University of Florida

UF creates trees with enhanced resistance to greening

Topic(s): Uncategorized
Application of an environment-friendly pesticide alternative developed from guava trees onto citrus trees in order to fight against citrus greening. UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones.

UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones.

LAKE ALFRED, Fla. — After a decade of battling the highly destructive citrus greening bacterium, researchers with the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences have developed genetically modified citrus trees that show enhanced resistance to greening, and have the potential to resist canker and black spot, as well.  However, the commercial availability of those trees is still several years away.

Jude Grosser,  a professor of plant cell genetics at UF/IFAS’ Citrus Research and Education Center, and Manjul Dutt, a research assistant scientist at the CREC, used a gene isolated from the Arabidopsis plant, a member of the mustard family, to create the new trees.  Their experiment resulted in trees that exhibited enhanced resistance to greening, reduced disease severity and even several trees that remained disease-free after 36 months of planting in a field with a high number of diseased trees. The journal PLOS ONE recently published a paper on their study.

“Citrus crop improvement using conventional breeding methods is difficult and time consuming due to the long juvenile phase in citrus, which can vary from four to twelve years, “Grosser said. “Improvement of citrus through genetic engineering remains the fastest method for improvement of existing citrus cultivars and has been a key component in the University of Florida’s genetic improvement strategy.”

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UF to host Stop Hunger Now event on Nov. 19 to feed needy families

Topic(s): Uncategorized

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — According to recent studies, more than three million people in Florida fight hunger every day. The University of Florida College of Agricultural and Life Sciences has joined the battle to eliminate food insecurity in the state.

UF CALS has teamed up with Collegiate Farm Bureau and Gator Wesley to package meals for needy families at the event, Stop Hunger Now, on Nov. 19. This is the third year that the organizations have collaborated to package meals.

“We want to plant a ‘service’ seed in our students and teach them that giving back can be simple, fun, impactful and meaningful,” said Charlotte Emerson, UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences CALS director of student development and recruitment. Event participants are asked to bring three nonperishable items, which will be donated to the UF Field and Fork Food Pantry.

Stop Hunger Now is a national program founded in 1998, in Raleigh, North Carolina. The program has provided more than 180 million meals in 65 countries. This year, Stop Hunger Now participants will package 45 million meals, and ship more than $9 million in donated aid, mainly vitamins and medical supplies.



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


Source: Charlotte Emerson, 352-392-1963, cemer@ufl.edu

UF/IFAS experts to share knowledge at 38th annual Sunbelt Ag Expo

Topic(s): Uncategorized
2010 Sunbelt Agriculture Expo in Moultrie, Georgia.

Sunbelt Agriculture Expo in Moultrie, Georgia.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Learn how protein production can more efficiently feed the world and how to prepare healthier family meals from University of Florida experts at the 38th annual Sunbelt Ag Expo – the largest agricultural expo in the southeast.

The Sunbelt Ag Expo, Oct. 20 to 22 in Moultrie, Georgia, draws more than 100,000 people each year.

“The Sunbelt Expo gives people from all walks of life a chance to learn about everything Extension offers from our experts,” said Nick Place, dean of Extension for UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

The expo features the latest agricultural research, a live farm harvest and insights into various agricultural businesses, according to its website.

UF/IFAS has a permanent building, popular with visitors because of engaging displays and giveaways such as peanuts from the Florida Peanut Growers Association, Florida Orange Juice provided by Natalie’s Orchid Island Juice Company and many other “Gator Giveaways.”

UF/IFAS’s three branches, Extension, research and the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) will host interactive booths.

The expo is on 1,680 acres, 4 miles southeast of U.S. 319 (Veteran’s Parkway) on Georgia Highway 133 near Moultrie. Expo hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, and 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday. Admission price is $10 per person per day, or $20 for a three-day pass. Children 10 and under get in free.


For more information, visit www.sunbeltexpo.com.



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


UF researcher wins national L’Oreal Fellowship

Topic(s): Uncategorized

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida researcher Julie Meyer is definitely worth it, especially to L’Oreal USA. Meyer is one of five recipients of the L’Oréal USA 2015 For Women in Science Fellowship, which honors female scientists at critical stages of their career with $60,000 fellowships to advance their postdoctoral research.

Meyer is a postdoctoral scientist in marine microbiology in the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. Her research focuses on the role of microbial interactions in the health and stability of coral reefs, and is performed in collaboration with the Smithsonian Marine Station.

Meyer is researching how shifts in coral microbiota are associated with Black Band Disease, a disease that kills healthy tissue in many different species of reef-building corals. The L’Oréal USA For Women in Science Fellowship will support the further development of Meyer’s research, including the sequencing of whole genomes.

