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IFAS News

University of Florida

Rogers named interim head of UF/IFAS Citrus Research and Education Center

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Citrus, IFAS, RECs

Michael Rogers2

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The University Florida today named Michael Rogers interim director of the Citrus Research and Education Center in Lake Alfred. The CREC is part of the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

Rogers has a doctorate in entomology from the University of Kentucky and specializes in citrus integrated pest management.  His research has focused on the Asian citrus psyllid, the insect that carries the bacterium that causes citrus greening.

Citrus greening disease starves the tree of nutrients and produces fruits that are green and misshapen — unsuitable for sale as fresh fruit or juice. Most infected trees die within a few years. The disease has affected millions of citrus trees in North America.

“Currently, the survival of the Florida citrus industry is threatened by citrus greening disease, and time is something many growers don’t have,” Rogers said. “The Florida citrus industry is looking to the research and extension programs of the University of Florida, IFAS, to develop and deliver the solutions needed to continue production of Florida’s iconic crop.”

Although current methods to control the spread of citrus greening are limited to the removal and destruction of infected trees, UF/IFAS researchers are working to defeat it on a number of fronts, including trying to eradicate the insect that carries the bacteria, breeding citrus rootstock that shows better greening resistance, testing laboratory treatments that could be used on trees and harnessing steam to treat trees.

Rogers takes the place of Jackie Burns, who becomes UF/IFAS’ dean for research. Both start their new jobs Nov. 1.

“While Dr. Burns leaves the leadership role of CREC director, she will continue to serve the Florida citrus industry, and UF/IFAS as a whole, in an even more important role as dean for research,” Rogers said.  “On behalf of the faculty and staff of the CREC, I thank Dr. Burns for her years of dedicated service to the CREC.”

By Kimberly Moore Wilmoth, 352-294-3302, k.moore.wilmoth@ufl.edu

Sources:      Michael Rogers, 863-956-8801, mrgrs@ufl.edu

UF/IFAS researchers use steam to treat citrus greening

Topic(s): Agriculture, Citrus, IFAS, New Technology, Pests, Research

UF/IFAS researchers are using steam to treat citrus greening.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida researchers are turning to the old-fashioned method of steaming to help treat citrus greening, a disease devastating citrus trees throughout Florida.

Reza Ehsani and his UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences colleagues are tenting and then enveloping trees in steam that is 136 degrees Fahrenheit for about 30 seconds in an attempt to kill the citrus greening bacterium. (more …)

Retracing citrus’ earliest roots to find clues for healthier future

Topic(s): Agriculture, Citrus, IFAS, Research
UF/IFAS Researcher Fred Gmitter holds citrus fruit.  He helped to trace the origins of citrus to two wild species.

see caption below

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – That orange you’re enjoying may have been grown in Florida, but its deepest ancestral roots stretch back more than 5 million years, all the way to two wild citrus species from Southeast Asia.

University of Florida scientists led an international research team that analyzed the genome sequences of 10 diverse citrus varieties for the first time. (more …)

UF/IFAS helps create genome database to aid fruit growers, scientists

Topic(s): Citrus, Crops, New Technology

GAINESVILLE, Fla. –Scientists and growers can use a new genome database developed in part by University of Florida researchers to help make fruit trees more disease- and pest-resistant and enhance crop quality.

Researchers who study citrus, rosaceae and vaccinium crops will be the primary users of the portal, said Mercy Olmstead, assistant professor of horticultural sciences at UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, but agricultural producers will also reap the benefits.

(more …)

UF/IFAS researchers find chemicals that treat citrus greening in the lab

Topic(s): Agriculture, Citrus, IFAS, Pests, Research
A citrus tree sapling hosts the Asian citrus pyllid, which spreads citrus greening disease through a bacteria it carries.

see photo caption below

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – A University of Florida research team is cautiously optimistic after finding a possible treatment in the lab for citrus greening, a disease devastating Florida’s $9 billion citrus industry. It is the first step in a years-long process to bring a treatment to market.

Claudio Gonzalez and Graciela Lorca led the research team at UF that examined three biochemical treatments: phloretin, hexestrol and benzbromarone.

The team sprayed greenhouse tree shoots separately with one of the three biochemicals and were successful in stopping the bacteria’s spread, particularly with benzbromarone, which halted the bacteria in 80 percent of the infected trees’ shoots. They expect to begin field experiments with this treatment later this year. Their research was published in late April by the online open access journal PLOS Pathogens. (more …)

Who’s fooling who? Species communicate, ‘eavesdrop’ and play tricks near infected trees

Topic(s): Citrus, Entomology and Nematology, Pests

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Four species communicate with and sometimes trick each other around a scent produced by greening-infected citrus trees, a new University of Florida study finds.

Communication between species is common but almost always is described between two or three species, said Lukasz Stelinski, associate professor of entomology and nematology at the Citrus Research and Education Center in Lake Alfred.

Stelinski wanted know how a fourth species, in this case, a wasp, would vary this interaction ─  a probe that may be one of the few cases where species at four levels of the food chain use one odor to communicate with, and exploit, each other.

(more …)

Two new citrus cultivars among 13 approved by UF/IFAS

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Biofuels, Citrus, Cultivars

For photos, please contact Brad Buck at bradbuck@ufl.edu

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Two new citrus cultivars with high industry interest are among 13 recently approved for release by the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

The UF/IFAS Cultivar Release Committee voted April 15 to release UF 711 and RBB 7-34, two new citrus cultivars. Fred Gmitter, a citrus genetics and breeding professor at the Citrus Research and Education Center in Lake Alfred, told the panel growers are excited to field-trial the two cultivars.

UF 711 is an easy-to-peel mandarin, while RBB 7-34 is a new navel orange-like variety with much more color and flavor than ordinary Florida navels, Gmitter said. Both varieties were deemed to be good-tasting, as well.

(more …)

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