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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.

(more …)

UF/IFAS researcher finds inexpensive, easy way to filter arsenic from water

Topic(s): Agriculture, Biocontrols, Environment, IFAS, Pollution, Research
UF/IFAS Researcher Bin Gao has developed an inexpensive and easy way to filter arsenic from water.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A University of Florida professor has developed a quick, cheap and easy way to filter from water one of the world’s most common pollutants: arsenic.

Bin Gao’s team used iron-enhanced carbon cooked from hickory chips, called biochar, to remove the toxin. He is an associate professor with the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences’ in agricultural and biological engineering. (more …)

UF/IFAS panel approves three new tomato breeding lines, three other cultivars

Topic(s): Cultivars, IFAS, Research

Caladium cultivar UF 432 Caladium cultivar UF 4015 Oat cultivar

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. – University of Florida scientists hope three new breeding lines approved for release will eventually improve the virus resistance and quality of future tomato varieties.

The UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Cultivar Release Committee, in partnership with the Florida Foundation Seed Producers Inc., approved Fla. 8638B, Fla. 8624 and Fla. 8923 on Oct. 22.

Fla. 8923 shows promise for resistance to tomato yellow leaf curl virus while 8624 and 8638B provide resistance to yellow leaf curl virus and tomato mottle virus, according to Professor Jay Scott and Assistant Professor Sam Hutton, tomato breeders at the UF/IFAS Gulf Coast Research and Education Center in Balm.

Committee members agreed to release the breeding lines hoping seed companies can use them to develop improved cultivars for Florida and globally. The resistance genes these improved lines provide originated from a wild tomato species that Scott transferred into tomatoes nearly 25 years ago.

(more …)

UF, N.C. A&T forge ahead with organic strawberry research

Topic(s): Announcements, Crops, Cultivars, Research

Strawberries.  UF/IFAS Photo by Marisol Amador.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. – With an additional $200,000 grant from the Walmart Foundation, scientists from the University of Florida and North Carolina A&T University are expanding grower engagement in organic strawberry research.

While the focus of the 2013-2014 work was broad and exploratory, a key component of this year’s research will be to test the best aspects of the organic strawberry production system under farm conditions and with grower management.

Growers at three farms in North Central Florida are assessing two cover crops and three commercial strawberry cultivars that performed well in last year’s Phase I trials. Grower evaluations of the Phase I research resulted in suggestions that researchers assess cover crop combinations as well as a cover crop that could produce a marketable product.

In Phase II, scientists will evaluate the on-station and on-farm research for seasonal variability in market yield, nutrient-use efficiency, consumer acceptance and response to postharvest handling and storage.

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UF-led consortium wins prestigious national award

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Crops, Environment, Honors and Appointments, IFAS, New Technology, Research
Clyde Fraisse (blue shirt)  led a consortium of researchers to win a prestigious U.S. award.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A consortium of scientists and researchers, led by the University of Florida, has received the prestigious National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Partnership Award for Multistate Efforts.

The Southeast Climate Extension project is comprised of 19 researchers from half a dozen universities. They engage agricultural producers and help them implement management strategies to protect crops from weather extremes. In addition, they conduct research aimed at reducing climate and weather risks in agriculture and natural resources in Florida, and cooperate with similar programs through the Southeast Climate Consortium. (more …)

UF/IFAS researcher continues quest for peanut that won’t cause allergic reaction

Topic(s): Families and Consumers, Food Safety, IFAS, New Technology, Research

Wade Yang, an assistant professor in UF?s food science and human nutrition department, left, and graduate student Sandra Shriver, use pulsed ultraviolet light to reduce allergens in peanuts in Yang's laboratory in Gainesville, Fla., on April 15, 2011. The technique has been shown to significantly reduce the allergenic potential of peanuts by up to 90 percent. IFAS photo by Tyler L. Jones

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A University of Florida scientist has moved one step closer to his goal of eliminating 99.9 percent of peanut allergens by removing 80 percent of them in whole peanuts.

Scientists must eliminate peanut allergens below a certain threshold for patients to be safe, said Wade Yang, an assistant professor in food science and human nutrition and member of UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

If Yang can cut the allergens from 150 milligrams of protein per peanut to below 1.5 milligrams, 95 percent of those with peanut allergies would be safe. It’s challenging to eliminate all peanut allergens, he said, because doing so may risk destroying peanuts’ texture, color, flavor and nutrition. But he said he’s using novel methods like pulsed light to reach an allergen level that will protect most people.

Yang, whose study is published online in this month’s issue of the journal Food and Bioprocess Technology, cautioned that he has done peanut allergen experiments only in a laboratory setting so far. He hopes to eventually conduct clinical trials on animals and humans.

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UF/IFAS team part of NSF effort to study least understood, oldest fungi

Topic(s): Research
 Spinellus fusiger shown growing on the mushroom Mycena capillaripes. Photograph by Darvin DeShazer.

 

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – A University of Florida team is part of a group of scientists from 11 institutions that will tackle some very ancient history as part of a National Science Foundation-funded project to understand the evolution of zygomycetes, fungi thought to be among the first terrestrial organisms.

The Zygomycete Geneaology of Life, ZyGoLife for short, is a $2.5 million collaborative research project.

(more …)

UF/IFAS scientists count record number of threatened crocodile hatchlings

Topic(s): Conservation, Environment, Research, Uncategorized

 

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A record number of American crocodile hatchlings have been counted in the Everglades National Park this summer — a positive development for the threatened species, University of Florida scientists say.

The American crocodile was listed as a federally endangered species in 1975, and while reclassified as threatened in 2007, the species still faces problems from habitat loss and environmental changes.

Frank Mazzotti, a UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences professor, has monitored the South Florida crocodile population since 1978.

This summer, he and his team of researchers that included Michiko Squires, Seth Farris, Rafael Crespo and research coordinator Jeff Beauchamp, caught, marked and released 962 hatchlings within the confines of the national park, a big jump from last summer’s 554.

The total American crocodile hatchlings in Florida this year came to 1,447, over last year’s 1,006, including those found in the park, Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Key Largo and Florida Power and Light Company Turkey Point power plant site.

Mazzotti cautioned that the numbers aren’t proof that ecosystem restoration efforts are working, but he believes the correlation suggests they are.

The coastline of Everglades National Park, prime habitat for the American crocodile, was largely untouched by humans until the early 20th century. But a network of canals was dug to drain water from the marshes to make the area suitable for agriculture and residential development, which triggered environmental changes, such as increased inland salinity.

And crocodiles, extremely sensitive to environmental changes such as salinity and water levels, suffered. High salinities stress hatchling crocodiles directly, and high salinity and high water levels limit availability of prey.

Restoration plans to plug coastal canals in the national park aim to prevent salt water intrusion and fresh water losses to tide.

“What we hope is the lesson is that ecosystem restoration efforts can work. If the signal is correct here, we can monitor that improvement by looking at ecological responses – and crocodiles make good indicators,” Mazzotti said.

Crocodiles, as a species, are some 200 million years old. They can live for decades, can survive long periods without food and can eat almost anything. They have complex social relationships and are known to be quick learners.

Contacts

Writer: Mickie Anderson, 352-273-3566, mickiea@ufl.edu

Source: Frank Mazzotti, 954-577-6338, fjma@ufl.edu

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