THE RESEARCH ENGINE OF IFAS is alive and well and
partnering with Extension more and more to ensure that the
mission of the Experiment Station captured in our tag line,
Discovery, Innovation and Application is applied to the needs of
the citizens of Florida.
In seeking solutions, we often find ourselves without answers;
hence the need to explore and develop new knowledge sources.
The exploration and development of new data is a critical step in
our Discovery of new knowledge.
In seeking solutions, we also often study known information to
see if we can derive a new way to apply the data. Like a forester
using a wedge prism, we sometimes need to look at our data sets
using innovative techniques to derive new understandings from
our world of knowledge. This Innovation effort is a critical step
to finding solutions.
Much of our research can best be described as translational sci-
ence, efforts that drive the data towards useful applications.
Our translational efforts keep communications open between
our research explorers and our research application. Our com-
mitment to Applications keeps us connected to the citizenry
and committed to establishing solutions that work, solutions
that make a difference and solutions that help agriculture and
our environment. Our partnership with Extension helps us hear
the needs, and then deliver the solutions.
In this issue of our annual report, we are excited to reflect on
the extraordinary success of our scientists as we note their
world-class publications featured in Science Magazine, Nature
Magazine and the Proceedings of the National Academies of
Science. These publications are among the most influential in
our sciences and reflect a respect and awareness of our faculty's
We will be focusing on our research in response to the Gulf oil
spill with discussion of issues related to seafood, the coastal
environment and the toll on Gulf Coast residents. In this issue
we will also step back and look at climate, not from the perspec-
tive of who caused what, but rather that climate does change -
sometimes very severely- and we must respond to that change.
In our continued effort to look at bioenergy, we will not only
discuss conversion technology but also feed stock issues.
The challenges of agricultural production in our semi-tropical
environment will be the subject of discussions about new
threats, such as citrus black spot, laurel wilt and citrus tristeza
virus. We will also focus on the critical work being accomplished
with T-STAR funding where we place competitive and targeted
emergency funding against many invasive plants, microbes,
insects, and plant and animal disease issues.
In a year of increasingly difficult competition for funds to sup-
port research, our faculty continue to be successful in creating a
case for investment in their research programs. They are apply-
ing best practices to their grantsmanship and succeeding in a
world of diminished resources. In a word, our faculty rock when
it comes to making a case for their science as a path to solutions!
Mark R. McLellan
Dean for Research, IFAS
Director, Florida Agricultural
F UNIVERSITY of
Note from the Dean for Research
IFAS PUBLISHES IN WORLD-CLASS RESEARCH PUBLICATIONS
5 Researchers discover new role for folate
6 Genetic rescue boosts odds for endangered Florida panther
7 Ubiquitin pathway research shows similarity between lineages of life
8 Team studies tree genome as a means to boost wood production
IFAS RESPONDS TO THE GULF OIL SPILL
11 Pilot research study examines human cost of Gulf oil spill
12 Documenting oyster reef declines in the Big Bend
13 IFAS research sheds light on Gulf Coast seagrass beds
ADAPTING TO CLIMATE CHANGE: IFAS ANSWERS THE CALL
16 Florida Climate Institute aims to translate research in timely fashion
17 Research shows connection between El Niho and nutrient runoff
18 Strawberry growers get help with critical decisions
19 Study reveals marmot population increase linked to climate change
ADVANCING THE DEVELOPMENT OF BIOENERGY
22 Genetic research improves sweet sorghum biofuel possibilities
23 Unique traits in some algae make them a possible biofuel
24 Tropical plant may become biofuel crop
25 Research examines woody biomass energy for Florida
26 New acid for cellulosic ethanol production has multiple benefits
ATTACKING FLORIDA'S EMERGING PATHOGENS
29 Responding to the threat of citrus black spot
30 IFAS team works to save state's avocado industry from laurel wilt
31 Enemy may be important ally in fight against citrus greening
T-STAR'S RESPONSE TO EMERGING PATHOGENS
34 Researchers working to reduce orange rust losses in sugarcane
35 Protecting Florida bromeliads from the Mexican Bromeliad Weevil
36 Apopka team works to thwart invasive chilli thrips in peppers
37 Protecting Florida crops from the Red Palm Mite
38 UF researchers fight crop-destroying late blight
FLORIDA AGRICULTURAL EXPERIMENT STATION
40 University of Florida Research Foundation Professors (UFRF)
43 Richard L. Jones New Faculty Research Awardees
44 John Beuttenmuller/IFAS Patents and Licenses
46 New IFAS Research Faculty
48 Director's Financial Report
49 Research Awards FY 2009-2010
50 UF/IFAS Statewide Research and Education Network
MARK R. McLELLAN
Dean for Research and Director,
Florida Agricultural Experiment Station
DOUGLAS L. ARCHER
Associate Dean for Research
MARY L. DURYEA
Associate Dean for Research
Woody biomass taken at the Wood Resource Recovery
unit in Ocala, FL
Wading bird in Lake Okeechobee
A yearling yellow-bellied marmot PHOTO BYARPAT OZGUL
Citrus black spot on oranges
Florida panther kitten PHOTO COURTESY OF THE FLORIDA FISH
ANDWILDLIFE CONSERVATION COMMISSION
Shuttle launch used forjatropha experiments
ANNUAL RESEARCH REPORT is published by the University of Florida's
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and is produced by IFAS
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To change an address, request extra copies of ANNUAL RESEARCH
REPORT, or to be added to the mailing list, e-mail email@example.com
or write to Research Administration, P.O. Box 110200, University of
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ANNUAL RESEARCH REPORT is available in alternative formats. Visit our
Copyright 2011 by the University of Florida/IFAS. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED I ANNUAL RESEARCH REPORT
IFAS PUBLISHES IN
, - RlllE
Reprinted by permission from Macmillan Publishers Ltd. Nature,
Reprinted with permission from PNAS.
Reprinted with permission from AAAS.
Researchers discover new role for folate
BY CALEB SHEAFFER
that folate does in the body, and yet one more reason we require
folate' said Andrew Hanson, C.V. Griffin Sr. Eminent Scholar
in the horticultural sciences department. "It is another justifica-
tion for taking your vitamins, if you want to put it that way."
S" Hanson directed the study with IFAS colleagues Valerie de
A ^ Crecy-Lagard, Jesse Gregory, and Jeffrey Waller. Their research
examined folate's interaction with compounds called iron-sulfur
!. clusters through a protein family called COG0354, which the
Left to .'ii i 11iii Rocca, senior chemist, Advanced ii i Resonance
Imaging and Spectroscopy (AMRIS); Art Edison, associate professor of
Biochemistry & Molecular i, .... i Andrew Hanson, Griffin Eminent Scholar,
Department of Horticultural Sciences and Jeff Waller, post-doctoral associ-
ate, Department of Horticultural Sciences, with the NMR instrument used to
acquire the critical -.I i .1 1 I h i data.
IT IS no secret that the vitamin folate plays a vital part in good
Pregnant women take folate supplements to aid in their babies'
development, and it is recommended that all women take
folate supplements even before conception to lessen the risk of
spina bifida and other birth defects. In the U.S., grain foods are
enriched with folic acid, a synthetic version of folate, to help
individuals get the recommended amount in their diets.
Scientists have known for years that folate aids in various
aspects of cell growth, especially the correct replication and sta-
bility of DNA.
But this summer an article published in Proceedings of the
National Academy of Sciences by researchers at UF's Institute
of Food and Agricultural Sciences unveiled a new part folate
plays in preserving good health. The article, "A Role for
Tetrahydrafolates in the Metabolism of Iron-Sulfur Clusters in
all Domains of Life'," shows that through folate's relationship
with a newly discovered protein, it moderates the oxidative
stress levels in organisms.
"We thought everything was known about why humans need
folic acid as a vitamin. But this is a folate-dependent protein
that wasn't known about so we've found another vital thing
team discovered occurs in
all forms of life. Iron-sulfur
clusters appear in nearly every
organism, and are part of how
cells produce energy and carry
out important reactions.
Iron-sulfur clusters are often
chemically unstable, and
during metabolic processes,
produce free radicals and mol-
"We thought everything
was known about why
humans need folic acid
as a vitamin.:'
ecules that damage components of cells. This damage, called
oxidative stress, is a major factor in aging and many diseases,
including Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease and heart
disease. The team found that folate is linked to the production
or repair of these iron-sulfur clusters, because of folate's interac-
tion with the COG0354 protein family.
Drs. Val6rie de Crcy-Lagard (left), associate professor, Department of
S,..I 1. .. 1... i and Cell Science and Jesse Gregory, professor, Department of
Food Science and Human Nutrition.
A crucial piece of the research occurred at UF's McKnight Brain
Institute and the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory,
involving collaboration with Art Edison, the NHMFL's director
of chemistry and biology and associate professor in UF's bio-
chemistry and molecular biology department, and Jim Rocca,
senior chemist and nuclear magnetic resonance applications
specialist. Using nuclear magnetic resonance analysis, the team
observed folate directly interacting with the COG0354 protein.
Hanson's team is continuing to research the role of folate and
the COG0354 protein in oxidative stress repair. The findings
may have future implications for understanding oxidative stress,
and may lead to new medicines.
He emphasized that this research highlights IFAS' strength
in encouraging faculty collaboration. This study combined
knowledge from three departments microbiology and cell
science, food science and human nutrition, and horticultural
"There is great intellectual strength in the different parts of
IFAS," Hanson said.
The project was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and National
Genetic rescue boosts odds for endangered
BY AMANDA AUBUCHON
numbers is a direct result of that genetic rescue, known as
The Florida panther population has been isolated for well over
100 years because of human encroachment and land develop-
ment, said Madan Oli, a UF population ecologist and professor
of wildlife ecology and conservation. Inbreeding was causing
morphological defects, such as kinked tails, heart conditions and
L reproductive dysfunction. If nothing was done, all indications
Dr. Madan Oli (left), professor, Department of' 1i. hi Ecology and
Conservation, and graduate student Jeff Hostetler led the population
ecological study of the Florida panther as partof a long-term, i,,ii ,, /
INBREEDING WAS leading the Florida panther to the brink of
extinction when eight female Texas pumas were introduced in
1995 as a way to stabilize the population. Since then, University
of Florida researchers have been studying the population ecol-
ogy of Florida panthers to determine if the increase in panther
were that the population would go
extinct in a fairly short period of
"Either you let this population
go extinct or do something about
that. And because the Texas puma
is the closest living relative of this
particular population, the proposal
was to bring in some females and
let them breed with the Florida
panther males'," Oli said.
"Our conclusion is that
worked, and the
way it worked is by
improving the survival
of panthers." MADAN OLI
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has
been studying the Florida panther population since the early
1980s, capturing and radio-tagging individual Florida panthers
and collecting blood and tissue samples to be sent for genetic
- P I.
A radio-collared male Florida panther in the Fakahatchee Strand Preserve
State Park. PHOTO CREDIT: GLENN STACELL/FWC.
analysis to the National Cancer Institute, a study collaborator.
The use of genetic markers known as microsatellites helped
researchers determine which panthers were native Florida pan-
thers (known as canonical panthers), which were from the first
group of kittens (known as Fis) born of canonical panthers and
the Texas puma females, and which were other admixed individ-
uals, meaning their parentage included any other mix of canoni-
cal panther and Texas puma genes. The original eight Texas
pumas were eventually removed from the population to prevent
their genes from swamping the Florida panther genes. Most
Texas pumas produced at least one litter of kittens with canoni-
cal panthers before their removal, and some produced more.
"We were able to estimate and model survival and reproductive
rate for panthers of different ancestry categories, and we could
i.tr i.i ai I ,,ir ,l' l I..,I.'
IIL ll I lI .l t-Ill. I ( I lI ll!- l' rl T lrt-I .. .. F I. l l. I Ir. !r- a I 'ir i I r-.l
'T I l. l. I[ -.l I. a. i 'I , I a I I litl. ' .i l '11" ., i III I al
panthers. Interestingly, introgression did not have any positive
impact on reproduction, meaning that admixed females did not
reproduce better than the canonical panther," Oli said.
The study was funded by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
via Florida panther license plate sales, Everglades National Park,the BCNP,
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of
Health, and University of Florida. It was supported in part by the Intramural
Research Program of NIH, National Cancer Institute, Center for Cancer Research
and the Florida Panther Research and Management Trust Fund.
Ubiquitin pathway research shows similarity
between lineages of life
NEW RESEARCH at the University of Florida is helping to
explain the complexities of the ubiquitin pathway, a process crit-
ical in cell function and important in the field of drug design.
Ubiquitin is a protein, found in all eukaryotes (cells with nuclei
and other organelles), that regulates cell function, including the
recycling of other proteins. Ubiquitin "tags" unneeded proteins
and sends them on a pathway to the proteasome, a cell organelle
that degrades (breaks down) and recycles proteins. Since the
BY ROBERT WELLS
ubiquitin pathway has an intimate link with cell growth and cell
functioning, understanding it may allow researchers to design
drugs that not only control cell growth but also target specific
functions, such as regulating inflammation.
"Ubiquitin is so critically involved in cell cycle control that we
want to know even at the most fundamental level how it func-
tions'," says Julie Maupin-Furlow, a professor in the University of
Florida's microbiology and cell science department.
structure to ubiquitin, conjugate with other proteins, and appear
to regulate cell function, including protein degradation.
Dr. Julie Maupin-Furlow, professor, Department of MiN, ,- .i .. .. i and Cell
Science, researching the distribution and function of proteasomes and
ubiquitin-like protein ( ..,i,.i i 1.. ,' system .
