GAINESVILLE, Fla. — In their quest to develop higher quality mandarins, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers are zeroing in on the traits that will help them breed the best fruit.
Last year, they released the mandarin cultivar currently known as ‘7-6-27,’ which UF/IFAS researchers say is soaring with interest, and with more than 100,000 trees already ordered.
In a newly published study, Fred Gmitter, a UF/IFAS horticultural sciences professor, and his colleagues, including doctoral student Yuan Yu, found genetic markers for fruit quality traits that will be useful in future cultivar-breeding efforts.
Scientists wanted to know whether, for example, genetic markers – or “signposts,” as Gmitter calls them — for qualitative and quantitative traits in one group of mandarins lined up with these traits in other mandarins. Qualitative traits would be such things as peel or flesh color, while quantitative traits would include weight, size or shape.
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — You may eventually tempt your palette with more muscadine grape varieties, and they’ll be good for you, with new findings from University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers.
Muscadine grapes are known for their health benefits and other nutritive values – even for potential preventive measures against cancer and cardiovascular diseases. The fruits are rich in antioxidants such as a ellagic acid and resveratrol.
Although scientists have done much research extracting and identifying these health benefits, the studies have looked at few commercial varieties. The new UF/IFAS study examined those benefits in 58 of the approximately 100 muscadine grape varieties.
UF/IFAS scientists, led by former post-doctoral researcher Changmou Xu, put the muscadine varieties through various tests over two growing seasons to see which ones passed muster for health, taste and smell genes.
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Strawberry growers may eventually save $30 million a year with genetic findings from a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences study.
UF/IFAS researchers are looking for ways to thwart angular leaf spot, a pathogen that can destroy up to 10 percent of Florida’s $300 million-a-year strawberry crop in years with multiple freezes.
In the research, Vance Whitaker, a UF/IFAS associate professor of horticultural sciences, and a team of researchers found genetic markers they believe can lead them to develop strawberry cultivars that are more resistant to angular leaf spot. Genetic markers are short sequences of DNA used to identify a chromosome or nearby genes in a genetic map.
In two years of field trials, researchers at the UF/IFAS Gulf Coast Research and Education Center – along with colleagues from Oregon, The Netherlands and Canada – found places in strawberry genes that show promise for developing cultivars that are resistant to this disease.
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — As some Florida growers try to find new crops and the demand for biofuel stock increases globally, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers have found that sweet potato vines, usually thrown out during harvest, can serve well as livestock feed while the roots are an ideal source for biofuel.
This could be a key finding for the agriculture industry in Florida and to biofuel needs worldwide, said post-doctoral researcher Wendy Mussoline.
“The agriculture industry in Florida is looking to find new, viable crops to replace the citrus groves that have been diminished by the greening disease,” Mussoline said. “Potato farmers are also trying to find new crops that offer both biofuel alternatives as well as food and/or animal feed opportunities. They are conducting field trials on several varieties of sweet potatoes to determine if they are an economically viable crop that they can market.”
According to a newly published study by professor Ann Wilkie and Mussoline, an industrial sweet potato variety (CX-1) may do the trick.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researcher has identified two areas of the sorghum genome that could boost the plant’s resistance to the anthracnose disease.
This finding could be a key to expanding sorghum production in the Southeast, said Wilfred Vermerris, an associate professor of microbiology and cell science with UF/IFAS. Most sorghum does not grow well in the Southeast because the hot and humid weather provides ideal conditions for the growth of the fungus that causes anthracnose, with leaf blight and stem rot as its symptoms.
Sorghum is a source for table syrup and cattle feed that also shows great potential as a source for biofuel. It a huge grain: By acreage, it’s the fifth largest cereal crop in the world and the third largest in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In 2014, the U.S. was the largest producer of sorghum in the world.
For the latest study, Vermerris and other UF scientists used ‘Bk7,’ an anthracnose-resistant grain sorghum developed by Dan Gorbet, a professor emeritus of agronomy at the UF/IFAS North Florida Research and Education Center.
FORT PIERCE, Fla. — An entomologist recognized internationally as a specialist in biological control of insect pests has been named interim director of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Indian River Research and Education Center.
Ronald Cave will serve as the sixth leader of the Indian River REC.
From the Indian River REC’s 1947 start as the Indian River Field Laboratory, it has served agricultural and natural resources interests with research, Extension and education programs.
Cave was appointed to his new position by Jack Payne, UF senior vice president of agriculture and natural resources.
“In this challenging time for the citrus industry and for other agricultural commodities, we cannot afford a leadership gap even for a few months,” Payne said. “Ron Cave is the right leader for this transition because of his accomplishments as a scientist, his dedication as a mentor and his familiarity with the center. It’s this combination of excellence and stability that makes him an ideal choice for this important role.”
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Faculty, administrators and friends of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences now know even more about the fine foods and beverages produces by UF/IFAS faculty after the annual May 9 Flavors of Florida event.
Jack Payne, UF senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources, commended faculty and thanked friends for attending.
“Flavors of Florida is a chance for UF/IFAS to showcase the many fine foods and beverages developed by our world-renowned scientists to not only make food tastier and more nutritious but to help growers sell more food at the grocery store,” Payne said. “And with the help of our many friends around Florida, we can continue the laboratory and field research necessary to continue producing these incredible foods.”
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Nurseries are very interested in two new early Valencia orange varieties from the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. Growers need help because citrus greening has infected more than 80 percent of Florida’s citrus trees, according to a recent UF/IFAS survey of growers. Although these two new early Valencias are not resistant to greening, the scientist who bred them thinks it’s a harbinger of good things to come.
“Many citrus growers are replacing trees or entire groves severely impacted by greening,” said Jude Grosser, a professor of citrus breeding and genetics at the UF/IFAS Citrus Research and Education Center. “As they replace trees, they now have a chance to replace a poor-quality orange with Valencia types.”
The two new varieties can be harvested beginning in December, about three months earlier than standard Valencia oranges, Grosser said. The traditional early-season Florida orange, the Hamlin, is harvested from November through February, said Grosser, a faculty member at the Lake Alfred, Florida, facility.
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences thanks the many partners who are helping sponsor this year’s Flavors of Florida festivities, an annual event designed to showcase how top-notch science creates delectable, nutritious food and beverages.
Two of those partners for the May 9 event in Gainesville are Straughn Farms, which gave at the platinum level, and Florida Tomatoes, which gave at the gold level.
“The Flavors of Florida features the advances of modern plant breeding that is the foundation of the Tomato Industry,” said Reggie Brown, manager of the Florida Tomato Committee. “The search for the best flavors for Florida Tomatoes is an ongoing effort that provides the opportunity to expand demand. Florida Tomato growers have supported variety improvement for decades. The opportunity to feature the ‘flavor’ simply highlights the advancements of the science of plant genetics. Solutions through applied science is the path to the future of the Florida Tomato grower.”
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Six University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences faculty members, who are trying to solve global issues as wide-ranging as better alternative fuels and nutrient absorption, have been named as UF Research Foundation Professors for 2016-19.
The recognition goes to faculty who demonstrate a distinguished record of research and a strong research agenda that’s likely to continue to distinguish them in their fields.
“UF/IFAS faculty research continuously shows its value in practical ways, but these faculty members stand out because the University of Florida is recognizing their outstanding work,” said UF/IFAS Dean for Research Jackie Burns. “Their scientific research helps solve global issues ranging from potential solutions to citrus greening to growing crops in a changing climate to finding new sources of alternative energy.”