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UF/IFAS West Florida REC to host Fall Harvest Dinner on Nov. 13

Topic(s): Uncategorized

WHO:   UF/IFAS West Florida Research and Education Center will host the annual Fall Harvest Dinner on Nov. 13. Tickets are $50 per person and are tax deductible. Proceeds from the event will be used to convert an existing equipment building at the UF/IFAS West Florida REC in Jay into a conference facility for faculty, staff and students.

WHAT: The Fall Harvest Dinner is held each year to raise funds for the UF/IFAS West Florida REC. The mission of the center is to create and extend knowledge in agriculture and natural resources through teaching, research and Extension to improve the quality of life.

WHERE: The Fall Harvest Dinner will be held at the UF/IFAS West Florida REC, 4253 Experiment Road, Hwy 182, Jay, Fla., 32565.

WHEN: The dinner is from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., Friday, Nov. 13.

INFO: Tickets include dinner and show by comedian Lee McBride. Lee is a family friendly comedian and story teller. For more information or to buy tickets, call Robin Vickers at 850-983-7134.


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

Source: Robin Vickers, 850-983-7134, rvickers@ufl.edu

UF/IFAS to host renowned scientist for York-Malone Lecture on Nov. 2

Topic(s): Uncategorized

Naomi Oreske

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Are vaccines safe? Is climate change real? As the keynote speaker for the 2015 York-Malone Distinguished Lecture, Naomi Oreskes, a renowned researcher who investigated decades of documents proving misrepresentation of truth to the American public, will explain why we should trust science in a world that is skeptical.

The lecture, “Should We Trust Science: Perspectives from the History and Philosophy of Science,” will be held at 3 p.m., Nov. 2 at the University of Florida Auditorium, 333 Newell Drive. The event is free and open to the public. A book signing with the author will take place at 2 p.m. in the University Auditorium lobby.

“Dr. Oreskes is a distinguished scholar and a courageous defender of science,” said UF President Kent Fuchs. “We are pleased to host her on our campus.”

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UF/IFAS Extension program in best management practices wins state, national awards

Topic(s): Uncategorized

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The UF/IFAS Extension and FDEP’s Florida-Friendly LandscapingTM Green Industries Best Management Practices (GI-BMP) program recently won two state awards and one national award for Extension program content and implementation.

The Florida Association of County Agriculture Agents (FACAA) honored the UF/IFAS GI-BMP program with two awards at the recent Extension Professional Associations of Florida’s state meeting in Naples. FACAA’s Communications award spotlighted the program’s online learning module and website interface. The Search for Excellence in Landscape Horticulture award recognized the development and implementation of an outstanding Extension education program.

“The success we have achieved for the GI-BMP program can only be attributed to teamwork”, said Esen Momol, state director for the Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ program, which oversees the GI-BMP program. “All the Extension agents, FDEP coordinators, and our industry partners statewide who have put in countless hours for curriculum development and instructing hundreds of training classes can feel a great deal of satisfaction in the recognition provided by these awards. Florida is truly better off for their efforts.”

In addition to the two state awards, Don Rainey, the state coordinator for the GI-BMP program, was recently awarded the award for Excellence in Landscape Horticulture at the national meeting of the National Association of County Agriculture Agents in South Dakota. As the national winner, Rainey was the keynote speaker at the Search for Excellence Awards Luncheon.

“It was quite a thrill for our Extension program to receive such national recognition,” Rainey said. “But, most importantly, it shows how our UF/IFAS programs are leading the way nationally in protecting our natural resources.”

As part of the UF/IFAS Extension and FDEP’s Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ program, the GI-BMP program trains landscaping professionals in proper fertilization and irrigation practices that protect Florida’s water resources. To date, the program has trained more than 41,000 individuals using in-person and online classes given in English, Spanish, and Haitian Creole.


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

Source: Esen Momol, 352-273-4520, eam@ufl.edu


UF/IFAS receives $49 million USAID award to aid in global food security

Topic(s): Uncategorized

Cattle at the North Florida Research and Education Center in Marianna, Flrorida.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) awarded the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences a $49 million, five-year cooperative agreement to establish the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Livestock Systems. The grant supports USAID’s agricultural research and capacity building work under Feed the Future, the U.S. Government’s global hunger and food security initiative.

“Through our Feed the Future Innovation Labs, the U.S. Government is empowering the world’s finest universities to help improve nutrition and end widespread hunger around the world,” said Acting USAID Administrator Alfonse E. Lenhardt. “By creating and scaling cutting-edge solutions to our most pressing agricultural challenges, we can help the world’s most vulnerable people move from dependency to self-sufficiency — and out of the tragic cycle of extreme poverty.”

“With this latest award to UF/IFAS, USAID is now investing over $75 million in the University of Florida’s ability to provide leadership to the global food systems research, teaching and extension efforts,” said Jack Payne, senior vice president of agriculture and natural resources.