Maupin-Furlow has discovered two ubiquitin-like proteins in
archaea that conjugate (form covalent bonds) to target proteins.
The archaeal ubiquitin-like proteins appear to be the evolution-
ary precursor to the ubiquitin pathway of eukaryotic cells.
Archaea and eukarya are two of the three lineages of life on
earth. Since archaea have deep evolutionary roots with eukary-
otes, studying ubiquitin-like proteins in archaea might be the
key to understanding the ubiquitin pathway.
Maupin-Furlow named the ubiquitin-like molecules small
archaeal modifier proteins, or SAMP1 and SAMP2. The journal
Nature published her research in January 2010.
Maupin-Furlow discovered the SAMPs in the archaeon species
Haloferax volcanii. Archaea do not contain ubiquitin protein
sequences like eukaryotes do. However, SAMPs have a similar
Maupin-Furlow found a variety of
proteins were conjugated to the
SAMPs, including some possibly
related to sulfur metabolism as
well as ones that function in stress
response and gene expression.
To demonstrate a true ubiquitin-
like nature of the SAMPs, Maupin-
Furlow determined sites where
isopeptide bonds formed between
SAMP2 and its protein targets.
With the help of a mass spectrom-
eter, she found 11 instances of
SAMP2 forming covalent bonds.
"Ubiquitin is so
critically involved in
cell cycle control that
we want to know
even at the most
how it functions.:'
She also compared the SAMPs' characteristics with similar pro-
teins in other archaea and suggested that SAMPs are widespread
in this domain.
Future research includes determining other functions the
SAMPs perform, as well as understanding the roles of enzymes
aiding the SAMPs.
Funding sources included the Department of Energy and the National
Institutes of Health.
Hubad M.AH .MrnaI.Lm .J.KasJ .Piz .ZoS
Team studies tree genome as a means to
boost wood production
BY SUSAN GILDERSLEEVE AND TOM NORDLIE
IFAS RESEARCH ER Matias Kirst studies genes and genetic
expression in poplar trees, investigating how they control wood
composition and growth. Funded by the U.S. Department of
Energy and the National Science Foundation, Kirst and his col-
leagues have discovered genes and gene regulation mechanisms
that help poplars survive drought and climate change. Now, the
team is learning to control the amounts of cellulose and lignin
contained in poplar cells, to emphasize certain traits and pro-
duce higher quality biomass and wood.
- P I.
Dr. Matias Kirst, associate professor, School of Forest Resources and
Conservation,, i 1 i 11 i plants i i, 11 11 modified fora key regulator of a
network of genes involved in wood formation.
Trees are good candidates for genomics research because they
possess high levels of genetic diversity. When the project began
in 2006, poplar was the only tree species with a fully sequenced
genome. The tree's extensive geographic range, from Texas to
Virginia, permitted the team to study crosses between speci-
mens adapted to widely different climates.
As part of that research, the team grew 2,400 poplars in green-
houses under controlled conditions so that each tree experi-
enced the same environment. When it came time to collect
samples and there were dozens taken from each of the 2,400
trees they all had to be taken at once.
"We had an army of graduate students'," Kirst recalls. "Over six
days we got everything sampled and organized."
With co-researchers Gary Peter, Tim Martin, Catherine
Benedict and Derek Drost, Kirst searched within poplar chro-
mosomes for genomic regions called eQTL (expression quantita-
tive trait locus) hotspots. These hotspots direct the expression
of large numbers of genes, thus controlling traits such as lignin
and cellulose production, drought resistance and leaf shape. To
identify eQTL hotspots, the team recorded the expression of all
genes in the poplar genome using a microarray, a thin glass or
plastic tile with the sequences of all known genes printed on it.
could be present many. Tl ree spel.l. -- We 211.ad an army of
ar, r,,, ,, I,,l ..... r i d H p. 1. ... ..i a, rfII. d i,- ['1l. l ll.a IL-d Z- l,,- I,..
1111 llll I 1 .,, 1d d ,n I "-' 1 'll l,1.11 l .I
could be present in many tree spe- '"We had an army of
cies and offer vast opportunities for
development of improved varieties, graduate students.
From eQTL analysis, a useful but Over six days we got
low-resolution method, the team everything sampled
is segueing into a new strategy
called association genetics, which and organized."'
should allow them to identify spe- MATIAS KIRST
cific nucleotides that control gene _______ MATIA
expression networks and traits of
interest. They hope eventually to use the knowledge to learn
how plants adapt to climate change.
"We want to know the specific nucleotides involved in adap-
tation, growth and biomass properties so that when we do
breeding we can tell whether a seedling will be a productive,
well-adapted tree, based only on its DNA," he said. "Ultimately,
this will allow us to grow the same amount of wood on less
The research was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and National
the Geeic Arht6tr of Gen Exrsso an Trncrpioa Newoksi
TO THE GULF
Iqtla !ck Of ""arm 0 was .K
Pilot research study examines the human cost
of Gulf oil spill
BY AMANDA AUBUCHON
Dr. Glenn Morris, director, Emergining P ,iF1 .. II institute.
Results of the research indicated that members of both com-
munities displayed high levels of clinically significant depres-
sion and anxiety, which are considered psychosocial impacts,
even though there was no oil in Franklin County, he said. No
evidence of neurotoxicologic impacts in which the brain or
nervous system is physically affected by oil, dispersants or other
chemicals was observed.
"The effects were fairly profound, particularly on the psychoso-
cial side, in these communities, but what was interesting to us
was the fact that it wasn't so much the presence of oil," Morris
said. "It was more the financial loss and the overall impact on
the community, which was generated because of the oil spill,
that was having the impact on the individuals."
WH ILE TH E Deepwater Horizon disaster was unfolding in the
Gulf of Mexico, causing widespread environmental damage,
economic loss and disruption of families and communities, UF's
Emerging Pathogens Institute was teaming up with IFAS exten-
sion to conduct an early assessment of the psychosocial and neu-
rotoxicologic impacts of the oil spill.
Glenn Morris, director of the Emerging Pathogens Institute
(EPI) and a professor of infectious diseases at UF, led a series
of pilot research studies in Franklin County, Fla., and Baldwin
County, Ala., in July, administering a one-hour standardized
test to nearly 100 residents. UF/IFAS extension and community
organizers recruited participants.
"Our concern was to go in there and find out what was hap-
pening," Morris said. "It's one thing to talk about it or see it on
the TV news, but you really need data. You've got to get in on
the ground and talk to people. Thanks to the excellent network
that the extension service has and the work by county exten-
sion folks, we were able to make contacts with key components
of the community to go in and do a very early assessment to
try to get a feel for what was happening within these coastal
The research revealed that resilience
vidual to bounce back from a
traumatic event is beginning to
weaken, he said, but a follow-up
study after some time has passed
is necessary to determine the true
impact of the oil spill on resilience.
A multidisciplinary consortium
from UF/IFAS, EPI, the University
of West Florida and the University
Sthe ability of an indi-
"It's one thing to talk
about it or see it on
the TV news, but you
really need data."'
of Maryland is applying for a grant from the National Institutes
of Health to continue the study and devise a plan to help people
recover on a psychological level from the impact of the oil spill,
"The pilot studies are an example of a way the university gives
back to the community," he said. "This was direct community
involvement through the university, using university resources
to try to identify specific problems. However, to keep it going,
we're going to have to find external funding."
Besides Morris, the research team included Florida Sea Grant Extension special-
ist Steve Otwell and Franklin County Extension Director and Florida Sea Grant
agent Bill Mahan. UF, IFAS and EPI funded the research.
Documenting oyster reef declines in the Big Bend
BY SUSAN GILDERSLEEVE
in the last 50 years and earlier research suggesting that reduced
Suwannee River freshwater flow could threaten oysters.
Using Florida Sea Grant funds, the wildlife ecology and con-
servation researchers began in February 2009 to map Big Bend
oyster bed distribution using high-resolution aerial imagery. By
linking the new imagery to mapping efforts in recent decades,
Dr. Peter Frederick, research professor, Department of' 1i. hi Ecology and
Conservation, reads a laser level to establish elevation profiles on oyster reefs
near Cedar Key, Florida.
OYSTER REEFS are one of the world's most important marine
habitats and one of the most endangered, having declined by
more than 90 percent from historical levels. The Gulf of Mexico
supports more than 60 percent of the healthy oyster reefs in the
world. Along the "Big Bend" area of Florida's Gulf coast, oysters
provide habitat for fish and wildlife and support commercial
fisheries and related jobs.
Those resources were threatened in 2010 by contamination
from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, but favorable wind and
water currents kept the oil away from this pristine area.
IFAS researchers Peter Frederick and Bill Pine have been study-
ing risks to Big Bend oysters from numerous threats, including
climate change and rising sea levels. Oysters are beneficial to
coastal ecosystems and human communities, shielding homes
from storm surge, mitigating erosion, filtering seawater and
creating essential marine habitats. Despite their importance, we
know little about what makes oyster reefs healthy.
"Many aspects of the ecology of the Gulf of Mexico are not well
studied, and if you don't know how a system works, it's very hard
to restore it once it's damaged'," Frederick said.
Frederick and Pine were interested in reports of changes in
oyster distribution along the undeveloped Big Bend coastline
the pair began to understand
the timing, location and extent
of reef changes. They recruited
postdoctoral fellow Jennifer
Seavey to help assemble the
photographic evidence and
began to zero in on a possible
reason for the reef changes: ris-
ing sea levels.
The team's plans changed
abruptly when the Deepwater
"We'd like to see
going, to involve people
who are normally fishing
and working here [Big
Bend]:' PETER FREDERICK
Horizon oil platform exploded in April and it became clear
that their data would be invaluable in assessing the impacts if
oil reached the Big Bend. On the other hand, if the area were
spared, the data would provide reference sites for comparison to
impacted areas. With funding from IFAS, Florida Sea Grant and
Dr. Bill Pine, assistant professor, Department of' 1i. ii Ecology and
Conservation, counts and measures oysters in a one quarter square meter
to calculate how many, both alive and dead, are on the reef The data will be
used to help Florida's oyster industry.
the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the team worked with local
fishermen to complete on-the-ground surveys of oyster health,
growth, abundance and distribution during the critical period
before the spill was capped and the oil's immediate impact on
the Gulf of Mexico was known. The scientists say IFAS' involve-
ment left the university in an excellent position to assist with
future oyster reef threats nationwide.
Pine and Frederick hope to expand the community partnerships
formed during the study.
"We'd like to see community restoration going'," Frederick said,
"we'd like to involve people who are normally fishing and work-
Pine added: "I have young children and my hope is that in 50
years they can still eat Cedar Key oysters. I think that by work-
ing now to understand what's going on in these ecosystems and
protect them, we'll be able to do that."
Besides Fredrick and Pine, the research team included Leslie Sturmer, multi-
county aquaculture extension faculty in the School of Forest Resources and
Conservation; Jennifer Seavey, postdoctoral fellow in the Department of
Wildlife Ecology and Conservation; and Mark Berrigan of the Florida Division
of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The research was funded by UF's
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, Florida Sea Grant, and the U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service.
IFAS research sheds light on Gulf Coast seagrass beds
BY MICKIE ANDERSON
represent an important food resource for endangered green sea
turtles and manatees, and they generate oxygen, dampen wave
energy, stabilize sediments to reduce shoreline erosion, seques-
ter carbon and enhance water clarity. In sum, seagrasses are
essential to the integrity, health and value of the state's estuarine
and nearshore coastal ecosystems.
Dr. Tom Frazer, professor and associate director, School of Forest Resources
and Conservation, (..11 i. seagrass along Florida's Gulf coast in an effort to
better understand the effects of excess nutrients and other contaminants on
FLORIDA'S BIG Bend is home to the second largest contiguous
seagrass habitat in North America, making it a vital resource not
only for the state, but also for the nation and the world.
These seagrass beds support Florida's multibillion dollar recre-
ational and commercial fishing industries by providing habitat
for everything from bay scallops to grouper. Seagrasses also
Unfortunately, seagrasses are
among the most threatened eco-
systems on the planet. Around
the globe, seagrass beds have dis-
appeared at the alarming rate of
about 100 square kilometers per
year since the 1980s. Improved
record-keeping since the 1990s
allows scientists to track losses in
areal extent; the data show losses of
about 7 percent a year.
"We seek a
and how that
to changes in water
Tom Frazer, associate director of quality." TOM FRAZER
the University of Florida's School of
Forest Resources and Conservation, has led UF seagrass research
on the Big Bend and Florida's Gulf Coast for the last 15 years. A
vital base for this work is Project COAST (Coastal Assessment
Team), with its network of fixed sampling stations and monitor-
ing of water quality factors, especially nutrients and planktonic
From 2010 through 2012, r
Project COAST will be aug-
mented with a study character-
izing the species composition
of seagrass communities;
quantifying areal cover, biomass
and shoot density; measur- '
ing potentially stressful algal
burdens on seagrasses; and
documenting macroalgae as
potential competitors for light
and space needed by seagrasses.
"Seagrasses are relatively light- I
hungry organisms;'," Frazer said. -
"When excess nutrients cause
excessive algal growth, less
light reaches the seagrass, and
it suffers and declines, Seagrasses provide valuable habitat
it suffers and declines. ,,ll ,,, dollar recreational and c
The value of Frazer's long-term
work was demonstrated after
the Deepwater Horizon oil spill
that began in April 2010. He
was well-positioned to expand ongoing studies -with additional
funding from Florida Sea Grant's Rapid Response Program -
and begin documenting changes following the spill.
