University of Florida

UF/IFAS-based PINEMAP project earns national award from USDA

Topic(s): Agriculture, Biofuels, CALS, Conservation, Crops, Economics, Environment, Extension, Forestry, Honors and Appointments, IFAS, Research, Weather


Caption: PINEMAP principal investigator Tim Martin, right, accepts congratulations from Sonny Ramaswamy, director of the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, at the NIFA Partnership Awards ceremony in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, Oct. 6, 2016. (Photo courtesy of USDA-NIFA)

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The PINEMAP project, based within the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, devoted five years to helping the Southeastern planted-pine industry prepare for future production challenges. Now, PINEMAP is being honored with a prestigious national award from the United States Department of Agriculture.

On Thursday, Oct. 6, the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, or NIFA, announced that PINEMAP would receive one of three 2016 NIFA Partnership Awards presented nationwide. The award recognizes PINEMAP for its outstanding performance integrating and fulfilling the education, Extension and research missions common to all land-grant universities.

The award confirms yet again the impact of UF/IFAS programs for one of the state’s most important industries, said Jack Payne, UF senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources.

“Planted pine is cultivated on about 20 million acres throughout the Southeast. This industry is enormously important both economically and environmentally, and the work of PINEMAP was crucial to help secure the industry’s future,” Payne said. “Our UF/IFAS faculty members have shown exemplary leadership and scholarship; this honor is richly deserved.”

PINEMAP involved UF and 10 other southeastern U.S. land-grant institutions, as well as numerous collaborators from government agencies and private industry. The project was launched in February 2011 after leaders obtained one of three $20 million grants awarded concurrently by USDA as part of its Coordinated Agriculture Projects program, meant to strengthen vital domestic crop-production industries. (more …)

UF/IFAS study: Sweet potato crop shows promise as feed and fuel

Topic(s): Agriculture, Biofuels, Crops, Cultivars, Economics, Environment, Extension, IFAS, Livestock, Research, Soil and Water Science

Sweet potato fuel 081516

Please see caption below story.

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.

(more …)

UF/IFAS research could lead to more and healthier sorghum

Topic(s): Agriculture, Biofuels, Crops, Cultivars, Economics, Extension, IFAS, Research

Dr. Wilfred Vermerri, associate professor, Department of Agronomy, performs detailed compositional analyses of improved bioenergy sorghums using a mass spectrometer in his laboratory at the University of Florida Genetics Institute.  2010 Annual Research Report Photo.  UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones.

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.

(more …)

UF/IFAS scientists honored as UF Research Foundation professors

Topic(s): Agriculture, Biofuels, Crops, Cultivars, Economics, Environment, Honors and Appointments, IFAS, Nutrition, RECs, Research, Soil and Water Science

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.”

(more …)

UF/IFAS scientists closer to finding key to converting algae to biofuel

Topic(s): Biofuels, Conservation, Environment, IFAS, Research

Horticulture Professor Balasubramanian Rathinasabapathi (Saba). Experiments, beaker, laboratory. UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers may have found a key to converting algae to fuel.

The scientists have found what researchers call a “transcription factor,” called ROC40. Bala Rathinasabapathi, a UF/IFAS professor of horticultural sciences, likened a transcription factor’s role in controlling the expression of many genes inside the algae cells to a policeman controlling a large crowd. To draw lipids out of algae, scientists must starve the algae of nitrogen. Among the hundreds of proteins modulated by nitrogen starvation, the synthesis of ROC40 was the most induced when the cells made the most oil. The high induction of that protein suggested to scientists that it could be playing an important biological role, said Elton Gonçalves, a former UF/IFAS doctoral student in the plant molecular and cellular biology program. In fact, the team’s research showed that ROC40 helps control lipid production when the algal cells were starved of nitrogen.

“Our discovery about the ROC40 protein suggests that it may be increasing the expression of genes involved in the synthesis of oil in microalgae,” Rathinasabapathi said. “Such information is of great importance for the development of superior strains of algae for biofuel production,” Gonçalves said. “We conducted this research due to the great socioeconomic importance of developing renewable sources of fuels as alternatives for petroleum-based fuels for future generations. In order to advance the production of algal biofuels into a large-scale, competitive scenario, it is fundamental that the biological processes in these organisms are well understood.”

Rathinasabapathi said this information is valuable for the future for engineering algae so it overproduces oil without starving the algae of nitrogen.

Lipids from microalgae provide an excellent renewable source for biofuels. The algae grow quickly, tolerate extreme weather conditions and do not pose the same issues as biofuel crops that are grown both for fuel and food.

The rub was if algae are deprived of nitrogen, the cells become stressed and begin to produce lipids, but their growth rate slows. And if alga is going to become a commercially viable fuel source, scientists must ensure that not only can it produce as much oil as possible, but also that it can grow as fast as possible.

