IFAS News

University of Florida

As UF/IFAS CREC turns 100, it celebrates decades working with Florida Department of Citrus

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

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — As the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Citrus Research and Education Center celebrates its 100th anniversary, administrators are praising a decades-long relationship between researchers with CREC and the Florida Department of Citrus in bringing healthy, nutritious fruit and juice to your home.

“Housing the FDOC and CREC scientists at the same location has brought together the expertise needed to address any issue facing the Florida citrus industry, from the field to the grocery store shelf, and everywhere in between,” said Michael Rogers, director of the Citrus REC. “We’ve had a long and productive history working together to support the Florida citrus industry and continue to do so, as we are both working together to develop solutions for citrus greening disease.”

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Consumers will normally pay more for organic products – but not wine

Topic(s): Agriculture, Crops, Economics, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Research

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — You swish around a sip of organic wine in your mouth and it might tempt your taste buds, but that doesn’t mean you’ll pay more for it, a new University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences study shows.

For the study, former UF/IFAS graduate student Lane Abraben, used an economic model to determine if consumers are willing to pay more for organic wine. Abraben specifically examined wine consumed from the Tuscany region of Italy. But his adviser, Kelly Grogan, a UF/IFAS assistant professor of food and resource economics, said the research findings likely apply to any organically produced wine.

For many products, organic production costs more than conventional production; thus, to make organic products more viable, consumers must be willing to pay more, Grogan said.

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UF/IFAS scientists find Zika RNA in a second mosquito species

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

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences molecular biologist has found Zika RNA in a type of mosquito not often associated with the virus.

UF/IFAS entomology associate professor Chelsea Smartt led a research team that found Zika RNA in Aedes albopictus. That’s not the species — known as Aedes aegypti — most often associated with Zika. But scientists have never discounted Aedes albopictus as another possible carrier of the potentially deadly virus.

Brazil has the highest number of reported Zika virus cases worldwide, with more than 200,000 as of December 2016. So, Smartt set her sights on tracking down Zika-infected mosquitoes in Camacari, Brazil, near the Atlantic coast.

Smartt and her research team collected 20 female and 19 male Aedes albopictus mosquitoes as eggs, raised them to adults and tested the adults for the Zika virus RNA. They found five of them positive for Zika RNA, Smartt said.

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Delectable delights highlight Flavors of Florida

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Aquaculture, Citrus, Crops, Cultivars, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Nutrition, Plants, Research, Vegetables

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — UF/IFAS scientists toil for years creating and enhancing many of the foods we consume and plants we enjoy. When it comes to plant breeding, UF/IFAS is a global leader. In fact, UF/IFAS is ranked as a top-10 horticulture program in the 2017 Center for World University Rankings.

Many of UF/IFAS’ tastiest creations will be available for consumption or on display at this year’s Flavors of Florida event.

Scheduled for April 24 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the University House, 2151 W. University Ave., Gainesville, Florida, the event offers guests an opportunity to sample foods containing UF/IFAS-developed ingredients prepared by local celebrity chefs. This year’s sample dishes will include citrus, tomatoes, meats, strawberries, blueberries and olive oil to tempt the taste buds. Additionally, non-edible plants, such as a relatively new cultivar of Mexican petunia, also will be showcased.

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The problem expands for avocado growers: More beetle species carry deadly fungus

Topic(s): Agriculture, Crops, Economics, Entomology and Nematology, Environment, Extension, IFAS, RECs, Research

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Many people love their avocados – not to mention guacamole dip. So it was bad enough when scientists said a beetle was ravaging avocado trees in South Florida. Then scientists found out that the redbay ambrosia beetle — originally determined to transmit laurel wilt — is rare in avocado groves but that six other beetle species could carry the laurel wilt pathogen.

That’s more species for scientists to track down and study. University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences economists have estimated avocados bring a $100 million-a-year economic impact to South Florida.

In a new study, UF/IFAS plant pathology professor Randy Ploetz said scientists found three more types of beetles that can carry the pathogen that can kill avocado trees.

Scientist say they still don’t know how many species of ambrosia beetle transmit the fungus that causes laurel wilt, also known as Raffaelea lauricola. To serve as a “vector,” the insect must interact with the tree and the pathogen, and that interaction is hard to study, said Ploetz, a faculty member at the UF/IFAS Tropical Research and Education Center in Homestead, Florida.

