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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A common toxin used to kill yellow fever mosquito larvae – the most prevalent transmitter of dengue, chikungunya and zika viruses – is highly effective. While there are some fitness advantages to surviving adults, this is still an effective way to control the damaging health impacts of these mosquito-borne diseases, a new University of Florida study shows.
Scientists and mosquito control officials want to kill mosquitoes during the larval, or juvenile stage, before they grow into adulthood and transmit these dangerous diseases. Dengue and chikungunya viruses are regarded as two of the most important mosquito-borne viral illnesses, said Barry Alto, a UF/IFAS assistant professor in entomology at the UF/IFAS Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory in Vero Beach, Florida.
The few mosquitos that do survive after exposure to the toxin gain a fitness advantage in adulthood, but their numbers are so small that their trait improvements, including enhanced size and ability to reproduce, are unlikely to outweigh the benefit of the rest of the mosquitoes that die from the pesticide Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (Bti), Alto said.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Although the Zika virus is spreading, even into Florida, it does not appear to have been transmitted from mosquito to person or person to person in Florida. But that could happen any time, University of Florida scientists say. Thus, they urge everyone to stay alert.
“We should remain vigilant and informed,” said Jorge Rey, entomology professor and interim director of the Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory (FMEL) in Vero Beach, Florida, part of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
Public concerns about Zika triggered UF/IFAS scientists to write a new Extension document to explain the virus. The paper can be found at http://bit.ly/1QTLDqO. FMEL scientists also have crafted a new question-and-answer document for their website, http://bit.ly/1O0eLbi.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences received $6.7 million in funding as part of a $20.1 million grant for research on citrus greening, a disease devastating Florida’s citrus industry.
The United States Department of Agriculture awarded the grants to universities for research and Extension projects to help citrus producers fight citrus greening, also known as huanglongbing or HLB. This funding is available through the Specialty Crop Research Initiative’s Citrus Disease Research and Extension Program, which was authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill and is administered by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
“Citrus greening has affected more than 75 percent of Florida citrus crops and threatens production all across the United States,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “The research and extension projects funded today bring us one step closer to providing growers real tools to fight this disease, from early detection to creating long-term solutions for the industry, producers and workers.” (more …)
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Roses are usually the flower of choice for Valentine’s Day, and researchers with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences want to keep it that way. Scientists are racing to develop a plan to prevent or treat rose rosette disease, which is decimating the rose industry in other states.
“Rose rosette is a devastating disease and one of the worst things to come along,” said Gary Knox, professor of environmental horticulture and Extension specialist in nursery crops. “So, we joined a multistate comprehensive project to find a management plan.”
The challenge is in detecting the virus before symptoms arrive, Knox said. “A nursery might not know it has the disease and sell rose plants to unsuspecting customers. Months later, the disease shows up,” he said. “The major issue is being able to detect the virus before it shows up.”
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Roses are red; violets are blue, and University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers are developing better breeds of Valentine’s Day plants just for you.
Here are just a couple of examples.
Zhanao Deng, a professor of environmental horticulture at the UF/IFAS Gulf Coast Research and Education Center in Balm, Florida, is breeding gerbera daisy cultivars that are resistant to powdery mildew, the most destructive fungal disease for this type of flower. Deng said his daisies are also becoming more attractive.
“These daisy cultivars can be used for cut flowers or potted plants,” he said.
DELEON SPRINGS, Fla. – Richard Williams unfurls his long, sturdy frame from a tractor and begins a stroll through 20 acres of olive groves at his farm in Volusia County, Florida. His in-laws, the Ford/Veech family, has spent six generations farming in Florida, and has a more than 50-year-old citrus grove.
Williams checks the leaf structure to see which of the 11,160 olive trees are giving fruit. He has a lot riding on the Florida Olive Systems, Inc., project that is being funded by the Ford/Veech family.
“Planting olives is not for the faint of heart by any stretch of the imagination. This is so new that we are learning every day,” said Williams, whose wife Lisa helps run Florida Olive Systems, Inc. “But it’s a new opportunity to reinvent ourselves after catastrophic losses to citrus greening.”
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — What economists call the “green industry” – nursery and greenhouse production, landscape services and horticultural product distribution − is bringing plenty of green to a lot of people across the country. A new study by the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences shows that the industry generated $196 billion in revenues annually, and more than two million jobs in the United States.
“Our study demonstrated that this industry is a very large employer,” said Alan Hodges, Extension scientist with the UF/IFAS food and resource economics department and lead author of the study. “It exists in virtually every community in the U.S. The rise of large retail chain stores with garden departments has made plants and other horticultural products more readily available to consumers than ever before.”
Green industry products include sod, flowers, bedding plants, tropical foliage, trees and shrubs, among other types of plants. The industry also includes many businesses that provide services such as landscape design, installation and maintenance, plus firms — such as lawn and garden stores — for wholesale and retail distribution of horticultural products, Hodges said.
BELLE GLADE, Fla. — University of Florida scientists at the Everglades Research and Education Center have found an important way to control the destructive rice water weevil, one of the major pests in rice production.
UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researcher Ron Cherry and his team discovered that shallow flooding of rice fields can help reduce rice water weevil populations during Florida’s growing season, between April and September. Previous studies of the effect of flood depth on the pest have been inconsistent. (more …)
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Consumers prefer plants with the “Fresh from Florida” label, according to a new survey by a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences economist.
In the survey, summarized in a UF/IFAS Extension document, 83 percent of respondents recalled noticing the “Fresh from Florida” logos on plants in retail garden centers. To be designated as “Fresh from Florida,” 51 per cent of the product must originate in the Sunshine State, according to Florida Department of Agricultural and Consumer Services guidelines.
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has partnered with the Florida Nursery, Growers and Landscape Association to include horticulture plants in the state’s “Fresh from Florida” campaign.
Hayk Khachatryan, an assistant professor of food and resource economics at the UF/IFAS Mid-Florida Research and Education Center in Apopka, Florida, co-authored the document with his post-doctoral research associate, Alicia Rihn. As part of a larger study, they wrote the document after surveying 301 Florida horticultural plant consumers in June and July 2014 in Orlando and Gainesville.
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers believe they’re on the verge of helping conserve the popular but endangered Ghost Orchid, a plant that’s often poached.
“We’ve successfully developed procedures to culture plants from seeds in the lab and then successfully acclimatize them into our greenhouse,” said Michael Kane, professor of environmental horticulture at UF/IFAS. “We’ve also obtained a high survival and vigorous re-growth rate when they’re planted back into the wild.”
This rare orchid is unique for several reasons. First, it resembles a ghost when its white flower moves at night; hence, it is known as the Ghost Orchid. It is also leafless, and its roots attach to the bark of the host tree.
About 2,000 ghost orchids remain in Florida, all the more reason to step up efforts to stabilize the current populations, Kane said. The Ghost Orchid also grows in the Bahamas and Cuba. However, researchers are learning that these populations are thriving in very different environmental conditions than those in South Florida.