Rathinasabapathi and Gonçalves co-authored the study, which has been accepted for publication in The Plant Journal. Other collaborators were Sixue Chen, an associate professor of biology and faculty director of the UF proteomics and mass spectrometry, part of the Interdisciplinary Center for Biotechnology Research; Jodie Johnson, an assistant scientist at the mass spectrometry facility at UF and Takuya Matsuo, an assistant professor at Nagoya University in Japan.


Caption: UF/IAFS Horticulture Professor Balasubramanian Rathinasabapathi, seen here working in his Gainesville lab, has found what could be a big key to converting microalgae to biofuel. He and former doctoral student Elton Gonçalves found that the transcription factor ROC40 helps control lipid production when the algal cells were starved of nitrogen.

Credit: Tyler Jones, UF/IFAS photography.

By: Brad Buck, 352-294-3303, bradbuck@ufl.edu

Sources: Bala Rathinasabapathi, 352-273-4847, brath@ufl.edu

Elton Gonçalves, 352-301-6049, egoncalves@newmexicoconsortium.org

6 UF/IFAS faculty named as Research Foundation professors

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Biofuels, Citrus, Crops, Economics, Environment, Food Safety, Forestry, Honors and Appointments, IFAS, Livestock, New Technology, RECs, Research

Robert Fletcher photographed for the 2011 FAES Awards.  UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler JonesRESEARCHFOUNDATION - Danyluk 041015Jim Jones (left), Bin Gao (seated), and Pratap Pullammanappallil.  Innovation Awards Portrait.  UF/IFAS File Photo.Zhenli He. Associate Professor, Soil and Water Science.Jose SantosRESEARCHFOUNDATION - Peter 041015
Pictured top (left to right) Robert Fletcher, Michelle Danyluk and Bin Gao; second row (left to right) Zhenli He, Jose Eduardo Santos and Gary Peter.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Six University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences faculty members, who are trying to solve global issues like food safety and environmental sustainability, have been named as UF Research Foundation Professors for 2015-18.

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.

“When I look at the breadth of research exemplified by these talented scientists, I am reminded of the complexity and breadth of the IFAS mission, and how fortunate we are to have people of such high caliber working in a university that places such a high value on research and invests so heavily in the research enterprise,” said Doug Archer, UF/IFAS associate dean of research.

(more …)

UF/IFAS process can convert human-generated waste into fuel in space

Topic(s): Biofuels, Environment, New Technology, Research

Pratap Pullammanappallil poses in his lab next to an anaerobic digester, which turns human waste into rocket fuel on October, 24, 2014.

See cutline below

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Human waste may have a new use: sending NASA spacecraft from the moon back to Earth.

Until now, the waste has been collected to burn up on re-entry. What’s more, like so many other things developed for the space program, the process could well turn up on Earth, said Pratap Pullammanappallil, a University of Florida associate professor of agricultural and biological engineering.

“It could be used on campus or around town, or anywhere, to convert waste into fuel,” Pullammanappallil said.

In 2006, NASA began making plans to build an inhabited facility on the moon’s surface between 2019 and 2024. As part of NASA’s moon-base goal, the agency wanted to reduce the weight of spacecraft retuning to Earth. Historically, waste generated during spaceflight would not be used further. NASA stores it in containers until it’s loaded into space cargo vehicles that burn as they pass back through the Earth’s atmosphere. For future long-term missions, though, it would be impractical to bring all the stored waste back to Earth.

(more …)

UF/IFAS researchers target eucalyptus as source of fuel for biomass production

Topic(s): Agriculture, Biofuels, Environment, IFAS, Research

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers working to produce ethanol from plant material are taking a hard look at eucalyptus as a possible source for the clean fuel.

Joe Sagues, director of operations at the University of Florida’s Stan Mayfield Biorefinery Pilot Plant in Perry, Florida, and Ismael Uriel Nieves, project director at the plant, recently switched the focus of their lab-scale research from sugarcane and sorghum to eucalyptus for this study. They say the tree, most commonly associated with Australia and food for koalas, is a fast-growing hardwood that is easier to store and transport. (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 …)

UF/IFAS researcher named a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Biofuels, IFAS, New Technology

Lonnie INgram

GAINESVILLE, Fla.— The National Academy of Inventors named as a Fellow this month Lonnie O. Ingram, a distinguished professor in the University of Florida’s microbiology and cell science department.

Academic inventors and innovators elected to the rank of NAI Fellow were nominated by their peers and it is considered a high professional distinction. NAI members chose Ingram because he has “demonstrated a prolific spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development, and the welfare of society.”

“It’s an unexpected honor and I’m happy to be included among this group,” Ingram said Thursday. (more …)

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