All of this work is important, Frazer says, because once dam-
aged, seagrass beds don't recover readily.
"If you lose seagrasses, they can
take decades to recover;' he
said. "We seek a mechanistic
understanding of seagrass per-
formance and how that perfor-
mance responds to changes in
water quality. If we can predict
or garner an early warning of
a decline in (seagrass) perfor-
mance before there's a collapse,
we'll be in a better position to
do something about it.
"The ultimate goal of my
individual and collaborative
research is to develop new and
robust ecological insights and
translate them into sustainable
e organisms that support Florida's management of the Big Bend'
al fishing industries. management of the Big Bends
natural resources and similar
resources in estuaries and near-
shore coastal waters around the
world;' he said.
Besides Frazer, other researchers on the project include Chuck Jacoby, an
environmental scientist at the St. Johns River Water Management District
and a courtesy professor in UF's soil and water science department; and
scientists from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection,
Southwest Florida Water Management District and the Florida Fish and
Wildlife Conservation Commission. SWFWMD, FWC and Florida Sea Grant
funded the research.
I_ _~ LI
Florida Climate Institute aims to translate
research in timely fashion
BYTOM NORDLIE AND TRAVIS PRESCOTT
S.. I To meet this challenge, the newly established Florida Climate
Institute (FCI) has embarked on a mission to provide science-
based outreach activities and decision-making tools to residents
of the southeastern U.S. and beyond.
"There exists a real need for this kind of information at local to
regional levels and at shorter time scales," said FCI Director Jim
Jones, a distinguished professor with the University Florida's
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
Formally launched in July 2010 after a suggestion from IFAS
Research Dean Mark McLellan about expanding Jones' already-
successful climate and agriculture programs, the institute is a
co-venture between UF and Florida State University. It includes
more than 100 affiliates from around the state and nation, all
working to provide region-specific
information to help stakeholders
evaluate options for climate change
mitigation and adaptation.
Some of the issues the institute
will address include: the effects of
land-use changes on a community's
carbon footprint, altered disease
patterns caused by climate changes
and the need for reliable water sup-
plies in the face of drought.
Dr. James W. Jones ii. il', director, and Dr Eric Chassignet (left), co-director,
Florida Climate Institute, presided over the kickoff event for the Florida
Climate Institute on November 16, 2010. The Institute joins faculty from the
University of Florida and Florida State University. Research, teaching, and
outreach programs of the institute will help reduce climate risks to the econ-
omy, natural and managed ecosystems, and the built environment.
EACH YEAR, more studies show that climate variability and
climate change pose significant economic and environmental
threats worldwide. So it's more important than ever to translate
this research into meaningful, timely information for farmers,
policymakers and the public.
"There exists a real
need for this kind of
information at local to
regional levels and at
shorter time scales"
FCI affiliates, many of whom have worked on climate change for
decades, are already pursuing numerous projects.
One study investigates the hypothesis that climate disturbances
in reef areas can boost populations of dinoflagellates responsible
for ciguatera poisoning, a major human health concern in tropi-
cal and subtropical coastal areas. The dinoflagellates produce
toxins that are transmitted through the food chain to large,
edible reef fish species.
Another study focuses on developing web-based tools that
provide producers with climate forecast information and risk-
management decision aids. The target audiences include south-
eastern foresters, peanut, potato and tomato farmers, and the
extension agents who serve them.
A third study explores the potential energy that could be gener-
ated by offshore wind farms in the northern Gulf of Mexico.
Using data recorded at U.S. Air Force towers in the Apalachicola
Bay area, researchers found that wind speed was higher than
expected, suggesting that wind power might provide several
thousand megawatts of electricity to Florida residents.
For more information, visit http://FloridaClimateInstitute.org.
Research shows connection b
and nutrient runoff
Dr. Victoria Keener, framed by images of Lake Okeechobee and figures of
wavelet analysis results showing strong relationships between ENSO and
nitrate ,...11 *ii loads in the watershed.
THE EL Nifio/La Nifia-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) climate
event doesn't only cause strange weather around the globe, it
can also affect local water quality, researchers are learning.
The research finding shows the immediate and local environ-
mental effects of ENSO, which can cause seasonal patterns of
strange weather around the world. ENSO appears to be cyclical
and occurs over a span of three to seven years, with a warming
period over the equatorial Pacific Ocean known as El Nifio, a
cooling period known as La Nifia and a neutral period.
In addition to support from UF/IFAS, the Florida Climate Institute is sup-
ported by grants from the New Florida Initiative, a multiyear endeavor
launched in 2010 by the Florida Board of Governors for the State University
System to promote the creation of high-wage jobs in science, technol-
ogy, engineering and mathematics. Other multidisciplinary projects are
funded by agencies including the National Science Foundation, National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Aeronautics and Space
Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
between El Nino
BY ROBERT H. WELLS
Victoria Keener, a postdoctoral research associate in the agri-
cultural and biological engineering department, looked at
the environmental effects of ENSO on two watersheds in the
Southeast- Lake Okeechobee in Florida and the Little River
watershed in Georgia. She conducted the research for her doc-
In the Lake Okeechobee study, she used data from the South
Florida Water Management District
(SFWMD) to show relationships
between ENSO and increased
phosphorus runoff in streams. Her
study focused on basin S-191, an
area northeast of Lake Okeechobee.
The SFWMD data was inserted
into the Watershed Assessment
Model (WAM). Input data included
daily precipitation, temperatures,
solar radiation and wind speed.
Keener looked at simulated nutri-
ent loads into the lake for 36 years,
from 1965 to 2001, which included
"This model could
tell farmers and
ranchers ... when it
would be beneficial
to store more water
in retention ponds to
nine El Nifio years, 10 La Nifia years and 17 neutral years. The
assessment model demonstrated that ENSO causes significant
phosphorus loading (nutrient seepage into streams) in El Nifio
springs and La Nifia summers, and that higher precipitation was
associated with higher phosphorus loading.
To look at the environmental effects of ENSO on the Little River
watershed, Keener used a method known as wavelet analysis.
Wavelet analysis finds frequency relationships, or how often
something occurs within a particular time and in association
with other events. Using this method, Keener found that ENSO
periods are connected to changes in precipitation, the amount
of water flowing, and nitrogen fertilizer concentration and load.
For instance, El Nifio periods were associated with increased
nitrogen content in the stream flow.
Keener was also able to use data from her wavelet research to
develop a model to forecast nitrate loads, allowing land manag-
ers to better predict nutrient runoff.
when it would be beneficial to store more water in retention
ponds to remove nutrients," Keener said.
Research collaborators included U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural
Research Services in Tifton, Ga., Barry Jacobson with Soil Water Engineering
Technology in Gainesville, distinguished professor Jim Jones in the agri-
culture and biological engineering department, and the Earth Institute
at Columbia University. The research was funded by the National Oceanic
and Atmospheric Administration Climate Program Office and the USDA
Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service.
"This model could tell farmers and ranchers what their high-risk
months are for nutrient loading in a predicted ENSO phase and
Strawberry growers get help with critical decisions
BY TRAVIS PRESCOTT
potential environmental impact- without compromising dis-
ease control, fruit quality or crop yield.
This is especially good news for growers in Florida, where about
8,000 acres of land represent nearly 100 percent of the U.S. pro-
duction of winter strawberries. But while strawberries tend to
S thrive in Florida's mild winters, so do two of the most menacing
fungal diseases anthracnose fruit rot, caused by Colletotrichum
Drs. Natalia Peres, assistant professor of plant -. ,,ii .. i UF's Gulf Coast
Research and Education Center, and Clyde Fraisse, assistant professor,
Department of, iii' il, ii I and -i.. .i.. i ,I Engineering, collaborated
to develop the Strawberry Advisory System (SAS) implemented on
RESEARCH ERS AT UF's Institute of Food and Agricultural
Sciences have developed a decision-support system featuring
an innovative tool that helps strawberry growers assess the risk
of plant disease epidemics on their farms in real-time. With
this tool, growers are now able to time fungicide applications
more accurately and reduce production costs as well as the
acutatum, and Botrytis fruit rot,
caused by Botrytis cinerea. Both are
difficult and expensive to control.
"The effects of either...can be
devastating'," said Clyde Fraisse,
assistant professor with the depart-
ment of agricultural and biologi-
cal engineering, whose expertise
includes agroclimatology and soil
and water engineering. "Timing is
Since 2004, Fraisse has been a driv-
ing force in the development of
AgroClimate.org, an open-source
web-based decision support system
hosted by UF/IFAS extension.
"The climate program
at UF is working really
hard to translate
and forecasting in
such a way that the
translation can then
trigger a decision or an
"We knew that plant disease would be a strong candidate for
being part of this decision-support system, particularly given the
nature of the environment here in the Southeast with conditions
that are often warm and humid," Fraisse said. "We have some
very interesting climate patterns here that are driven by the El
Nifio Southern Oscillation (ENSO) phenomenon."
Because ENSO relates to temperature and moisture, it has
implications for plant diseases. Many plant diseases thrive in
moist conditions, so during an El Nifio year, winter crops in the
southeastern U.S. can be more susceptible. So when Fraisse was
approached by plant pathologist Natalia Peres of the UF/IFAS
Gulf Coast Research and Education Center who had been
looking at weather variability models in relation to fungicide
application timing the two worked together to understand
strawberry growers' decision-making process. Drawing upon
current and historic data provided by the Florida Automated
Weather Network (FAWN) and simulation models provided by
Peres, Fraisse developed the web-based strawberry diseases deci-
sion-aid tool to help growers time their fungicide applications.
Field tests proved that fungicide applications could be reduced
by half in some years, and without loss in fruit yield or quality,
by following the system's recommendations.
The online decision-support system and the strawberry disease
tool can be found at http://agroclimate.org/tools/strawberry/.
Using the tool, growers answer a simple series of questions
about treatments they have already applied and the developmen-
tal stage of their crop. They are then given spray recommenda-
tions and a list of possible products. A mobile application is
available for smart phones and similar tools for other crops are
"I think that when we look at sustainability of intensive agricul-
ture, these sorts of decision-support tools are the way to go in
the future. The climate program at UF is working really hard to
translate climate information and forecasting in such a way that
the translation can then trigger a decision or an adaptation',"
Fraisse said. That makes it useful and adds value."
Funding for the strawberry advisory system was provided by the USDA Risk
Management Agency. Open-source Agr-Climate is funded by the USDA
National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
Study reveals marmot population increase
linked to climate change
BY AMANDA AUBUCHON
A BURGEONING YELLOW-BELLIED marmot population
in the high elevations of the Rocky Mountains is a response to
ArpatOzgul, ecologist and former graduate student of Madan Oli, holds a
yellow bellied marmot during research on the animals in the Colorado Rocky
Mountains. The research revealed that climate change has contributed to a
substantial increase in the size and number of the mountain-, l ihi. i rodents.
PHOTO BY ARPATOZGUL
climate change, according to a
long-term collaborative research
effort involving six universities in
the U.S. and U.K. The study is the
first of its kind to demonstrate
"Since about 2000, the popula-
tion has increased really rapidly,"
said Madan Oli, a UF professor
of population ecology. "The ques-
tion is, 'Why?' For over 40 years,
the population has been fairly
stable, more or less, fluctuating
around some average value, but
"There is a lot of
evidence that climate
change influences the
timing of important
life events for plants
all of a sudden the population is increasing rapidly. One suspect
has been climate change, which is most obvious at higher
Researchers have been capturing yellow-bellied marmots in
the population four times a year, on average, and keeping track
of each animal's body mass, hibernation schedule, survival
and reproductive success since the study was started by Ken
Armitage of the University of Kansas in 1962. Researchers at
the University of Florida and Imperial College of London began
applying population modeling techniques to those data to get
a clearer picture of population ecology and dynamics and how
they are influenced by climate change.
Based on extensive survival and reproductive data collected
from 1976 to 2008, Oli and his collaborators have determined
that the average annual growth rate of the marmot population is
normally close to 2 percent. In the past 10 years, however, that
number rose to 18 percent. Marmots are also emerging from
hibernation earlier and are larger. On average, adult marmots
are now about half a kilogram bigger than they were in the years
prior to 2000. Fatter marmots have a better chance of surviv-
ing winter and are physiologically in better condition to repro-
duce, Oli said. Shorter winters are believed to be responsible
for the marmots' early emergence and increased survival and
"There is a lot of evidence that climate change influences the
phenology- the timing of important life events for plants and
animals, like flowering, hibernating schedule, migration and
reproduction," Oli said.
To help them understand the underpinnings of this rapid
population increase, Oli and his colleagues used several model-
ing techniques to analyze the long-term field data, including
mark-recapture models to estimate survival rate, generalized
linear and additive models to estimate demographic and transi-
tion functions, integral projection equation models to estimate
population growth rate, and the age-structured price equation
to determine if changes in body mass were due to evolution or
"The response of a population to climate change was mediated
through phenological change, which influenced a quantitative
trait in this case, body mass and that influenced survival
and reproduction, which led to increases in population size," Oli
The marmot population explosion is not considered to be a long-
term environmental concern, he said. Marmots require high-
quality shelter to survive the winter, and there is not much of it
in their habitat.
"It gets really, really cold, and if they don't have high-quality
hibernacula [shelter], they lose their fat reserve really, really
quickly," Oli said. "They can't survive."
