University of Florida

UF/IFAS Everglades REC offers free plant workshop to middle, high school teachers on Sept. 27

Topic(s): Agriculture, Crops, Departments, Environment, IFAS, Invasive Species, Lawn & Garden, Pests, RECs

Arabidopsis trials in the lab as part of Ana Lisa Paul's plants in space research program.  Photo taken 01/29/16.

BELLE GLADE, Fla. — Want to teach your students the good, the bad and the ugly about plants while incorporating three different sciences? Researchers at the UF/IFAS Everglades Research and Education Center will lead the second annual workshop, “Don’t Get Caught with Your Plants Down,” from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 27.

The free workshop will be held at UF/IFAS Everglades Research and Education Center, 3200 East Canal Street, Belle Glade, Florida. Breakfast and lunch will be provided, and in-service points for professional development will be awarded by school districts through Master Inservice Plans (MIP).

This year’s program, developed by the UF/IFAS department of plant pathology, uses resources available from the American Phytopathological Society, said Richard Raid, a professor of plant pathology and workshop organizer. Middle and high school teachers will take back vital information to students on the importance of plants in daily life, he said.

Florida is home to the most invasive species in the country, and many travel in to the state via plants, Raid explained.

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UF/IFAS researcher: Insects increase metabolism to adapt to dramatic weather change

Topic(s): Agriculture, Departments, Entomology and Nematology, Environment, IFAS, Pests, Research

Daniel Hahn, an associate professor with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, displays the type of flies he and former postdoctoral associate Giancarlo López-Martínez sterilized under a low-oxygen environment. Their studies demonstrate that doing so results in sterile flies who remain attractive suitors for mates than their counterparts sterilized in normal-oxygen conditions. UF/IFAS photo by Marisol Amador.


GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A recent study led by a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researcher found that an insect has evolved metabolically in response to an increase in weather cold snaps.

Daniel Hahn, an associate professor in the entomology and nematology department at UF/IFAS, led a team of researchers from UF, the University of California Berkeley, the University of Alabama-Birmingham and Kansas State University in the study of the fly, Drosophila melanogaster. Researchers found that selection to recover more quickly from cold snaps also drove the evolution of higher metabolic rates.

“While we hear a lot about warmer weather in spring and fall, weather fronts will continue to bring bouts of cold,” said Hahn, whose research focuses on ecological and evolutionary physiology. “This makes the transitions from warm to cold temperatures more extreme, and increases the vulnerability of animals and plants to damage from snap freezes.

“Small animals that rely on the environment to regulate their body temperature—like insects, frogs, and even sea turtles—are also susceptible to stress and even death from extreme cold fronts. We found clear changes in metabolism of the fly as it evolves and adapts to the cold snaps.”

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UF/IFAS researchers scramble to find cure for tenacious, costly sugarcane virus

Topic(s): Agriculture, Crops, Departments, Entomology and Nematology, IFAS, Invasive Species, Pests, RECs, Research

1-Sugarcane leaf with yellowing of lower midrib

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Researchers with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences are working to find a cure or develop resistant varieties for a virus that is attacking sugarcane and sorghum throughout the Everglades agricultural region. Florida produces more than 50 percent of all sugarcane in the United States, making it the largest producer in the nation.

The sugarcane yellow leaf virus was first identified in Hawaii during the 1980s. The virus was found in Florida in 1993, said Philippe Rott, a professor of plant pathology at the UF/IFAS Everglades Research and Education Center in Belle Glade, Florida. Symptoms include a yellow stripe down the middle of sugarcane leaves, he said.

“The virus travels down the vascular bundle of the plant and interferes with the movement of nutrients,” Rott said. “This, in turn, stunts the growth of the plant.”

The virus is carried by an aphid, a tiny bug that feeds by sucking sap from plants, said Gregg Nuessly, director of UF/IFAS Everglades REC and a professor of entomology. Nuessly’s and Rott’s research has identified the carrier of the virus, and trials are in progress to see if insecticides are effective at killing the aphid.

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UF/IFAS hires Eminent Scholar to help in fight against citrus greening

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Citrus, Departments, Entomology and Nematology, IFAS, Pests

Bryony Bonning

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences has added another soldier in its battle against citrus greening by hiring world-renowned entomologist Bryony Bonning. She has been named Eminent Scholar with tenure in the UF/IFAS entomology and nematology department.

Currently, Bonning is a professor of entomology at Iowa State University and director of the National Science Foundation Center for Arthropod Management Technologies, where she oversees cutting-edge research on insect physiology and pathology, and biotechnology. Bonning is a recognized authority in the development of new technologies for insect pest management, and a fellow of the Entomological Society of America and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

“Dr. Bonning brings an outstanding record of accomplishment and cooperation, and we are confident she will work tirelessly to develop solutions for citrus pest management,” said Blair Siegfried, chair of the UF/IFAS entomology and nematology department. “Her combined experience and achievements make her ideally suited and deserving of the position.”

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Seven UF/IFAS CALS students, alumni qualify for Rio Olympics

Topic(s): Announcements, CALS, Departments, IFAS
Eduardo Solaeche

Eduardo Solaeche

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — If you are watching the Olympic games, you may catch students and alumni of the University of Florida. Seven of the 30 UF Gators who qualified to compete in the Rio Olympics are current or former students of the UF/IFAS College of Agricultural and Life Sciences.

