal year 2015-16. (more …)

UF/IFAS hosting Florida Agricultural Policy Outlook Conference in January

Topic(s): Agriculture, Conservation, Crops, Economics, Environment, IFAS, RECs, Safety

A man checks fertilizer levels on a tractor on a farm. Farm equipment, fertilization, agriculture, food crops. UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones.

APOPKA, Fla. — Florida agriculture and food industries are among the largest economic contributors in the state. Agricultural producers manage 9.5 million acres, growing more than 300 commodities, including everything from citrus and cows to peanuts and potatoes. Agricultural products are shipped to national and international markets.

On January 28, some of the state’s top agriculture thinkers will gather at the University of Florida’s Mid-Florida Research and Education Center in Apopka for the Florida Agricultural Policy Outlook Conference scheduled for 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.  Cost is $50 and includes a catered lunch. The event is organized by the UF Food and Resource Economics Department, under the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. (more …)

UF/IFAS Extension Family Nutrition Program faculty, staff help during holidays

Topic(s): Agriculture, Economics, Extension, Families and Consumers, Finances, IFAS

Displays of fresh vegetables and produce. Photo taken 10-01-15.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — In keeping with the yuletide spirit of giving, faculty, staff and interns with the UF/IFAS Extension Family Nutrition Program are helping others this month, including adopting a family and collecting and distributing hygiene items.

Here are a few examples of how FNP personnel are assisting others this holiday season:

 

  • UF/IFAS Extension Leon County Director Kendra Zamojski said her office is adopting a family for Christmas. Faculty and staff will purchase food and gifts for a family in need. Contact: hughson@ufl.edu; work: 850-606-5201.

 

  • On Christmas Eve morning, intern Brianna Posadas will work with the Santa Paula Rotary Club, distributing Christmas presents and food to deserving families in Santa Paula, California. Contact: Brianna Posadas, M.S. candidate and a research assistant on the FNP Evaluation Team. bposadas@ufl.edu; cell: 951-387-0022.
  • FNP Program Assistant JoLynn Peoples and her family volunteer every year at an event called “A Night of Blessing,” a Christmas party for homeless families in Santa Rosa County. This year, the event is on Dec. 18 at a local school. They provide a Christmas dinner, gifts, coats and blankets for the children. It is hosted by a local church, but was started by a small group of people. Contact: jolynnp@santarosa.fl.gov; 850-485-0039.
  • Ashley Avant, an FNP program assistant for UF/IFAS Extension Osceola County, said she will collect family-sized personal hygiene items to give to the Community Hope Center in Kissimmee, Florida. “In Osceola County, we have a large number of our students and parents living in hotels throughout the county. The Community Hope Center provides these families with resources that they need,” Avant said. Avant and company will collect supplies at the Osceola County Fair office in Kissimmee through Dec 18. Contact:  aavant@ufl.edu; cell: 407-456-4620.

FNP faculty and staff typically teach participants who qualify for the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as the Food Stamp Program, how to eat healthy on a budget. As a major part of the education, participants are encouraged to increase their consumption of whole grains, fruits, vegetables and fat-free or low-fat dairy foods.

FNP is the SNAP-Ed (the nutrition education component of SNAP) in Florida.

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Sources: Multiple, see above

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