Besides Oli, the research team included Arpat Ozgul and Tim Coulson,
Imperial College of London; Dylan Z. Childs, University of Sheffield; Kenneth
B. Armitage, University of Kansas; Daniel T. Blumstein and Lucretia E. Olson,
UCLA; and Shripad Tuljapurkar of Stanford University.
The research was supported by UF and funded by the National Science
Foundation, University of Kansas, UCLA and Imperial College.
_ --- -- ..
Genetic research improves sweet sorghum
Vermerris is crossing UF-developed grain sorghums with sweet
sorghums to identify genes responsible for resistance to the
common and destructive disease anthracnose. He is also screen-
ing varieties for pest resistance, such as plants that are physically
harder for worms to chew through. The ability to produce a
good crop on Florida's limited-organic-matter soils with rela-
tively low water and fertilizer input is being screened for as well.
Sugar content is also important, and to expedite breeding
efforts, Vermerris and his research team are combining genetic
mapping with high-throughput gene expression profiling. This
enables them to identify genes that control stem sugar accu-
mulation in sorghum families that are genetically similar but
differ in their stem sugar concentration and juice volume. High-
throughput sequencing technology makes it possible to quickly
Dr. Wilfred Vermerris, associate professor, Department of Agronomy, per-
forms detailed compositional analyses of improved bioenergy sorghums
using a mass spectrometer in his laboratory at the University of Florida
A MINOR FLORIDA crop, sweet sorghum, could have a posi-
tive impact on biofuel production if University of Florida
research can adapt it to grow better in the state.
Wilfred Vermerris, an associate professor in UF's agronomy
department, is leading research into the plant's potential.
Producers sometimes grow sweet sorghum for silage, but they
mostly grow grain sorghum for animal feed. Compared to grain
sorghums, sweet sorghums have taller stems full of sugar and
typically produce less grain. Sugar from the stems can be eas-
ily converted into ethanol, making the crop a renewable fuel
resource, or biofuel. Now Vermerris is developing varieties opti-
mized for Florida.
"The sweet sorghums that do exist come from Texas, Louisiana
or Kentucky," Vermerris said. "They are not necessarily adapted
to Florida in terms of climate and tolerance to pests and
assess the expression of many
genes at the same time.
Vermerris is also studying the
brown midrib (bmr) trait, which
changes the color and chemi-
cal composition of the vascular
tissue and can result in higher
sugar yields when processing
the crushed stems. The crushed
stems remain after stem juice
"The sweet sorghums
that do exist come
from Texas, Louisiana
extraction and offer an additional energy feedstock from the
The researchers have classified a new population of bmr mutants
in allelic groups based on cell wall chemistry and allelism tests,
which rely on crosses among bmr mutants to determine which
mutants are unique. Using these techniques, they discovered
four novel bmr genes different from the three known previously.
Comparisons between the chemical composition of bmr mutants
and normal control plants provide information on the role of
each of the individual bmr genes. Combining genetic mapping,
current information on cell wall biosynthesis genes, and the sor-
ghum genome sequence has enabled researchers to identify and
clone the genes mutated in the three original bmr mutants, mak-
ing it easier to develop new bmr germplasm.
Sugarcane is projected to be a main sugar source for biofuel pro-
cessing plants in South Florida. However, Vermerris said during
gaps in the sugarcane season, sweet sorghum can be harvested
as a substitute, allowing processors to operate practically year-
round. In addition, a resin biopolymer byproduct of processing
may eventually have applications in medicine for improved drug
Unique traits in some algae n
PhD student BaileyTrump and professor Edward Phlips, School of Forest
Resources and Conservation, shown in front of algae bioreactors. Shown in
foreground is a flask of the hydrocarbon-producing algae Botryococcus brou-
nii, a prime candidate for biofuels production.
THE UNIVERSITY of Florida is exploring the potential of algae
as a biofuel, or fuel from renewable resources.
Algae include species with traits like fast growth and high hydro-
carbon or fatty acid content. Hydrocarbons are almost directly
convertible into high-quality diesel fuels, whereas fatty acids are
convertible into diesel with additional processing and expense.
"If everything is optimized, per-hectare production rates of oil
from algae are theoretically higher than most land plants'," said
The research team includes postdoctoral research associates Ana Saballos
and Hector Caicedo; materials science and engineering associate engineer
Amelia Dempere; assistant professor of agronomy John Erickson and
researchers with Texas A&M University, Cornell University and the U.S.
Department of Agriculture.
The U.S. Department of Energy, IFAS and USDA fund the research.
nake them a
BY ROBERT WELLS
Ed Phlips, a professor in the fisheries and aquatic sciences pro-
gram leading the research.
The problem is that current algae species do not have all the
traits needed for viable biofuel production. For example, algae
like Botryococcus braunii produce large amounts of hydrocarbons
but are not fast growing or tolerant of extreme environments.
In contrast, Dunaliella salina is fast
growing but does not produce fatty everything
acids that are highly valued in biofuel "If everything
production. To solve this, Phlips is is optimized,
proposing to genetically alter algae
using mutagenesis and genetic per-heclare
transformation. nrnrldrtinn ratec nf
Mutagenesis is accomplished by
exposing organisms to mutagens,
such as ultraviolet light or chemicals.
The mutants are then screened for
desirable traits. Genetic transforma-
tion involves the transfer of genes
from one organism to another, also
known as recombination.
oil from algae are
than most land
Phlips has more than 100 differ-
ent algae strains to use as source material. These include
Botryococcus, Dunaliella, Synechococcus and Spirulina.
Dunaliella is a proposed target for mutagenesis. The algae grow
quickly at high salt concentrations, but produce low-quality fatty
acids in terms of biofuel production. To improve the organisms,
genes involved in fatty acid formation will be targeted for bet-
ter quality production, including negative regulators that pre-
vent biosynthesis of less desirable fatty acids. To detect these
gene alterations, researchers will use degenerate primers from
Dunaliella and other published gene sequences to design new
primers, or starting points, for each gene. Degenerate primers
are mixtures of similar primers from different organisms and
allow researchers to amplify genes. Genes must be amplified, or
reproduced in a greater number, for trait detection.
Researchers will use Synechococcus and Spirulina as host organ-
isms for recombinant hydrocarbon production capabilities, and
they have identified the genes targeted for transformation. The
algae are fast growing and tolerant of extreme environmental
conditions. Botryococcus will be the primary source of hydrocar-
bon production genes. Researchers will also target Botryococcus
for transformation by inserting intracellular sodium level reduc-
tion gene constructs to express improved salinity tolerance in
Possible algae production systems include open ponds and biore-
actors. If algae are grown primarily for fuel, open-pond systems
are the simplest, most cost-effective production choice. These
pond systems would most likely use seawater to avoid compet-
ing with drinking and irrigation water use. Self-contained, cylin-
drical bioreactors are expensive and complex but could become
more economical if the algae provide dual services, such as
waste water treatment or the production of valuable biochemi-
cals, in addition to producing biofuels.
The Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences program is part of UF's
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences' School of Forest
Resources and Conservation (SFRC).
Besides Ed Phlips, the research team includes Department of Agricultural
and Biological Engineering assistant professor Pratap Pullammanappallil,
Florida Institute for Sustainable Energy associate professor Ann Wilkie,
Environmental Horticulture Department professor Charles Guy, SFRC associ-
ate professor Matias Kirst and Department of Medicinal Chemistry associate
professor Hendrik Luesch. An IFAS Research Innovation Grant funds the
Tropical plant may become biofuel crop
SThe small, flowering tree produces seeds with high-quality oil
directly usable in diesel engines and, because of its low tem-
perature stability, capable of powering jet planes as part of a
Dr. i i, Vendrame, associate professor of environmental horticulture,
Tropical Research and Education Center (TREC) at the Jatropha germplasm
c. .11 1i .11 in TREC, Homestead, FL.
THE TROPICAL ornamental Jatropha curcas is more than just a
50/50 mix with jet fuel. Major airlines
have tested it successfully, as has the
Department of Defense in unmanned
drone aircraft. It is a perennial, favors
Florida's climate and has relatively low
water and fertilization requirements.
Jatropha curcas' potential even has
the attention of NASA, which, since
February, has used the International
Space Station to test microgravity's
effects on the plant's cell growth, devel-
opment, structure and gene expression.
end product is a
good product, but
we still don't have
enough of it.:
Wagner Vendrame, an associate profes-
sor of environmental horticulture at the Tropical Research and
Education Center (TREC) in Homestead, Florida, is assessing
the biofuel potential of the plant for the University of Florida.
Although Jatropha curcas has great potential, the plant has never
been domesticated, and oil needed for fuel tests is in low supply.
"It's still a wild species; there are no commercial cultivars,"
Vendrame said. "Everybody understands the end product is a
good product, but we still don't have enough of it, so we need to
work on crop development."
Vendrame is examining plant genetic variability and best man-
agement practices like fertilization, irrigation and pruning. The
researcher planted Jatropha curcas in test plots in June 2010.
The plots contain 17 plant accessions representing 12 countries.
The seeds were germinated in trays in April 2009 and grown
in containers before being planted in the field. Soil used was
Krome very gravelly loam plowed to four to seven inches
deep with a pH of 7.4 to 8.4, low water-holding capacity, 3 to
10 percent organic matter content and low inherent nutrient
content. Plants were fertilized monthly with 100 200 grams
of 6N-5P20 -15K20 and irrigated every other day using a micro-
sprinkler. No micronutrients or pruning were applied.
From the plots, the researcher found differences in leaf shape,
plant size, architecture and fruit shape and size. After seven
months, accessions known as Indonesia and Costa Rica had
the tallest plants, while accessions known as Brazil-EPB and
Tanzania had the smallest. After five months, percent increase
in trunk diameter was greatest for the accession known as
Brazil-UFPR, while it was the least for the accessions known
as Brazil Plain and Indian. Accessions Indonesia, Indian and
Brazil Plain produced the most seeds, while accessions Ethiopia
and Mozambique produced the least. For total seed dry weight
per plant, Indian, Indonesia and Brazil Plain accessions were
the heaviest; Ethiopia, Mozambique and Indian AAF were the
Further research should reveal genetic variability's effect on seed
yield and oil content. Vendrame is also developing protocols for
clonal propagation for multiple plant production.
A surprise in the research was the plants' ability to recover
from last winter's below-freezing temperatures. The plants are
not cold tolerant, but with insulating overhead irrigation, they
reemerged after the cold spell greener and more luscious.
The research team includes Jonathan Crane, horticultural sciences professor
and associate TREC director; Edward Evans, a food and resource economics
assistant professor and TREC associate director; Kimberly Moore, an envi-
ronmental horticulture associate professor at the Fort Lauderdale Research
and Education Center; visiting researcher Edson Leite; and Ann Wilkie, a soil
and water science associate professor. The work is funded by Vecenergy, the
Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the University
of Colorado's BioServe Center and EMBRAPA, Brazil's agricultural research
Research examines woody biomass energy for Florida
BY ROBERT WELLS
ELECTRIC POWER generation from woody biomass can
increase economic activity and raise state government revenues
but must be produced sustainably, University of Florida research
Woody biomass, such as urban wood waste, logging residue and
harvestable timber, is a renewable resource that can be burned
to produce electricity or processed to produce liquid biofuels.
In response to growing interest
in renewable energy, the 2008
Florida Legislature mandated
a research effort to evaluate its
potential impact to the state.
Two studies by UF researchers
were commissioned one examining the impact on Florida's
economy, was led by Alan Hodges, an Extension scientist in the
food and resource economics department, and a second examin-
ing the impact on forest resources, was led by Douglas Carter, a
professor in the school of forest resources and conservation.
A starting point for the research was a proposal by the Florida
Public Service Commission for a 20 percent renewable portfolio
standard (RPS), which means
that renewable energy would
be required to generate 20
percent of Florida's electricity.
To produce this level of elec-
tricity would require to up to
"Our model found that the use of woody
biomass for renewable power generation
would have a significant positive impact on the
Drs. Douglas Carter 11. ii l- professor, School of Forest Resources and
Conservation, and Alan Hodges, Extension scientist, Food and Resource
Economics, display a sample of shredded wood suitable for use as a solid
biofuel for electric power i I 1 i...-
70 million tons of green undriedd) woody biomass by the year
Hodges examined the economic impact using a computable
general equilibrium (CGE) model of Florida's economy, which
describes the economy in transactions between industries,
households and the government. It can adjust for economic
changes and allows for the computation of gross domestic
product (GDP), employment, income and output of each sec-
tor. Hodges simulated the model over a range of 1 to 80 million
green tons of wood biomass annually for electricity at $30 per
ton and also for various state and federal incentives.
"Our model found that the use of woody biomass for renewable
power generation would have a significant positive impact on
the state's economy," Hodges said. His mid-range estimate of
New acid for cellulosic ethan
has multiple benefits
UNIVERSITY OF Florida researchers are improving cellulosic
ethanol processing by introducing a different acid into the mix,
an innovation that could lead to lower equipment costs, higher
efficiency and useful agricultural byproducts.
Cellulosic ethanol is a biofuel produced by saccharifying (break-
ing down) plant biomass like stalks, sugarcane bagasse and
40 million tons of green biomass for power generation would
increase Florida's GDP by about $2 billion. Employment would
also increase, particularly in the forestry sector.
