IFAS News

University of Florida

UF/IFAS research may give new hope to expanding avocado production

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

Avocados - CristinaLaurelWiltBest 041816

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FORT PIERCE, Fla. – Findings from new University of Florida research may lead growers to produce avocados in the Indian River region of Florida, an area where the citrus industry has fallen on hard times.

The research comes from a dissertation by Cristina Pisani, who recently completed her doctorate in horticultural sciences at the University of Florida Indian River Research and Education Center near Fort Pierce. The center is part of UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

For her research, Pisani studied a grove of about 150 avocado seedlings collected in California by Rey Schnell, a researcher at the U.S. Department of Agriculture Subtropical Horticulture Research Station in Miami. Schnell identified the true hybrids of avocado Hass and Bacon cultivars. Then the seedlings were planted at the USDA Horticultural Research Laboratory, adjacent to the IRREC.

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UF/IFAS professor wins prestigious national teaching award

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

Thetford.Students

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Mack Thetford, an associate professor based at the UF/IFAS West Florida Research and Education Center, has been selected the 2016 American Society of Horticultural Science Outstanding Undergraduate Educator award. Thetford, whose teaching and research focus on landscape ornamentals and plant propagation, will be honored at the ASHS awards ceremony in Atlanta on Aug. 8.

The ASHS Outstanding Undergraduate Educator award recognizes an educator who has had a distinguished and outstanding undergraduate education teaching career in horticultural science for a period of 10 or more years. Thetford has taught at UF for 21 years.

“Dr. Thetford’s teaching efforts at the WFREC are appreciated, and I am grateful for the depth of knowledge and passion that he brings to the profession,” said Wes Wood, director of the West Florida REC.

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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.”

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Florida citrus growers: 80 percent of trees infected by greening

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

Small lopsided fruit from greening-infected citrus tree.  Spring 2008 Impact Magazine image.  UF/IFAS File Photo.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida’s citrus growers say as much as 90 percent of their acreage and 80 percent of their trees are infected by the deadly greening disease, which is making a huge dent in the state’s $10.7 billion citrus industry, a new University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences survey shows.

The survey, conducted in March 2015, shows the first grower-based estimates of both the level of citrus greening in Florida and the impact of greening on citrus operations in Florida.

“Even though the industry acknowledges that greening has reached epidemic proportions across the state, estimates of the level of infection and its impact on citrus operations are scarce,” the researchers wrote in the paper.

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UF/IFAS recognizes top faculty research

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Aquaculture, Economics, Environment, Honors and Appointments, IFAS, Nutrition, Pests, RECs, Research

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Whether it’s hybrid termites, grain pathogens, mosquito mating or something in between, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers are studying important topics and helping to solve global issues.

The UF/IFAS Research Dean’s Office recently recognized more than two dozen UF/IFAS faculty members for their impactful research, and Dean for Research Jackie Burns said she could not be more proud of the scientists.

“We recognize that these research articles are examples of the many published by UF/IFAS that are highly impactful and help reach solutions to worldwide issues including food shortages, nutrition, diseases and economic development,” Burns said. “Our faculty perform top-quality, globally-recognized scientific work, and we’re proud to recognize them.”

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Mosquito may play key role in transmitting Eastern equine encephalitis in the Southeast

Topic(s): Entomology and Nematology, Families and Consumers, IFAS, RECs, Research

EEE - mosquito species - photo of Culex_erraticus_female_courtesy of Burkett-Cadena 040716

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A mosquito species that’s very abundant in the Southeast may play a more significant role in transmitting Eastern equine encephalitis than originally thought, according to a University of Florida scientist.

Nathan Burkett-Cadena, an assistant professor of entomology at the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, helped investigate the role of the mosquito species known as Culex erraticus and Culista melanura, the latter of which is most commonly associated with spreading the potentially lethal virus.

“Our study shows us how a mosquito that is a relatively poor transmitter of the virus can actually have a huge impact on human health, due to its overwhelming abundance,” Burkett-Cadena said.

The study, published recently online in the Journal of Medical Entomology, was led by Thomas Unnasch, distinguished professor of global health at the University of South Florida.

