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IFAS News

University of Florida

Two most destructive termite species forming superswarms in South Florida, UF/IFAS study finds

Topic(s): IFAS, Pests, RECs, Research

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UF/IFAS entomology Professor Nan-Yao Su

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Two of the most destructive termite species in the world — responsible for much of the $40 billion in economic loss caused by termites annually — are now swarming simultaneously in South Florida, creating hybrid colonies that grow quickly and have the potential to migrate to other states.

In an article published today in the journal PLOS ONE, a team of University of Florida entomologists has documented that the Asian and Formosan subterranean termite simultaneously produce hundreds of thousands of alates, or winged males and females. Both species have evolved separately for thousands of years, but in South Florida, they now have the opportunity to meet, mate and start new hybrid colonies.

While researchers have yet to determine if the hybrid termite is fertile or sterile, it likely poses a danger, said Nan-Yao Su, an entomology professor at the UF Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center, part of UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

“Because a termite colony can live up to 20 years with millions of individuals, the damaging potential of a hybrid colony remains a serious threat to homeowners even if the hybrid colony does not produce fertile winged termites,” Su said. “This is especially true when the colony exhibits hybrid vigor as we witnessed in the laboratory.”

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UF/IFAS research, breeding showcased at Flavors of Florida

Topic(s): Announcements, Citrus, Crops, Cultivars, Economics, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Nutrition, RECs, Research

UF/IFAS Flavors of Florida 2015

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Faculty from the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences produce some of the nation’s tastiest fruits and vegetables.

Researchers at UF’s Plant Innovation Center breed new cultivars and conduct research to boost the taste, smell and appearance of Florida fruits, vegetables and foliage. But the PIC does much more, said UF environmental horticulture Professor David Clark.

“The big thing is this: No other university in the country can pull off what we’ve put together here, so we are novel,” Clark said. “We cover the whole supply chain, from the conception of an idea to the realization of a product.”

UF faculty, administrators and friends gathered Monday at the UF president’s house in Gainesville for Flavors of Florida 2015, a premier event showcasing the edible research products of the UF/IFAS Plant Innovation Center. Industry leaders, donors and guests savored the sensations of tasty tomatoes, flavor-filled fruits and other Sunshine State food and drinks while learning more about the impact that UF/IFAS makes for the agriculture industry. This is the second year the event has been held.

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Joseph Albano is new director of UF/IFAS Mid-Florida Research and Education Center

Topic(s): Announcements, IFAS, RECs, Research

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Joseph Albano

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Joseph Albano, a research horticulturist from the U.S. Department of Agriculture with more than 25 years of experience, has been appointed director of the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Mid-Florida Research and Education Center in Apopka, Florida.

The director position entails helping faculty, meeting with colleagues and faculty at other research and education centers around the state, handling administrative matters from UF’s main campus, solving problems and representing the Mid-Florida region of UF/IFAS to customers and stakeholders.

“For me, the job itself was one that I felt I was ready for,” Albano said. “I am excited to lead a team of great faculty and to be able to implement my own ideas and goals and build this center into a place that can better serve our valued customers and stakeholders. We have some really good people here at the Center and I think that one of the joys I look forward to is developing young faculty to be productive and get through the tenure and promotion process.”

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UF/IFAS awarded funding to fight citrus greening

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Citrus, Crops, Economics, IFAS, RECs, Research

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Researchers at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences have been awarded more than $13.4 million for four studies to help fight citrus greening, the devastating disease that threatens Florida’s $10 billion citrus industry.

The projects are funded through the Specialty Crop Initiative Citrus Disease Research and Education (CDRE) program, which is made available through the Agricultural Act of 2014, also known as the Farm Bill.

The following UF/IFAS research projects were funded:

  • $4.6 million to develop an environmentally safe, systematic bacteriacide that can be applied with conventional spray or drench technology to reduce or eliminate pathogens in citrus trees. The goal is to recover fruit production in greening-affected orchards.
  • $3.4 million to support ways to provide steam-generated treatments as an immediate, short-term solution to sustain productivity in HLB-affected trees, while reducing adverse effects on crop yield and fruit quality.
  • $3.3 million to try to develop an HLB-resistant citrus cultivar.
  • $2.9 million target the use of field trials in Florida to develop and effective microbial treatment for citrus plants affected by HLB.
  • UF/IFAS is also partnering with the University of California-Davis on a $4.6-million grant that focuses on using new approaches to manage the Asian citrus psyllid, will assess the economic benefits of these approaches and will develop new outreach information.