Carter looked at the forest resources impact by using the
Subregional Timber Supply model to predict effects on timber
prices, harvests and inventories. Carter examined the effects
of a 20, 12 and 7 percent RPS using different woody biomass
"We found that a 20 percent RPS would have a deleterious
impact on both forest sustainability and inventory and on the
existing forest products industry," Carter said. "Forest resources
would not even be able to supply what is required under a 20
percent RPS because of the effect of the decline on inventory
However, Carter said a 7 percent RPS is more feasible. This
RPS would mainly use urban woody waste and logging residues,
along with forest inventory reserves, to meet the demand with-
out hurting forest sustainability. Short-rotation energy crop pro-
duction could also emerge to meet demand.
"We recommended that a 7 percent RPS be considered at least
to begin with'," Carter said. "We felt like that could be a feasible
starting point for setting a mandatory RPS."
Fred Rossi, a postdoctoral research associate in the SFRC; and Bob Abt, a pro-
fessor in the Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources at North
Carolina State University assisted Carter in the research. Assisting Hodges
was Thomas J. Stevens, postdoctoral associate; and Mohammad Rahmani,
coordinator of economic analysis, both with FRED. The Florida Department
of Agriculture and Consumer Services Division of Forestry and IFAS funded
BY ROBERT WELLS
wood chips, from polysaccharides into simple sugars-or mono-
saccharides that are then fermented into ethanol fuel. Bagasse
is woody waste from sugarcane processing.
Lonnie Ingram, a professor of microbiology and cell science,
leads the cellulosic ethanol research.
- P I.
Lonnie Ingram (left), professor and director, Florida Center for Renewable
Chemicals and Fuels (FCRC) and K. T Shanmugam, professor, Department
of N'i -'. + .... i and Cell Science, examining a fermenter used to convert
woody biomass into ethanol for fuel.
"Most other processes for breaking down woods with acids
have used sulfuric acid, which is a very strong acid so strong
that you have to use very exotic and expensive steel alloys or
even zirconium in order to conduct the reactions," he said.
"But with the acid we use, which is primarily phosphoric, it is a
much gentler acid, and we can use less expensive stainless steel
Ingram and his team tested using phosphoric acid and compared
the results with bagasse samples solubilized with sulfuric acid
and analyzed using U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory
The researchers dissolved bagasse samples with dilute phos-
phoric acid to estimate structural, or nondissolved, carbohy-
drates and sugar yields. They soaked the samples in phosphoric
acid in 250-milliliter flasks for three hours and autoclaved them,
for sterilization, for one hour. After adjustment for evaporative
losses, they measured soluble sugars and hemicellulose (insol-
uble) sugars. Average monosaccharide yield was comparable to
yield from using sulfuric acid in the NREL method.
They also tested solubilizing phosphoric-acid-soaked bagasse
with fungal cellulases to release more sugars. They placed
bagasse in flasks and autoclaved it along with 2 percent
pil -p ,- wa iv i ,1- Il ti .. 1-45 IS- i-- i.n . Adli.i,
,- li ..I a d di, ..r r .. ,i.A_ 45 p-i,,- irni. _KO H i.- pH d.i'. l2-_
i. ,,,aii -i ,iii ,lil ,,, i in... ,-lll.... ,,' .i. .. ,,- lll.. I \\ ii" a,,
N.- i -% i ,n .-IS S FI . ...In ,-, .l , r .- a -i I ... ... i ,- '-"i.. ...-
1lIi I TI. t'- i ni i I iaii. '-I In lt i-i' I I ii i ii ill 1 .1 I
O '-,all I""'- I I, I 1 ,- r I .r -. ,l .... II .. Ia ... W l I '. '-I I. l l -
S A ll l...l. I I I I l- l l l. |l .- 1 1 1[ !-. , ,i l ,,, ,, a I 'll I.l ,-i l. I, l .. ,,,- ; l .
1 a -, 1 l a l C. l -11-.. .1' p .- ,- l . I I . Ii .. I I 'l,.I,,,d -
abuuL SO pciclCiL ul phiuphallLtc lcal be icCu tid Hui u lumil.
That and the remaining mineral
solution can be used for crop
fertilization. "We would like
"We would like everything that
comes in the front door to leave
out the back packaged as a com-
modity that is useful,"' Ingram
said. "The main components in
fertilizer are nitrogen, phospho-
rus, iron, magnesium, potassium,
trace metals. Those are exactly
the compounds we use in our cel-
lulosic ethanol process."
comes in the front
door to leave out the
back packaged as a
commodity that is
useful." LONNIE INGRAM
Future research includes continuing to increase ethanol con-
centration achieved per unit of biomass. The team has achieved
nearly 3.5 percent concentration, with a goal of more than 4
In addition to Ingram, the research team includes senior industrial process
engineers Claudia Geddes and Ismael Nieves, senior microbiologist Mike
Mullinnix, and Microbiology and Cell Science Department professor K. T.
Funding sources include industries licensing Ingram's technology, the state of
Florida, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Energy.
Responding to the threat of citrus black spot
BY AMANDA AUBUCHON
" -1 -%.. I. l l I., . h c -.L'.'. 1 1,, I,,Il. '.11 1.1- .[ - 1. Ih -. 11 '.
I. ,,, I I h l.. .l T I 1. I I I I. I r .I h I I I I I .I I L l 1 .. I I
Ih.l. I'- I. l I ".. '.- '. II Il. I I.- 1 1.i' 1", l l, 0 ,, l I l. 1.
i nl i 1. ,a r-i i- n i ul '. n, I ii ,'- iiriii.i i, '- I ni d 11 m l'-' i
i. i!- Iii.
Lhan6ks 111 pa'L LU LteaLlllenlls already 111 plaCe fur CILLls Ccankel',
a disease that is well established in Florida. Treatment of citrus
canker includes the spraying of copper fungicides, which have
also proven effective against citrus black spot in other countries,
Applied fungicide trials have yet to begin, but tests are being
conducted in petri dishes at the Gulf Coast Research and
Dr. Megan Dewdney, assistant professor of plant i ..i... UF's Citrus
Research and Education Center, changing the weeks tubes on the cyclone
spore trap so that her lab can measure the proportion of Guignordia citri
carpa and G. mangiferae spores that are ejected in a day. These fungi cannot
be ii 11. ,ii 11 .1 I by morphology but one causes citrus black spot and the
other is not iii ... i i on citrus.
CITRUS BLACK spot, a formerly exotic fungal disease, became
a threat to Florida citrus when it was discovered in the state
in March 2010. A team of IFAS researchers has been working
to determine how to contain and manage the disease before it
Citrus black spot is caused by the nonnative fungus Guignardia
citricarpa, which reproduces in leaf litter and inoculates trees by
spread of its ascospores, usually during rains or irrigation. While
not fatal to the tree, the disease can cause significant fruit drop
and render portions of a crop unusable. Fruits that do survive to
maturity can have lesions, making them unsuitable for export,
though internal quality is not affected and they can still be pro-
cessed for juice. Citrus black spot is particularly problematic
for late-harvested sweet oranges, such as Valencia, said assis-
tant professor and plant pathology Extension specialist Megan
Education Center in Balm to
establish a baseline for strobilurin
fungicides, another class of fungi-
cides that has proven effective in
managing citrus black spot in other
countries. They are also investigat-
ing the efficacy of new compounds.
Dewdney and fellow researchers are
trying to determine the potential for
the disease to develop resistance to
Spore-trapping studies are also
under way to track how often the
"Citrus black spot
problematic for late-
oranges, such as
ascospores of G. citricarpa are ejected from the leaf litter and in
what quantity. To do this, a machine sucks air from the leaf litter
at a very precise rate, depositing spores on a tape spool with a
clock. The tape is collected weekly and examined under a micro-
scope. G. citricarpa spores, however, look identical to the spores
of a native, harmless fungus known as G. mangiferae. To distin-
guish harmful spores from harmless ones, a molecular technique
known as quantitative PCR is used to determine the proportion
of spores of each type.
Dewdney and her colleagues will soon be working on leaf litter
degradation studies as well, determining how they can encour-
age leaf litter to degrade more quickly and whether quicker deg-
radation could impact the fungus's maturity, pushing it forward
in its life cycle so that it misses the susceptible fruit and leaves.
Leaf litter degradation has been useful in managing citrus black
spot in other countries, Dewdney said.
Dewdney's team includes senior biological scientist Sachindra Mondal,
research associate Nan-Yi Wang, postdoctoral associate Jiahuai Hu, assis-
tant professor of plant pathology Natalia Peres, associate professor Mark
Ritenour and program assistant JamieYates. The project is funded by APHIS
and the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
IFAS team works to save state's avocado industry
from laurel wilt
BY AMANDA AUBUCHON
Randy Ploetz, a plant pathology professor at TREC, has been
screening avocado cultivars for their susceptibility to the patho-
gen. A variety called Simmonds,
which makes up 33 percent of
Florida's commercial avocado acre-
age, has been consistently suscep-
tible. The state's avocado crop earns
about $30 million a year.
Ploetz has also been studying how
the disease moves through an area.
So far, laurel wilt has spread as far
south as Martin County, about 100
Faculty atTREC-Homestead who work on laurel wilt of avocado: (left to ,, ii
Jonathan Crane, professor of horticultural sciences; Jorge Pena, professor
of entomology; E, I .ill, 'TEvans, associate professor of ii, ,iii, i I eco-
nomics; and Randy Ploetz, professor of plant !. ii ...
RESEARCH ERS AT UF's Institute of Food and Agricultural
Sciences, the University of Minnesota, and the USDA are collab-
orating to save the state's avocado industry and several species
of landscape and native trees from the advancing threat of laurel
wilt, a virulent and fast-acting fungal disease spread by the inva-
sive redbay ambrosia beetle.
The disease is caused by a fungus that attacks trees in the
Lauraceae family, which includes bay laurel and avocado, caus-
ing them to wilt and die within months. Jonathan Crane, a tropi-
cal fruit crop specialist at the Tropical Research and Education
Center (TREC) in Homestead, said the beetles carry the fungus
with them and inoculate trees, where the fungus serves as their
Beetles carry the
fungus with them and
inoculate trees, where
the fungus serves
as their food source.
miles north of the state's primary commercial avocado-growing
areas in south Miami-Dade County.
Dr. Jason Smith, assistant professor of forest i. i ..i... i Forest Resources
and Conservation, examines 11 ,, trees being used to elucidate the host
. i -...i i interaction in Laurel wilt disease.
Ploetz has tested different fungicides and fungicide applica-
tion methods to determine how best to protect the trees.
Macroinfusion, in which trees are injected with large volumes
of fungicide, has shown good results, but is too time-consuming
and expensive to be a viable option for avocado growers, he said.
So alternative injection technologies, application methods and
fungicides are being explored.
Jorge Pefia, an entomologist at TREC, has been studying beetle
behavior and biology, as well as repellents and pesticides. Some
pesticides delay disease incidence, mostly by killing the beetle,
and a repellent known as BeetleBlock has shown promise in
reducing the number of beetles boring into avocado logs, though
tests have yet to begin on live trees, he said.
Jason Smith, a UF assistant professor of forest pathology in the
School of Forest Resources and Conservation, has been studying
whether pruning equipment can transmit the disease and if the
beetle and pathogen can survive in mulch made from infected
trees. Smith and his graduate students have used conventional
tools, such as chainsaws and hand saws, to cut first into infected
trees and then into healthy trees to see if they become infected.
So far, the pathogen has not been transmitted via tools and has
not survived long in wood chips.
"It's just not the type of pathogen that's able to live on tools and
debris for very long," Smith said. "It needs to be in a host to sur-
vive for very long."
Smith has been developing a molecular diagnostic tool to iden-
tify the pathogen without having to await the results of cultures,
which can take three to four weeks. Using 454 DNA sequencing,
Smith is working to identify microsatellites short sequences of
DNA that are specific to a particular organism to quickly and
accurately detect the pathogen without the need for a culture.
Smith is also exploring the possibility of naturally resistant
redbay trees, taking cuttings from surviving redbay trees in
hard-hit areas and propagating them for artificial inoculation
Smith, Ploetz and collaborators at the University of Minnesota
are exploring how laurel wilt kills trees. Recent results indicate
that the pathogen colonizes the water-conducting tissue of trees
and induces blockage in these tissues, which are both typical of
other vascular wilt diseases. Smith is studying whether the rapid
wilting and death associated with these events is due to the
pathogen's production of a toxin.
Besides Crane, Ploetz, Peia and Smith, the research team includes John
Capinera and Gurpreet Brar of the UF entomology department and Edward
Evans, an agricultural economist at TREC. The research is funded by the
University of Florida, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Avocado
Enemy may be important ally in fight against
= VA Drs. William Dawson, Eminent Scholar and professor of plant i..i... and
_ Svetlana Folimonova, research assistant scientist, UFs Citrus Research and
Education Center, Lake Alfred, FL.
IN TH E war against citrus greening, UF researchers may have
found an ally in an old enemy, citrus tristeza virus (CTV).
Citrus greening, also known as Huanglongbing (HLB), poses a
formidable threat to Florida's $9.3 billion citrus industry.
The rapid spread of the bacterial disease, combined with the
effect of hurricanes, citrus canker and suburban development,
have reduced the number of productive trees in Florida. If a
solution isn't found fast, it may have irreparable consequences
for the industry.
This has led to much research about ways to combat citrus
greening disease. Two IFAS research teams, led by William
Dawson and Svetlana Folimonova, are searching for a way to
deliver a cure using citrus tristeza virus as a vector in a sense,
inducing resistance in citrus trees by introducing genes carried
by the tristeza virus.