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Nutrients are nice, but produce better pass the taste test

Topic(s): Agriculture, Extension, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Nutrition, Research, Vegetables

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Consumers want produce that tickles their taste buds and is easy on the eye, but they think quality fruits and vegetables are a matter of luck, according to University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers.

The fact that consumers purchase produce to satisfy their senses – not necessarily for its nutrients — should prove particularly important for growers and grocers to understand, UF/IFAS researchers say.

“They choose based on aroma and appearance,” said Amy Simonne, a professor in the UF/IFAS family, youth and community sciences department and lead author of this research. “Consumers might want to change the way they choose fruit.”

Jeff Brecht, a UF/IFAS professor of horticultural sciences and a study co-author, said the appearance of produce does not always correlate well with its flavor or aroma.

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UF/IFAS entomology department, others take top spots in global ranking

Topic(s): Announcements, CALS, Departments, Entomology and Nematology, Honors and Appointments, IFAS, Invasive Species, Research

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Center for World University Rankings has named the University of Florida entomology department first in the world among more than 26,000 degree-granting institutions of higher education. Other programs in the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences also ranked in the top 10.

The Center for World University Rankings is the only global university performance table to judge world-class universities across all of their core missions – teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook. The center measures the quality of education and training of students as well as the prestige of the faculty members, and the quality of their research without relying on surveys and university data submissions.

“The quality and recognition of our program are the result of a dedicated group of faculty, staff and students,” said UF/IFAS entomology department chair Blair Siegfried. “They are committed to education, to solving important questions of both applied and fundamental significance, and to providing timely and important information to the citizens of Florida.”

The center ranked several UF/IFAS programs in the top 10:

  • Entomology (World Rank: 1, Score: 100.00)
  • Mycology (World Rank: 8, Score: 83.42)
  • Agriculture, Dairy and Animal Science (World Rank: 9, Score: 92.56)
  • Biodiversity Conservation (World Rank: 9, Score: 89.55)
  • Horticulture (World Rank: 9, Score: 90.63).

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

 

Bumblebees boost blueberry yield

Topic(s): Agriculture, Crops, Economics, Entomology and Nematology, Environment, Extension, IFAS, Research

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Bumblebees can boost blueberry yield by 70 percent, good news for Florida growers in the heart of their blueberry season, a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences study shows.

The news also accentuates the need for blueberry pollinators, said Joshua Campbell, a post-doctoral researcher in the UF/IFAS entomology and nematology department.

After caging bumblebee hives with highbush blueberry bushes, researchers found that 70 percent of the flowers produced blueberries, while less than 10 percent of those without bumblebee hives produced blueberries. That’s helpful news for blueberry growers, said Campbell, co-author of a new study published in the Journal of Environmental Entomology.

“We think our findings are very relevant for growers who are growing blueberries in greenhouses and high tunnels,” Campbell said.

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Male jumping spiders court whomever, whenever; females decide who lives, dies

Topic(s): Entomology and Nematology, Environment, Extension, IFAS, Lawn & Garden, Research

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Male jumping spiders will try to mate with any female, but that lack of discretion could cost them their lives, says a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researcher.

In a newly published study, UF/IFAS entomologist Lisa Taylor and her team documented the courting techniques of jumping spiders. They found that male spiders spend much time and energy – including singing and dancing — trying to mate with potential females, even when these females are the wrong species.

“We think that one reason these displays have evolved in male jumping spiders is to compensate for the fact that they can’t tell females of closely related species apart,” Taylor said. “Males run around courting everything that looks remotely like a female, and they place themselves at a very high risk of cannibalism from hungry females of the wrong species who have no interest in mating with them.”

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Time to mow more: It’s good for the environment and for curb appeal

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

 

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — With higher temperatures come higher lawns, so now that spring is in full swing, you may mow more often. When you do, you help preserve the environment and keep your yard aesthetically pleasing, a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences expert says.

Environmentally, proper lawn care can help prevent nutrients from flowing into nearby waterways, said Jason Kruse, a UF/IFAS associate professor of environmental horticulture. Mowing helps increase canopy density, increases soil stability and prevents soil erosion. These changes in the lawn will help limit fertilizer and other nutrients from flowing into waterways, Kruse said.

In addition to taking care of the environment, most people mow their lawns because they want them to look good. So how often should you mow? That depends on several factors, including the kind of grass on your lawn, time of season, amount of shade and desired use, Kruse said. If you have St. Augustinegrass, you have to mow at taller heights because it has course-textured leaf blades. If you have bermudagrass, you’ll want to mow closer to the soil because of its numerous narrow leaf blades and lower growth habit.

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