This newest Feed the Future Innovation Lab will improve livestock productivity and the incomes and nutrition of livestock holders through appropriate improved technologies, capacity building, and enabling policies, said Adegbola Adesogan, director of UF’s Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Livestock Systems and professor of animal sciences. “The program will help increase the resilience of vulnerable populations, reduce the environmental impact of livestock systems, and advance understanding of the rapidly evolving livestock systems and their roles in food safety and security, human nutrition, and human and animal health,” he said.

The Livestock Systems Innovation Lab will focus on six countries in West and East Africa and South Asia: Mali, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Cambodia and Nepal.

“This grant provides a tremendous opportunity to contribute towards meeting the increasing global demand for livestock products specifically and food generally, “Adesogan said. “Our research and capacity building efforts will equip students, farmers and scientists in the focal countries with the knowledge and innovative technologies to significantly increase livestock productivity and improve the nutritional status of vulnerable families.”

The award will strengthen global engagement at the University of Florida and allow the institution to better assist developing nations in addressing poverty and hunger, said Walter Bowen, director of UF/IFAS Global. “By joining the ranks of the science-based Feed the Future Innovation Labs, the University of Florida continues a strong tradition of contributing to the research, education and extension needs of small holder farmers around the world,” he said.

Feed the Future is working to scale up proven technologies and activities, expand nutrition interventions and programs, and conduct research to create the next generation of innovations that can change the lives of food producers and their families. In 2014, Feed the Future reached nearly 7 million farmers and other food producers with new technologies and management practices, while reaching more than 12 million children with high-impact nutrition interventions that improve health and development.

About Feed the Future: Feed the Future is the U.S. Government’s global hunger and food security initiative. With a focus on smallholder farmers, particularly women, Feed the Future supports partner countries in developing their agriculture sectors to spur economic growth and trade that increase incomes and reduce hunger, poverty and undernutrition. For more information, visit www.feedthefuture.gov.



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


Sources: USAID Press Office, 202-712-4320, USAIDPressOfficers@usaid.gov


Adegbola Adesogan, 352-392-7527, adesogan@ufl.edu

UF/IFAS master gardener helps HOA, residents resolve disputes

Topic(s): Uncategorized

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Experts with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences are helping Floridians and homeowner associations (HOAs) across the state resolve landscape disputes.

For example, 40 Haile Plantation Village homeowners thought they had done a good thing when they replaced their chinch-infested St. Augustine grass with Zoysia. Their lawns were rich and green again, flourishing in the hot Florida sun.

But Zoysia was not on the homeowners association’s list of approved grasses. So began a battle to keep the healthier grass while respecting the association’s rules. In steppeds Florida Master Gardener statewide coordinator Wendy Wilber, with UF/IFAS.

Wilber previously headed the Alachua County Florida-Friendly Landscaping ™ program, a UF/IFAS program that teaches people how to take care of their lawns. The program, around since the late 1990s, helps people create sustainable landscapes that don’t require a lot of water or upkeep, Wilber said. “We have Florida-Friendly agents all over the state, who work with homeowners, HOAs, landscape architects, builders and developers,” she said.

Haile Plantation, with approximately 5,000 residents, battled a devastating chinch bug infestation. “The St. Augustine grass was brown and overrun with chinch bugs; it looked awful,” Wilber explained. “Homeowners were replacing the lawn, sod and all, every two years, or having to use excessive amounts of pesticide.”

One resident, Bruce Welt, an Alachua County homeowner, reached out to Wilber and asked her to identify his grass, which was flourishing. Wilber determined that the grass was Zoysia and that it would be better than the St. Augustine.

“Dr. Welt’s grass was perfect and his neighbor’s looked terrible,” Wilber said. “He asked me to write a letter to the HOA in support of Zoysia because it is the right plant in the right place.”

Right plant, right place is one of the key principles of Florida-Friendly Landscaping ™. This principle focuses on matching proper plants with site characteristics so that plants flourish and less problems arise.

Wilber’s letter convinced the HOA landscape review board to include Zoysia on the list of approved grasses. “The homeowners saved money by not having to replace their healthy grass with failing turf,” she said.

Helping Welt went a long way toward helping all residents of Haile Plantation, said attorney Robert Bunn, who represented homeowners in litigation against the HOA. “Without [Wilber’] intervention, the homeowners would have to contend with a failing, unsustainable grass,” Bunn said. “The implication of this resolution is that homeowners in Florida can turn to UF/IFAS researchers and Extension agents to mediate these disputes. IFAS should be the final authority on plants and landscaping, which will help HOAs and residents arrive at peaceful solutions.”


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


Source: Wendy Wilber, 352-273-4521, wilbewl@ufl.edu

Robert Bunn, 352-213-3920, robert@strategiclaw.com


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