“We are so proud of our students and alumni, who are not only representing the university and CALS, but also represent their home country at the world’s most elite competition,” said CALS Dean Elaine Turner.

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UF/IFAS plans workshop to teach site preparation for herbicide usage

Topic(s): Agriculture, Crops, Departments, Environment, Extension, IFAS, RECs

QUINCY, Fla.— University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension will host the Advanced Forest Site Prep Herbicide Workshop in Quincy, Florida to teach advanced techniques in herbicide applications.

The Advanced Forest Site Prep Herbicide Workshop is for natural resource managers who are responsible for site preparation decisions or implementation. The workshop will take place on July 13 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the UF/IFAS North Florida Research and Education Center.

This workshop will teach participants how to properly prepare a planting site for herbicide usage, review advanced technology in aerial application, different types of forestry surfactants and how herbicides work. There will also be a prescription process where experts will help participants diagnose a suitable herbicide program for the best vegetation management.

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UF/IFAS Mole Cricket Biological Control Program saves state millions

Topic(s): Agriculture, Departments, Economics, Environment, Extension, IFAS, Invasive Species, Pests, RECs, Research

Howard Frank,left and Tom Walker check two-part trap that uses synthesized mole cricket calls to monitor both mole crickets and the beneficial flies that locate their hosts by sounds.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — In a recent study, researchers with the University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences in cooperation with Florida A&M University economists estimated that a 34-year program to control invasive pest mole crickets in the state has saved cattlemen approximately 13.6 million dollars a year. Over the long term, that figure balloons to 453 million dollars.

“The partnership with the State of Florida has been crucial to controlling the mole crickets,” said Norm Leppla, a UF/IFAS professor of entomology and nematology. “The Mole Cricket Biological Control Program has been worth every penny invested by the Florida Legislature and other stakeholders in the state.”

UF/IFAS researchers remember when the mole crickets reached outbreak levels in Florida during the mid-1900s and began wreaking hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of damage to crops, pastures and turf. Cattlemen were beside themselves as they watched the tiny insects tear across their pastures like a biblical swarm of locusts. The effects were devastating, but not irreversible.

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UF/IFAS Dairy Unit researchers keep cows cool, productive

Topic(s): Agriculture, Departments, IFAS, Livestock, Research
Dairy cows being milked in a milking parlour at the Shenandoah Dairy Farm. Milking, milk production. UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones.

UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – June is National Dairy Month and the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Dairy Unit is studying ways to get more milk and cheese to your table. But it’s no easy task to keep cows cool enough to produce in the scorching Florida sun.

That’s where researchers with the UF/IFAS Dairy Unit, in Hague, Florida come in. “It is difficult for a dairy cow in a hot environment to meet her full potential for either milk yield or fertility,” said Geoff Dahl, chair of the UF/IFAS animal sciences department. “The physiological adjustments the cow makes to prevent body temperature from rising during heat stress reduce productivity.”

This is especially true for cows in their dry period—cows in late pregnancy or who are not lactating. “These are times when we don’t milk the cows, because for six to eight weeks they don’t produce milk,” Dahl explained.

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Researchers honored at 9th annual UF/IFAS FAES Research Award ceremony

Topic(s): Announcements, Departments, Honors and Appointments, IFAS, Research

2016 Agricultural Experiment Station Research Awards Ceremony at the Harn Museum of Art on Thursday, May 19th.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers were honored for helping combat diseases affecting global agriculture, developing new plant varieties and conducting other impactful research and developments in the past year at the ninth annual UF/IFAS Florida Agricultural Experiment Station Research Awards ceremony.

“Our researchers don’t think the sky is falling; they believe that the sky is the limit,” said Jackie Burns, dean for UF/IFAS Research. “It is a privilege to be associated with faculty who are the best and brightest.”

Awards were given for the best thesis and dissertation from master’s and Ph.D. students in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. Honors were also bestowed to the UF/IFAS 2015 University of Florida Research Foundation Professors, researchers who produced outstanding publications and those who developed new plant and utility patents. Some of the patents included a highly rated variety of tomato called “Garden Gem,” six new varieties of the Coleus plant, including “Gator Glory,” and an invention to control flies and mosquitoes.

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Myers named Chair of UF/IFAS department of agricultural education and communication

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, CALS, Departments, Honors and Appointments, IFAS

Brian Myers

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Brian Myers has been named Chair of the University of Florida’s department of agricultural education and communication. The department, in the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, is considered among the country’s best in developing leaders, educators and communicators to meet society’s challenges.

Myers is a professor whose research interests include agriscience, curriculum development, agriscience instructional methods, and the design and delivery of teacher professional development. He has advised more than 35 graduate students, and served on the supervisory committee for dozens more.

“Dr. Myers has dedicated his academic life to agricultural education and communication, and we at the University of Florida, the state and the country benefit from his drive to be a positive influencer to the profession,” said Jack Payne, senior vice president of agriculture and natural resources. “He truly is an asset, and our students, faculty and citizens all reap the rewards of his commitment.”

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