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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — With citrus growers trying to save their groves in the wake of the deadly greening disease, a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researcher has found a new technique that could help growers answer a vexing question – why so much fruit is dropping to the ground prematurely.
If we know why fruit is dropping, we can better figure out what caused it to drop – factors such as temperature, wind, humidity, rainfall, citrus greening or other factors, said Wonsuk “Daniel” Lee, a UF/IFAS professor of agricultural and biological engineering.
While there is no known cure for greening, it’s important to know its locations and how much damage the disease caused at those sites so growers can mitigate the disease, a new study led by Lee says.
One indicator of the severity of damage is the number of dropped fruit. The other is how much the fruit has decayed once on the ground.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — While almost half of Floridians acknowledge buying genetically modified foods, a recent survey by the Center for Public Issues Education in Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Florida reveals that most people want to know much more about those foods.
“The study shows that Floridians believe they don’t know much about genetically modified foods and their benefits,” said Joy Rumble, assistant professor in agricultural education and communication at the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. “Many people are favorable to supporting research, and they think it’s essential that government support it. Floridians see a place for GM foods, but they do have hesitations.”
The PIE Center surveyed 500 Floridians on their perceptions of genetically modified foods. Respondents were largely unsure about the potential benefits of genetically modified food, with more than 40 percent neither agreeing nor disagreeing that food technology such as GMOs allows people to live longer or better lives.
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A new test could save time and money diagnosing plant viruses, some of which can destroy millions of dollars in crops each year in Florida, says a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researcher.
In a newly published study, Jane Polston, a UF/IFAS plant pathology professor, examined several ways to detect the DNA genome of begomoviruses. These viruses have emerged over the last 30 years to become plant pathogens that threaten crop production in tropical and sub-tropical regions globally.
Polston and her research colleagues found that a certain test called “recombinase polymerase amplification” identified the cause of a disease faster and cheaper than the commonly used polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test – or “assay,” as scientists call them.
UF/IFAS scientists learned of this new type of test that’s fast, sensitive and cheaper than some other methods, and they adapted the new technology and modified it to test for several whitefly-transmitted viruses found in Florida, Polston said.
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers have found a new way to detect immature citrus 83 percent of the time, which lets growers know where to apply fertilizer and water and perhaps save on labor costs for the $10.9 billion a year Florida industry.
By detecting green, immature citrus more accurately and efficiently, growers can plan when and where to apply nutrients when fruit is growing and estimate their yield and profit before harvest, said Daniel Lee, a UF/IFAS professor of agricultural and biological engineering.
Using a consumer-grade digital camera, Lee and his colleagues calculated color differences between the fruit and non-fruit objects, and identified fruit using a pre-determined fruit template. They also removed any incorrectly detected fruit via a shape analysis, Lee said. In a newly published study, scientists took 126 images of fruit on trees and detected 83 percent immature citrus, using a camera and the new algorithm. This method is different than the previous ones, which can detect fruit from the images taken farther away from the trees.
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Not all fungal infections are bad for plants—in fact, some of them are critical for plant survival, according University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers.
The UF/IFAS Applications and Analyses of Mycorrhizal Associations course teaches participants how to harness the power of these beneficial fungi. Andy Ogram, professor of soil and water sciences, and Abid Al Agely, senior biological scientist, co-founded the course.
Mycorrhizal fungi live in the soil and have a symbiotic relationship with plants. “The fungi actually function like part of the root systems,” and can be cooperative with 90 percent of plants, said Ogram. This mutually beneficial relationship is called a mycorrhizal association and is technically an infection, though a positive one.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida researchers have found an algorithm to help them detect laurel wilt, the deadly pathogen that threatens Florida’s $100 million-a-year avocado industry.
Reza Ehsani, an associate professor of agricultural and biological engineering, said the algorithm finds laurel wilt-infected avocado trees before symptoms are visible to the naked eye. About 500 growers produce Florida’s avocado crop annually, and more than 98 percent of the fruit is grown in Miami-Dade County. UF scientists estimate laurel wilt could severely reduce the commercial avocado industry if they don’t find control strategies for the pathogen and ambrosia beetles.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A web-based irrigation system developed by researchers at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences saved 21 percent in water use without reducing growth of container-grown landscape plants, a new study shows.
While UF/IFAS scientists say a Virginia nursery is the only one utilizing the system so far, they hope similar businesses take advantage of the software, so they can reap its benefits in saved water and money. For now, scientists are interested in the irrigation needs of container-grown plants such as anise, gardenias, azaleas, junipers, roses and more.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Two former doctoral students from the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences are running a genetics startup company in Gainesville and recently were recognized by Gov. Rick Scott as “Young Entrepreneurs.”
Marcio Resende said he came up with the idea for RAPiD Genomics while in Brazil due to a demand from a forestry company that needed someone to do some genotyping for them. Several factors, including costs, kept him from pursuing the notion.
But when he came to the United States to pursue his doctorate, he started talking to Leandro Gomide Neves, a fellow doctoral student, and Matias Kirst, a professor of forest genomics at UF/IFAS. They decided to open RAPiD Genomics. At the same time, they teamed up with some colleagues to invent a genotyping method, which gave them extra motivation to pursue the idea of opening a business.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — An app developed by scientists at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences may save homeowners about 30 percent on water usage, which translates into lower utility bills, new research shows.
Kati Migliaccio, the lead designer of the irrigation app, led a study at the UF/IFAS Tropical Research and Education Center in Homestead, Florida. Through their research, scientists found the app saved 42 percent to 57 percent of the water used with time-scheduled irrigation.
Researchers working on an oyster bar survey off of the coast of Cedar Key, Florida.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Oysters thrive under brackish conditions, and now a University of Florida study reveals that the bivalves can actually help create the mix of fresh water and brine they crave.
While evaluating a new method of restoring degraded oyster reefs, researchers with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and UF’s College of Engineering confirmed an observation that Cedar Key-area oystermen have made for years – some oyster reefs act as natural dams, impounding fresh water that flows seaward from nearby creeks and rivers.
The result: large areas of reduced-salinity water that help maintain near-shore estuarine habitats supporting oysters, sea grasses, juvenile game fish and invertebrates important to the marine food chain as well as seafood production and recreational opportunities for people.
This finding, published in a report available at http://www.projects.tnc.org/coastal, could aid ecological and fishery restoration projects along Florida’s Big Bend Coast, a largely undeveloped area bordering the Gulf of Mexico between Wakulla and Pasco counties, said project leader Peter Frederick, a professor with UF/IFAS’ Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation.
The Big Bend Coast is one of the nation’s few coastal areas featuring numerous oyster reefs that run parallel to shore and stand above the water’s surface at low tide. The study site, off the Levy County coast, is a chain of oyster reefs punctuated by a few openings that allow seawater to mix with fresh water that the reef holds back as it empties into the Gulf of Mexico from the Suwannee River.
“We’ve known about other ecosystem services that oyster reefs provide, like acting as breakwaters that reduce the impact of wave action on the shore,” Frederick said. “But the role of oyster reefs in modulating the salinity of water near the shore had not been demonstrated before.” (more …)