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Veteran biologist named director of UF/IFAS entomology lab

Topic(s): Entomology and Nematology, Environment, Extension, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Pests, RECs, Research

Jorge Rey 040516

Jorge Rey

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Just as the Zika virus is causing concern worldwide, a University of Florida insect specialist with 36 years of experience at the Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory has been named the lab’s new director.

Professor Jorge Rey started at FMEL, part of the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, in 1979, the year the Vero Beach, Florida, lab came under UF’s umbrella. He moved up the faculty ranks from research scientist to professor in 1994 and was named interim director last year. Now, he’s the lab director, said Jack Payne, UF senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources.

“With his many years of top-quality research and his time as interim director of the Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory, Dr. Rey has earned the respect of the lab’s faculty members. Thus, he’s an ideal fit as director,” Payne said. “Dr. Rey is well-positioned to lead the FMEL scientists to new heights in research and Extension as we continue to look for solutions to mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue, chikungunya and Zika.”

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Local, organic top consumers’ desired qualities in $280 million fruit-producing plant market

Topic(s): Economics, Extension, Families and Consumers, Lawn & Garden, RECs, Research

Grape vine with grapes

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — If you’re a consumer in the market for a fruit-producing plant, you’re more likely to buy one if it’s locally grown or organic, an important finding for those making their living in the approximately $280 million-a-year niche U.S. market, new University of Florida research shows.

Limited availability of organically produced edible plants has created markets for these types of plants, according to a new Extension document, http://bit.ly/21KQ6zb, co-authored by Assistant Professor Hayk Khachatryan and Post-doctoral Researcher Alicia Rihn, both researchers at the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

As part of a larger study, Khachatryan and Rihn tested 95 Floridians to investigate the effects of plant type, price, production method and origin on consumer preferences for fruit-producing plants. They asked participants to look at images of fruit-producing plants with different attributes and rate them on a scale, with 1 being very unlikely and 7 being very likely to purchase.

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UF/IFAS researchers head to Brazil seeking Zika answers

Topic(s): Entomology and Nematology, Families and Consumers, Honors and Appointments, IFAS, RECs, Research

Chelsea Smartt studies the ability of mosquitos to resist pesticides commonly used to control these pests and prevent transmission of disease.

 

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researcher will return to Brazil to study the ability of two mosquito species to transmit the Zika virus.

The yellow fever mosquito – Aedes aegypti – and the Asian tiger mosquito – Aedes albopictus – are considered the main culprits behind the transmission of chikungunya, dengue and zika viruses.

Among other outcomes, this work will provide real-time information about the involvement of the Asian tiger mosquito in the outbreak, as most scientists are focusing on involvement of the yellow fever mosquito, said Chelsea Smartt, UF/IFAS associate professor at the Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory in Vero Beach, Florida. Information gathered by Smartt and her colleagues would improve the ability of mosquito control officials to respond to these viruses ahead of human cases.

“This would aid disease control efforts by being able to detect the virus ahead of human cases,” she said.

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UF/IFAS Urban Landscape Summit set for March 23

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Environment, Extension, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Landscaping, Lawn & Garden, RECs, Research, Soil and Water Science

WHO: The University of Florida IFAS Center for Landscape Conservation and Ecology will host the first Urban Landscape Summit on March 23.

WHAT: All are invited to hear summit speakers discuss water, landscape management, urban pest issues, social issues, economics and more. Presentations will include “Why do we adopt environmentally friendly lawn care?”; “Managing pests in lawn care: Is it necessary?”; and “Smart water application technologies.”

WHERE: The event will be held at the Straughn UF/IFAS Extension Professional Development Center, 2142 Shealy Drive, Gainesville.

WHEN: The summit will be from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday, March 23. For more information, visit http://gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu/clce/events/urban-landscape-summit.html

To register, log onto   http://2016urbanlandscapesummit.eventbrite.com

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By: Beverly James, 352-273-3566, beverlymjames@ufl.edu

Source: Michael Dukes, 352-392-1864, ext. 205, mddukes@ufl.edu

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