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Bicyclists willing to ride up to 3 miles to catch bus, train, UF/IFAS study shows

Topic(s): Conservation, Environment, Families and Consumers, Green Living, IFAS, RECs, Research

Students commute on bicycles through campus.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. – If three American metro areas are any indication, few people ride their bicycles to a bus or train station to commute to work, and those who do only travel an average of 1 to 2 miles. That suggests to a University of Florida researcher that American cities should make the 2-mile radius around transit hubs more bike-friendly.

Methods to do so could include installing bicycle lanes separated from vehicular traffic, adding off-street multipurpose paths for pedestrians and bicyclists and converting car lanes to bike-only lanes, said UF geomatics Associate Professor Henry Hochmair.

Hochmair reached his conclusions by studying data collected by transit agencies from passengers who rode trains and buses in three metro areas – Atlanta, Los Angeles and Minneapolis-St. Paul.

From those who completed the survey, Hochmair analyzed trips from 157 people in Los Angeles, 66 in Atlanta and 99 in Minneapolis who rode their bikes to access transit – 2.3 percent, 0.3 percent, and 4.2 percent, respectively. In Hochmair’s data analysis, those who opted to ride a bike to a transit hub cycled an average of 1 to 2 miles in Atlanta and the Twin Cities and 3 miles in Los Angeles.

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UF/IFAS scientists find potential biological control for avocado-ravaging disease

Topic(s): Agriculture, Biocontrols, Crops, Economics, Pests, RECs

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida scientists believe they’ve found what could be the first biological control strategy against laurel wilt, a disease that threatens the state’s $54 million-a-year avocado industry.

Red ambrosia beetles bore holes into healthy avocado trees, bringing with them the pathogen that causes laurel wilt. Growers control the beetles that carry and spread laurel wilt by spraying insecticides on the trees, said Daniel Carrillo, an entomology research assistant professor at the Tropical Research and Education Center in Homestead.

But a team of researchers from the Tropical REC and the Indian River Research and Education Center in Fort Pierce have identified a potential biological control to use against redbay ambrosia beetles that could help growers use less insecticide.

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Range Cattle Research and Education Center dedicates new education building

Topic(s): Announcements, Extension, IFAS, Livestock, RECs

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Cattlemen, Extension agents and other stakeholders soon can attend educational events at a new University of Florida facility dedicated to teaching how to manage the state’s grazing lands.

Officials dedicated and opened the Grazinglands Education Building Nov. 20 at UF’s Range Cattle Research and Education Center in Ona. At the same time, they recognized major donors and highlighted their “Campaign for Ona.”

About 6 million acres in Florida are used for grazing, said Range Cattle REC Director John Arthington.

The Grazinglands Education Building was made possible by more than $380,000 in private donations, state and federal money, Arthington said. The initial gift, a $150,000 grant awarded by the Mosaic Company Foundation, started the building’s construction. Most of the remaining funds came from the Florida Cattlemen’s Foundation, said Arthington, an Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences faculty member.

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UF/IFAS mosquito-feeding study may help stem dangerous viruses

Topic(s): Entomology and Nematology, RECs, Research, Safety

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Mosquitoes bite male birds nearly twice as often as they bite females, a finding that may help scientists understand how to stem some viruses from spreading to humans, new University of Florida research shows.

In findings published online today in Royal Society Open Science, UF entomology assistant professor Nathan Burkett-Cadena found mosquitoes bite male birds 64 percent of the time, compared to 36 percent for females.

This marks the first step for scientists to try to determine why mosquitoes bite men more often than women in some parts of the world and vice versa in other areas, said Burkett-Cadena, who is based at the Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory in Vero Beach.

“Understanding why mosquitoes bite males more often than females may lead to novel strategies for interrupting disease transmission,” said Burkett-Cadena, an Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences faculty member.

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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

North Florida REC to unveil new cattle fence and gates at Beef/Forage Day

Topic(s): Announcements, Livestock, RECs

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — North Florida ranchers are being prodded to attend this year’s annual Beef and Forage Day at the University of Florida’s North Florida Research and Education Center in Marianna on Friday, Oct. 3.

All things bull and cow, along with what to feed them, will be discussed.  In addition, REC leaders will be showing off a new $275,000 cattle fence and gate. The Florida Cattlemen’s Association helped secure the project’s funding from state legislators.

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