Dawson, eminent scholar and J.R. and Addie S. Graves Chair at
the Citrus Research and Education Center, has been researching
viral vectors in plants and trees throughout his career. Nearly
two decades ago, Dawson's team manipulated tobacco mosaic
virus to express a foreign gene before he was able to do the same
Dawson's team discovered it could manipulate the T36 strain of
CTV to express a foreign gene by inserting it in a precise section
of the virus. These genes could in turn express favorable traits
such as disease resistance in citrus trees, but only for a limited
amount of time and without passing it on to subsequent genera-
tions. His team found that the CTV vectors are stable compared
to other vectors. In lab trials, the CTV vectors have expressed
the foreign genes for more than six years.
"As a guess, if you put the virus with a gene that would control
citrus greening into young plants in the field, we think some-
where around 80 percent of the plants would have the gene
after 10 years, but some of them would lose it," Dawson said.
At this point, the CTV vector tool could be used to express genes
in young citrus trees in the field. But for the tool to work against
citrus greening, researchers must find a gene that expresses a
resistance to HLB.
Using the vector tool in the field would be a stopgap until other
measures are found to fight citrus greening. UF's Office of
Technology and Licensing has applied for several patents related
to Dawson's use of CTV vectors.
Dawson's team is screening genes for one that could be used in
the CTV vector to make citrus trees in the field HLB-resistant.
Folimonova's team is researching ways to use the vector in trees
already infected with CTV, since it is endemic in Florida.
The team will start field testing soon because it received USDA
and EPA approval. Finding a gene
that resists HLB may take signifi-
cant time, and if a gene is found, it
must undergo rigorous health and
environmental tests before it is in
"Obtaining proof that this approach
is safe and for it to be approved
for use in a food crop is a costly
hurdle, which will be the focus of
other entities of the citrus industry,
and will take considerable time,"'
Dawson said. "So it is important
"So it is important
that we move as fast
as possible to bring it
to the next steps so
that it will become
available for growers
in a few years."'
that we move as fast as possible to bring it to the next steps so
that it will become available for growers in a few years."
The project was funded by the Citrus Research and Development
Foundation, Inc., an endowment from the J.R. and Addie S. Graves family,
and partially funded by the citrus growers and other competitive grants.
Researchers working to reduce orange rust
losses in sugarcane
BY AMANDA AUBUCHON
Researchers have discovered that some sugarcane varieties are
S more susceptible to orange rust than others. However, because
sugarcane is a perennial crop and is replanted only once every
three or four years, changing to a more resistant variety is a slow
Almost 71 percent of Florida sugarcane acreage is currently
planted with cultivars that are susceptible to orange rust.
Fortunately, only one, called CL85-1040, is highly susceptible.
Through variety trials, during which each variety is rated in
terms of its reaction to orange rust, Raid and his colleagues have
been trying to ascertain which varieties are more resistant so
that growers will know what to plant in the future and whether
they need to try to control the rust with low-risk fungicides.
"The growers know they've got a problem, but they don't know
Dr. Richard Raid, professor of plant ii..i. I UFs Everglades Research and
Education Center, Belle Glade, FL, examines sugarcane leaves for orange rust,
caused by Puccinia kuehnii.
ORANGE RUST, an airborne fungal disease of sugarcane pre-
viously known only in Southeast Asia and Australia, arrived in
Florida in 2007, causing yield losses as high as 53 percent in one
susceptible cultivar. Since then, University of Florida and USDA
researchers have been collaborating to find effective ways to
manage the disease.
"It spread pretty much throughout the entire Florida industry
within the space of that first year, and because we're growing
sugarcane all year round, the fungus is here to stay," said Richard
Raid, professor of plant pathology for UF/IFAS.
The fungus, Puccinia kuehnii, is an obligate parasite, meaning
it requires a living host in order to complete its life cycle and
"It takes nutrients that the plant would be utilizing to produce
sugar, and it uses those nutrients to produce spores. Eventually,
the pathogen kills the leaf tissue and reduces the amount of
sugar that forms in the stalk'," Raid said.
the extent of that problem. By
quantifying yield loss, growers
can then decide how to best man-
age the disease'," Raid said.
Raid has also been researching
chemical control methods that
can limit the scope of an out-
break and possibly preserve sus-
ceptible varieties until they can
be replaced with more resistant
"It spread pretty much
throughout the entire
Florida industry within
the space of that first
year... RICHARD RAID
ones. Fungicide trials have involved pyraclostrobin and metcon-
azole, compounds recently registered for sugarcane based upon
"Sugarcane is a resilient crop and doesn't typically require much
in the way of chemical intervention'," Raid said. "However, since
growers cannot switch out varieties in a single year, these regis-
trations have allowed the industry to negate some of the signifi-
cant losses that would have occurred in their absence."
Raid has been encouraging growers to diversify the varieties
they plant to decrease yield loss due to potential new variants of
Both now and going forward, the major focus is developing a
comprehensive management program that concentrates on
resistant varieties, the use of fungicides where warranted, and
cultivar diversification, Raid said.
Besides Raid, collaborators on the project include, Jack Comstock, Research
Plant Pathologist, USDA and Neil Glynn, Molecular Biologist, USDA,
Sugarcane Field Station at Canal Point; and the sugarcane industry. The proj-
ect is funded through a T-STAR grant, the sugarcane industry and the USDA.
Protecting Florida bromeliads from the
Mexican Bromeliad Weevil
Left to right: research associate Teresa Cooper, assistant professor Ronald
Cave, and senior bioscientist i. 11 Smith, UF's Indian River Research and
Education Center, Ft. Pierce, FL, hanging a box of sentinel pineapple tops in a
tree at the Oxbow Ecocenter in Port St. Lucie to detect establishment of the
parasitic fly Lixodmontia franki.
THE INVASIVE Mexican bromeliad weevil, Metamasius cal-
lizona, arrived in Florida 1989 on an ornamental bromeliad
imported from Mexico. Since then, the weevil has crept through
southern Florida, from Broward to Volusia, Hillsborough and
Pinellas counties, feeding on 12 of our 16 native bromeliad
species, in some cases so voraciously that it destroyed local
populations. To salvage what remains of the state's bromeliads,
researchers Ronald Cave and Teresa Cooper of the Indian River
Research and Education Center in Fort Pierce developed a way
to mass-rear a natural enemy of the weevil. They are now inves-
tigating ways to establish and monitor populations of the wee-
vil's natural enemies in the environment.
BY SUSAN GILDERSLEEVE
Pesticides control the weevil well in nurseries and small, con-
trolled environments, but are useless in the wild. Chemical con-
trols are illegal for use in the parks where bromeliads are under
attack. They're also ineffective, Cooper said.
To work, pesticides must be introduced into the center of each
bromeliad. Dusted over a large area, chemicals will adhere to
the plant's outer parts and never reach the larval weevils gnaw-
ing at their hearts. With funding from the Florida Department
of Agriculture and Consumer Services and Tropical and
Subtropical Agricultural Research program (T-STAR) and with
support from the Florida Council of Bromeliad Societies, Cave
and Cooper are developing methods to control the weevil in
wild landscapes. In 1993 in the
cloud forests of Honduras, Cave "iWe can use
discovered Lixadmontia franki, a new something that exists
and then-undescribed parasitic fly
species. The fly, which Cave named in nature to solve a
after fellow UF/IFAS researcher man-made problem:
Howard Frank, only parasitizes
bromeliad-eating weevils. That RONALD CAVE
makes it safe to use because it will
not attack beneficial organisms.
"We can use something that exists in nature to solve a man-
made problem;'," Cave said.
The work to develop natural enemy populations becomes
increasingly crucial as the weevil continues to creep through
Florida. It has already encroached upon the Big Cypress
National Preserve and Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park,
two areas with the greatest diversity of bromeliads in the United
States. Rare species, some that were once so common they epit-
omized the subtropical environment of South Florida, are at risk
of extirpation. If the bromeliads continue to be decimated, the
state also stands to lose several animal species dependent upon
them for habitat, water, and food.
Cooper's laboratory work has revealed much about L. franki's
biology and life cycle. After it hatches, the fly larva sets off in
search of larval weevils nestled inside the bromeliad. When it
finds a weevil larva, the immature fly bores into its body and
taps into its respiratory ducts to steal air from its host's respi-
ratory system. The weevil dies when the maggot emerges to
pupate. Cooper has developed rearing techniques to produce
large numbers of the parasitic fly in the lab; now she is working
to translate those successes to the field.
Apopka team works to thwar
chilli thrips in peppers
Left to right: Drs. Steven Arthurs, assistant professor of entomology; Lance
Osborne, professor of entomology; and Jianjun Chen, professor of environ-
mental horticulture, UF's Mid-Florida Research and Education Center, evalu-
ate pepper plants for damage from chilli thrips.
RESEARCH ERS AT UF's Mid-Florida Research and Education
Center in Apopka have discovered new methods to manage the
chilli thrips, Scirtothrips dorsalis (Hood), a tiny invader with
big potential to threaten crops in Florida. With funding from
the Tropical and Subtropical Agricultural Research program
(T-STAR), Jianjun Chen, associate professor of plant physiology
and a team of researchers are developing new ways to target this
pest. The Apopka team's Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
The ongoing development of management practices using L.
franki should allow managers to establish viable populations of
these beneficial natural enemies in the field and suppress the
weevil sufficiently to allow Florida bromeliads to flourish once
Besides Cave and Cooper, other researchers who helped conduct the work
included Howard Frank, Barbra Larson, Alonso Suazo and Jorge Salas.
The research was funded by T-STAR, the Department of Environmental
Protection, Florida Park Service, South Florida Water Management District
and the Florida Council of Bromeliad Societies.
BY SUSAN GILDERSLEEVE
toolkit will enable producers to supplement recommended pes-
ticides with improved biological control methods, better breed-
ing techniques to heighten natural resistance and, possibly,
cultural practices to enhance pest resistance in greenhouse and
The chilli thrips is a voracious feeder with an array of hosts,
including peppers, strawberries and other food crops, ornamen-
tals like roses, and commodities like cotton. Additionally, chilli
thrips may vector viruses destructive to peanut and tobacco.
According to a 2006 USDA esti-
mate, the species could cause $3 "Chilli thrips is a
billion in damage in the United
States. Its potential range extends big issue to the
as far as Oregon, and entomolo- agricultural industry:"
gist Steven Arthurs said reports
from landscapers indicate the JIANJUN CHEN
pest is spreading northward
within Florida. Entomology
professor Lance Osborne added that it is already established on
roses growing outdoors in Louisiana. "It can invade fields only in
the southern tier states, but in protected agriculture chilli thrips
can range across the globe," he said.
Chen sums it up succinctly: "Chilli thrips is a big issue to the
Alternatives to pesticides are desperately needed to prevent
their overuse and the associated risk of pesticide resistance.
Seeking new sustainable management strategies, Chen's group
screened 158 pepper cultivars and discovered 14 with resistance
to chilli thrips.
In pursuit of effective cultural practices for peppers, the team
experimented with silicon, an element that strengthens plant
cell walls. They discovered that pepper readily bioaccumulated
silicon applied to the soil or leaves and showed a slight, though
at present inconclusive, increase in resistance.
Research into biological control methods yielded the most
promising results. Pirate bugs, Orius insidiosus, are the primary
biological control in use to combat thrips in Florida's peppers,
but the Apopka team found that two species of predatory mites,
Neoseiulus cucumeris and Amblyesius swirskii, also thrive on
thrips. They discovered that A. swirskii provided better control
than N. cucumeris, and further determined that A. swirskii coex-
isted well with pirate bugs.
Among the team's innovations is an apparatus invented by post-
doctoral research associate Mahmut Dogramaci to transport
thrips and mites during controlled experiments from plant to
plant. His mini-aspirator moves the insects on a breath of air,
greatly improving efficiency and accuracy and leaving the study
subjects unharmed. The old way, plucking them up on the tip
of a moist watercolor brush, was labor-intensive and harmful to
the insects. The mini-aspirator appears poised to become state-
of-the-art equipment for any research involving the transport of
Next the team will integrate its discoveries in each aspect of pest
management to determine the best combinations of biological
control methods, resistant cultivars and cultural practices to
control chilli thrips in pepper effectively and sustainably.
Protecting Florida crops from the Red Palm Mite
BY SUSAN GILDERSLEEVE
Pefia and Daniel Carrillo, both of the Tropical Research and
Education Center in Homestead, worried that an uncontrolled
infestation could harm Florida's ornamental plant industry and
damage the state's iconic palm trees.
"I knew eventually the mite would get here," Pefia said.
Dr. Jorge E. Pena, professor of entomology and nematology and Ph.D.
student Daniel Carrillo, UFs Tropical Research and Education Center,
Homestead, FL, ii, 1 111, i infestations of the red palm mite.
RESEARCH ERS WITH UF's Institute of Food and Agricultural
Sciences were working to defend Florida crops from the red
palm mite for years before the pest even appeared in Florida.
The red palm mite, Raoiella indica, infests palms, gingers,
bananas and several ornamental plant species. Researchers Jorge
To prepare, he traveled to the
Caribbean and other areas the pest
was already established to find the
best way to detect mite populations
and estimate population size. In
a project funded by the Tropical
and Subtropical Agricultural
Research program (T-STAR), Pefia
and his team cooperated with the
University of Puerto Rico and the
USDA's Animal and Plant Health
Inspection Service to develop a pro-
"We knew what was
happening in palms in
relation to biological
control agents two
years before the mite's
arrival JORGE PENA
cedure standardizing the selection of palms, fronds, and pinnae
(the individual leaflets on a palm frond) to examine for mites
and quickly find infestations. The new method makes it possible
to estimate mite populations accurately from a relatively small
amount of data, reduces the margin of error and allows manag-
ers and producers to spot mite infestations early on.
Before the first mite was discovered in a West Palm Beach nurs-
ery in late 2007, Pefia and colleagues had spent many days in the
field combing through the fronds of various species of palms in
search of a natural defense against the pest. Fortunately, they
found natural enemies already thriving.
"We knew what was happening in palms in relation to biological
control agents two years before the mite's arrival," Pefia said.
In tropical countries, where infestations can be devastating,
rumors of the red palm mite's destructive powers spread as
quickly as the mite itself. Soon, an improbably wide range of
crops ranging from beans to basil were said to be threatened. To
develop an accurate description of the pest and its eating habits,
the researchers surveyed palm collections in botanical gardens
of Florida and the Caribbean and sorted out which plants were
in the pest's host range. They found that thatch palms and many
other prized Florida native plants are safe from the mite. And
many of the food crops rumored to be vulnerable were not
affected: The mite does not feed on beans, basil or durian.
The research findings will assist producers and managers not
only in Florida but in other countries battling the pest, indicat-
ing where to look for the mite and which crops to protect.
Researchers continued testing and learned that the most effec-
tive among the red mite's natural enemies is a phytoseiid mite,
Now the research has reached the last and most challenging
stage: testing Amblyseius largoensis under field conditions. Pefia
and Carrillo are experimenting with pollen, a food source for A.
largensis that increases its fecundity. They hope to boost popula-
tions of the native natural enemy for better red palm mite con-
trol in the future.
Besides Peia and Carrillo, the research team included Jose C.V. Rodrigues of
the University of Puerto Rico and Amy Roda and Divina Amalin of the USDA's
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. The research was funded by
T-STAR and APHIS PPQ.
UF researchers fight crop-destroying late blight
BY AMANDA AUBUCHON
A LONG-ESTABLISH ED AND devastating plant disease is
taking new forms to survive, and researchers at UF and several
institutions in the U.S. and around the world are collaborating
to combat it.
Dr. Pamela Roberts, professor of plant i.i... i UFs Southwest Florida
Research and Education Center, Immokalee, FL. prepares tomato tissue to
isolate Phytophthorainfestans, the 11i .. ii causing late .ii. iii
In Florida, late blight, caused
by the fungal-like organism
Phytophthora infestans, occurs
on tomatoes and potatoes dur-
ing winter and leads to decay
and crop loss. An outbreak and
subsequent epidemic in 2005 led
to the discovery that novel geno-
types had emerged, resulting in
new efforts to control the disease.
"Literally millions of
dollars are spent to
control [late blight]
"Historically, it's probably one of the most important plant dis-
eases in the world because of its destructiveness to plants and
the devastation in crop losses that it causes'," said Pam Roberts,
a professor with UF's plant pathology department. "It's so very
important in today's market. Literally millions of dollars are
spent to control it worldwide."
Collaborating with fellow researchers from the USDA, Cornell
University, North Carolina State University, the Scottish Crop
Research Institute and Glades Crop Care, Inc., Roberts and her
colleagues are working on several approaches to control the lat-
est incarnations of the disease. The group began by using DNA
fingerprinting and other techniques to characterize the new
genotypes and to document that the pathogen is changing.
"We've had three major genotype changes since 2005, and we're
also detecting some smaller unique genotypes in the popula-
tions'," Roberts said.
Researchers are also working to understand the epidemiology
of the disease, trying to determine where the inoculum is com-
ing from, why the blight occurs regularly every winter, and
what the driving forces are behind the new genotypes, she said.
Researchers will conduct spore-trapping experiments in hopes
of detecting the disease early and tracking sporangia movement.
"A number of different plants have been reported to be infected
by P. infestans, including petunia and weeds, such as night-
shade'," Roberts said. "We're looking at some of those sources to
see if we can detect it and see if they're an important source of
Fungicides and fungicide regimes are also undergoing testing.
Fungicide must be applied before late blight is present to be
effective, she said. Fungicide use on U.S. potato crops costs more
than $75 million a year, and chemical control for tomato crops
can cost up to $150 per acre. To help producers know when to
apply fungicide, Roberts will be working with Cornell to adapt
its Web-based decision support model to Florida conditions.
Roberts and her colleagues have also been observing late blight
in tomato lines with documented resistance genes to see if the
plants would be resistant to late blight in Florida. They'll soon
be studying resistant potato varieties as well.
"The important thing is that, even though it's an old disease,
it's still very economically important'," Roberts said. "It's still a
major problem in terms of control under certain situations. The
pathogen's dynamic. It's changing. We're trying to develop all of
this information to develop new management tools and reduce
the cost of inputs, such as fungicide applications, every year."
Besides Roberts, the research team includes Glades Crop Care, Inc.; Shouan
Zhang, assistant professor in Plant Pathology at Tropical REC in Homestead;
Ken Deah of USDA Maryland; Jean Ristaino of North Carolina State
University; Bill Fry of Cornell University and David Cooke of the Scottish Crop
The research has been funded by the Tomato Committee, T-STAR, a Specialty
Crop Block Grant and Northeastern IPM. The team has applied for a USDA
Unvrst of Flrd Reeac gonato Prfssr g
MADAN OLI, PH.D.
Associate Professor of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation
MADAN 0LI seeks to understand
factors and processes that influ-
ence the dynamics, regulation, and
persistence of wildlife populations.
His research addresses both theo-
retical questions and practical solu-
tions to ecological problems using
a combination of ecological theory,
and field data.
The Florida panther is one of the
... most endangered species of mam-
mals in the US and a flagship
conservation species in Florida.
By the 1990s, the panther popula-
tion was reduced to 20-25 adults,
S with strong evidence of inbreeding
depression. To address this prob-
lem, 8 Texas puma females were
released into the Florida panther habitat. Oli and his collaborators are inves-
tigating the effects of this genetic introgression on the panther population,
and evaluating the viability of the Florida panthers.
Using the Florida black bear and the Asian elephant as model systems, Oli
is also investigating how human-caused loss and habitat fragmentation
influence the dynamics and genetic structure of wildlife populations. Oli's
findings suggest that habitat fragmentation reduces genetic variability,
gene flow, and population growth rates of the Florida black bears. Oli and
his colleagues are also investigating environmental causes and population
dynamic consequences of declines in a population of northern bobwhite
quail. Results show that hunting is the most important cause of bobwhite
mortality, and suggest that excessive hunting is likely an important cause of
bobwhite population declines.
Population dynamics are driven by demographic variables, and many studies
have sought to quantify how population growth rates respond to naturally
occurring or human-caused perturbations. Oli and his collaborators have
discovered the important role of some key demographic variables to popula-
tion growth rates, and have devised a method that allows identification of
demographic parameters that should be targeted for conservation purposes
based on minimal data.
There are some striking similarities between processes governing the
growth, dispersal, and persistence of natural populations and the initiation
and progression of cancers such as brain tumors. Oli is collaborating with
UF neuroscientist Dr. Brent Reynolds to understand the population ecol-
ogy of brain tumors. The ultimate goal of the proposed project is to develop
tolerable, non-toxic interventions that allow control of brain tumor growth
using an ecologically-based adaptive therapeutic approach.
MICHAEL DUKES, PH.D.
Associate Professor of Agricultural and Biological Engineering
.^/ MICHAEL DUKES' research
.S focuses on the development and
evaluation of the best technologies
for irrigation control for optimum
witcrop yield or high landscape qual-
ity while achieving maximum
water conservation. Dukes and his
research group have been investi-
gating irrigation control technolo-
gies that deliver irrigation water in
the right amount and at the right
time based on measurements of soil
moisture content or weather vari-
ables such as temperature, humid-
ity, rainfall, etc.
Dukes found that during normal
Florida rainfall periods, landscape
irrigation can be reduced by as
much as 72%, and up to 54% during
very dry periods when most water needs are supplied by irrigation. In addi-
tion, Dukes and his group have shown that soil-moisture-sensor-based irriga-
tion on homes in southwest Florida irrigated 65% less than their neighbors
without any adverse effect on their landscape quality. The success of these
"smart" controllers at conserving water has led to the passage of Florida
Senate Bill 494 into law in 2009, which promotes incentives for "smart" irri-
Under vegetable production, Dukes' research has shown that irrigation can
be reduced up to 50% while maintaining or increasing crop yield. In addi-
tion, he has shown that allowing the plants to control the irrigation leads to
much more efficient use of fertilizers and less fertilizer lost to the environ-
ment. This finding will become even more important in the future as envi-
ronmental regulations increase and impact agricultural practices.
Dukes' research has been supported by $6.2 million in external research
funding over the last five years. The projects led to the mentoring and edu-
cation of 14 graduate students, six of them at the Ph.D. level. In addition,
he has been serving on nine other graduate committees. This research has
also led to 39 peer-reviewed journal publications, 95 other publications, 48
invited lectures, and 148 contributed talks in the past five years. Dukes reg-
ularly speaks throughout the U.S. and internationally as a recognized expert
on the state of the art in irrigation scheduling and control.
SABINE GRUNWALD, PH.D.
Professor of Soil and Water Science
SSABINE GRUNWALD'S cur-
rent research is focused on carbon
dynamics and modeling of ter-
restrial carbon at various spatial
scales. The overall goal is to assess
the effects of land use and climate
change on soil carbon stocks, giv-
4 ing special attention to translating
site-specific carbon pools to large
landscape scales. Historic, cur-
rent, and future carbon stocks are
predicted using a combination of
soil and remote sensors field sam-
pling, geostatistical, and geospatial
Quantifying carbon sources/sinks
and ecosystem processes that
modulate the global carbon cycles
are critical to identifying imbal-
ances and counteracting global climate change. Soil organic carbon (SOC)
patterns are dynamic in space and dependent on a system of environmental
and anthropogenic drivers. Grunwald's research is focused to identify both
the critical points at which SOC predictions shift from linear to non-linear
process behavior and the soil and environmental factors and spatial distribu-
tion patterns that are causing such behavior to occur.
In Grunwald's research of the Santa Fe River Watershed (SFRW), spatially-
explicit relationships between soil carbon and labile, recalcitrant, and min-
eralizable carbon, nitrogen (N) and fractions, phosphorus (P) and fractions,
and numerous environmental landscape properties (e.g., land use, spectral
indices, topography, climate, and hydrology) were modeled to better under-
stand interactions between C, N and P biogeochemical cycles and ecosystem
processes. A remote-sensing-based land use change trajectory analysis, cou-
pled with a carbon-landscape model, assessed the impact on carbon storage
across the watershed.
Grunwald's research team assessed spatial patterns of various biophysical
soil properties including P, N, and metals in various aquatic and mixed land
use systems impacted by multiple stressors causing soil and water quality
degradation. Pedometric methods, geographic information systems (GIS),
and remote sensing were used to model spatio-temporal patterns. In addi-
tion, her team developed and validated a mechanistic model (OntoSim)
to simulate water flux and P transport using an ontology-based modeling
KEVIN FOLTA, PH.D.
Associate Professor of Horticultural Sciences
ties extend from
two broad research
interests. The first is
how light interacts
with plants to tailor
physiology to best
aa a match environmen-
tal conditions. The
second derives from
s the newly emerging
analysis of the straw-
berry (Fragaria spp.)
Folta's work specifically addresses how green light signals, thought to be
developmentally benign, steer a specific suite of plant responses that govern
acclimation to ambient conditions. The work is performed using LED light-
ing modalities that permit precise mixing of various light qualities, coupled
to powerful imaging technology. The goal is to define how these signals are
transduced and integrated to control plant responses to the environment.
A separate program studies strawberry genomics. The strawberry genome
is relatively small (on par with Arabidopsis), the plant cycles from seed to
seed rapidly, can be easily transformed and will be fully sequenced in 2010
via a consortium led in part by UF. A major goal of Folta's project is to func-
tionally characterize novel genes from strawberry and the Rosaceae fam-
ily, which includes valuable fruit, nut, ornamental, and lumber crops. The
hypothesis is that these highly cultivated plants maintain novel regulators
that support the traits of economic interest. Currently, new genes affecting
root growth, flowering time, flower structure, and leaf development have
been identified and are being further characterized.
Both major projects are supported by the NSF, with other work previously
supported by the USDA and strawberry growers' organizations. Folta has
brought in over $2 million in extracurricular funding over the past five
Folta has been recognized with a Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Distinguished Mentor of Undergraduate Research award (2007) and the
National Science Foundation early faculty CAREER award (2008). He has
supported many visiting international scientists, postdoctoral students,
and graduate students, and maintains a special emphasis on undergraduate
Unvrst of Flrd Reeac gonato Prfssr g
JULIE MAUPIN-FURLOW, PH.D.
Professor of Microbiology and Cell Science
that addresses both
of archaea, using
X her lab group is
examining how the
proteasome-ubiquitin system functions in protein quality control and the
regulation of cellular processes in archaeal cells. She is also working on the
metabolic engineering of archaea to produce useful chemicals and fuels
from renewable resources including the metabolism of biodiesel waste and
lignocellulosics, as well as the biochemistry and synthesis of industrially
relevant enzymes such as alpha-keto acid decarboxylases and multicopper
oxidases. These studies are funded through NIH and DOE research grants.
Maupin-Furlow was co-chair of the 2009 Gordon Research Conference
Archaea: Ecology, Metabolism & Molecular Biology and is a member of the
UF Florida Center for Renewable Chemicals and Fuels; Genetics Institute;
Center for Structural Biology; Mass Spectrometry Users Group; Signaling,
Apoptosis, & Cancer Program; and the Science for Life Howard Hughes
Medical Institute Team.
Maupin-Furlow is involved in research focused on microbial cells and the
structure and function of their enzymes. Grants and contracts from NIH
and DOE awarded to Maupin-Furlow over the last five years total over $3
million. Maupin-Furlow has also served as a member of review panels,
including those for NSF, DOE, NIH, NASA, and USDA NRI and has served
as panel manager for the USDA NRI, Biobased Products, and Bioenergy
Production Research Program 71.2 (2007 and 2008).
She has reviewed manuscripts for 29 research journals and now serves as
member of the editorial boards for the Journal of Bacteriology and Saline
Systems, as well as guest editor for a special issue of Archaea. She is recog-
nized for her outstanding mentorship of undergraduate and graduate stu-
dents, including Dr. Aaron Kirkland's and Dr. Matthew Humbard's receipt
of the IFAS Award of Excellence for Best Doctoral Dissertation (2007 and
2009, respectively). Maupin-Furlow has 45 peer-reviewed publications, 87
research abstracts, 41 invited lectures and 2 patents (one issued and one
pending) on microbial biochemistry and physiology. Her recent discovery of
small archaeal protein modifiers (SAMPs) of the ubiquitin/beta-grasp fold
superfamily, published in Nature, provides new insight into the origins of
ubiquitin-conjugation systems and their association with proteasomes.
K. RAMESH REDDY, PH.D.
Professor of Soil and Water Science
K. RAMESH REDDY conducts
research on biogeochemical cycling
-- of nutrients in wetlands and
aquatic systems. Reddy's areas of
is. expertise and research include bio-
geochemistry, wetlands and aquatic
systems, soil and water quality, and
. ecosystem restoration. Reddy is a
Graduate Research Professor and
Chair of the Soil and Water Science
Department at UF.
As department chair, Reddy pro-
vides leadership to faculty, staff,
and students in carrying out the
UF/IFAS mission in light of the
Land Grant philosophy, develop-
ing a set of policies, and promoting
department programs in instruc-
tion, research, extension, and ser-
vice. Reddy conducts research on coupled biogeochemical cycling of carbon,
nitrogen, phosphorus, and sulfur in natural and managed ecosystems as
related to water quality, carbon sequestration, and greenhouse gas emis-
sions. His early research as a biogeochemist focused on the fate of nutrients
in flooded rice paddies, followed by applying biogeochemical principles
to study nutrient/contaminant behavior in various ecosystems, including
freshwater and coastal wetlands and lakes, as related to water quality and
Reddy has served on numerous advisory committees at state, national,
and international levels. Reddy's select awards and honors include UF
Doctoral Dissertation Advisory/Mentoring Award (2005); Fellow, World
Innovation Foundation (2004); Environmental Quality Research Award,
American Society of Agronomy (2002); Sigma Xi Senior Faculty Research
Award (2002); Soil Science Applied Research Award, Soil Science Society
of America (2001); Fellow, American Association for the Advancement
of Science (2001); Florida Research Foundation Professor (1999-2002);
Fellow, Soil Science Society of America (1988); Fellow, American Society of
Agronomy (1988); and Gamma Sigma Delta International Award (2006).
Reddy's long-term goals are to develop biogeochemical indicators for routine
use to evaluate pollutant impacts in wetlands and aquatic systems, develop
tools to extrapolate process-level information to a wide range of spatial and
temporal scales for use in restoration and management of wetlands and
aquatic systems, integrate process level information into policy development
and regulation, and promote interdisciplinary teaching, research, and exten-
sion programs with other disciplines.
We hold our future in the energy, commitment and dreams of our youngest faculty. To honor them, UF/IFAS
presented the third annual Richard L. Jones Outstanding New Faculty Research Award at the May 20, 2010
Florida Agricultural Experiment Station Awards ceremony. This competitive research award is presented to
untenured faculty who have begun developing a distinguished record of research. The purpose of this award is
to recognize research program development and recent contributions, and to provide incentives for continued
excellence in research.
D R. RICHARD JONES served as Dean for Research from 1995 to 2004. In recognition of his outstanding ser-
vice to the Experiment Station and to UF/IFAS, the award was endowed and initiated in his name. This year's
awardees were Dr. Bielinski Santos and Dr. Matthew Cohen.
DR. BIELINSKI SANTOS is an assistant professor in the Department of Horticultural Science located at the
Gulf Coast Research and Education Center. Santos' research program ensures that Florida has a future in sus-
Dr Richard Jones tainable crop production. His research is off to an excellent start with graduate students and over $1 million
dollars in grants. Since arriving at the University of Florida, he has 33 publications to his credit in a variety of
refereed journals ranging from Crop Protection to the Journals of Agronomy and Horticultural Science.
His research areas include:
-* Commercial vegetable production
Small fruit production systems
Fertilization and water management
Some recent projects:
Determining irrigation volumes and frequencies and N fertilization
Reducing water consumption in mulched tomato and pepper fields
Application efficiency of drip-applied methyl bromide alternatives
Characterizing N fertilizer usage and leaching in tomato fields
Dr. Bielinski Santos DR. MATTHEW COH EN is an assistant professor in the School of Forest Resources and Conservation.
Cohen represents the leading edge of UF/IFAS research in ecosystems hydrology and water quality critical
j areas where UF/IFAS science makes a difference. He has garnered nearly $5 million dollars in grants, cur-
S rently mentors 9 graduate students, and has published in prestigious journals such as Forest Science, Ecological
Modelling and the Journal of Environmental Quality.
His research areas include:
Watershed science and water quality
Ecosystems ecology in springs and wetlands
High-resolution measurement technology
Some recent projects:
Monitoring and assessment plan for the greater Everglades wetlands
Seasonal controls for stream-riparian groundwater exchange in headwater catchments
Spatial nutrient loading in the Newnans Lake watershed
Determining the age of Ichetucknee Springs water
Dr Matthew Cohen
Florida Foundation Seed Producers, Inc. welcomes new
John C. Beuttenmuller
I N J U LY 2010, John Beuttenmuller was named executive direc-
tor of the UF direct-support organization and not-for-profit cor-
poration, Florida Foundation Seed Producers Inc., or FFSP.
Beuttenmuller continues his earlier work as the germplasm
manager and director for the marketing and licensing of new
UF/IFAS plant and crop varieties developed and released by the
Florida Agricultural Experiment Station. In the new role, he
oversees breeding programs for more than 40 crops and a 750-
acre seed stock farm and seed processing facility in Marianna.
FFSP seeks patents for UF/IFAS cultivars through the U.S.
Patent and Trademark Office and plant variety protection certifi-
cates through the USDA's Plant Variety Protection Office. It also
works with UF's Office of Licensing and Technology to manage
technologies protected under utility patents and incorporated in
new plant varieties.
"Our goal is to take new plant varieties from the breeding pro-
grams at UF/IFAS, and to increase stocks of those varieties so
there are commercially available quantities for Florida growers,"
While some universities are scaling down plant breeding, the
IFAS program remains on an upward track. Licensing revenues
increased to $3.78 million in 2009-2010, a $200,000 jump from
the year before. This year, FAES released 16 cultivars, and the
Office of Licensing and Technology had 32 invention disclosures
from IFAS. Since 2001, IFAS inventions and cultivars have gen-
erated more than $37 million in license revenues. In the case of
license revenues generated by FFSP, 70 percent of royalties go
back into research, fueling the IFAS breeding program's success.
Before a variety enters the marketplace, researchers rigorously
test its performance in different climates and soil types. If a cul-
tivar proves successful, it must be approved by multiple commit-
tees before it is released to FFSP. Once released, FFSP files for
intellectual property protection. If a cultivar may be of interest
to a single entity, FFSP leads an Invitation to Negotiate (ITN)
process, which ensures that all exclusive licensing decisions are
made in the best interest of the state of Florida and its people,
UF/IFAS and the developing breeding program.
Significant FFSP releases this year include six varieties of pow-
dery mildew-resistant gerbera daisy developed by Zhanao Deng
at the Gulf Coast Research and Education Center and a new,
low-chill southern highbush blueberry cultivar, Meadowlark
FL01-173, developed by plant breeder Paul Lyrene. Deng, who
also patented three caladium cultivars this year, said patent-
ing cultivars benefits researchers as well as producers and
License Agreements IFAS Technologies
'V 'V 'V 'V 'V 'V V 'V '
'V 'VI~r 'V V V V
OTL Invention Disclosure
E FFSP Cultivar Releases
i OTL Licenses
FFSP Cultivar Licensed
IFAS U.S. Patents Issued
le If", IfV, 'V'V 'V 0 0'V V V
OTL Invention Disclosure
FFSP Plant Patents/
101 IV V V'V 'V ^' V C 'V 'V
OTL IFAS Income
FFSP IFAS License Income
We Slcoee IA Resarc Faclt
NEW FACULTY IN THEIR AREA OF EXPERTISE
I incoln 7i .1 1 III
Forest Resources and Conservation
SPECIALTY: Nature resource economics
Assistant Professor of Entomology
Florida Medical Entomology Lab
SPECIALTY: Mosquito ecology, arbovirology
Agricultural and Biological Engineering
SPECIALTY: Crop modeling
School of Forest Resources and
SPECIALTY: Marine ecology and diseases
Wildlife Ecology and Conservation
SPECIALTY: Climate change ecology,
reserve design and conservation planning,
GIS and spatial modeling, tropical biodi-
versity and biogeography
Food Science and Human Nutrition
SPECIALTY: Obesity and inflammation in
human adipose tissue
Assistant Professor of Animal Sciences
North Florida Research and
SPECIALTY: Beef cattle nutrition
SPECIALTY: Weed science
NEW FACULTY CONT'D
SPECIALTY: Vegetable and agronomic
Soil and Water Science
SPECIALTY: Landscape biogeochemistry
Assistant Professor of
Gulf Coast Research and
SPECIALTY: Vegetable breeding
Assistant Professor of Food and
Mid-Florida Research and
SPECIALTY: Economics of renewable
energy, transportation economics,
regional planning, marketing, as well
as spatial econometrics and industrial
Microbiology and Cell Science
SPECIALTY: Computational biology
Forest Resources and Conservation
SPECIALTY: Integrative fisheries sciences
Assistant Professor of
Everglades Research and
SPECIALTY: Genetic improvement of let-
tuce and development of St. Augustine
Agricultural and Biological Engineering
SPECIALTY: Physiological sensors for bio-
environmental, agricultural, and biomed-
Wildlife Ecology and Conservation
SPECIALTY: Conservation and ecology
of mammals, urban ecology, wildlife
D. CALVIN ODERO
Assistant Professor of Agronomy
Everglades Research and Education
SPECIALTY: Weed Science
Assistant Professor of Plant Pathology
North Florida Research and
SPECIALTY: Vegetable and ornamental
plant production diseases
Associate Professor of Agronomy
West Florida Research and
SPECIALTY: Cropping systems
Assistant Professor of Entomology
Gulf Coast Research and Education
SPECIALTY: Integrated pest management of
vegetable and ornamental crops, biologi-
cal control, Hispanic outreach for IPM
Agricultural and Biological Engineering
Food and Resource Economics
SPECIALTY: Environmental and natural
resource economics, fisheries and aqua-
SPECIALTY: Cellular quality control mecha-
nisms and mitochondrial bioenergetics
SPECIALTY: Vegetable Production
Research Expenditures by Source of Fund
State Fiscal Year 2009-2010
(NOTE: This is not an accounting document) SOURCE OF FUNDS
Federal Formula Funds
State General Revenue
Federal Agency Funds
Zx /State Agency
3 3o% Other State
_ % Federal Stimulus
:-:0-~ *5* $674,777
Federal Agency Funds
Federal Flow Through State of Florida Agencies
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Science Foundation (NSF)
U. S. Army
U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
U. S. Department of Commerce
U. S. Department of Energy
U. S. Department of Interior
U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
All Other Federal Agencies
State Agency Funds
Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
Florida Department of Citrus (FDOC)
Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP)
Florida Department of Transportation
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
All Other State Agencies
Other State Funds
Water Management Districts
Other Sponsored Funds
University of Florida Research Foundation (UFRF)
State General Revenue
Director's Financial Report
Summary of IFAS Sponsored Research Activity
Total Sponsored Research Funding FY09-10
IFAS Sponsored Research Awards by Unit
IFAS Research Awards by Sponsors
10% O Foundations
S Local & Regional Governments
% All Other Sponsors
Agricultural and Biological Engineering $5.12M
Agricultural Education and Communication $0.58M
Animal Science $2.17M
Aquatic and Invasive Plants $1.38M
Entomology and Nematology $3.53M
Environmental Horticulture $1.38M
Family, Youth and Comm. Science $5.25M
Food and Resource Economics $0.74M
Food Science and Human Nutrition $9.18 M
Forest Resources and Conservation $9.02M
Horticultural Sciences $6.74M
Microbiology and Cell Science $5.20M
Plant Pathology $2.14M
Soil and Water Sciences $2.47M
Wildlife Ecology and Conservation $3.21M
Research and Education Centers
- Other Units
Research & Education Centers
Florida Medical Entomology
Federal Awards by Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
National Science Foundation
U. S. Department of Energy
U. S. Environmental Protection Agency
U. S. Department of Agriculture
U. S. Department of Interior
U. S. Department of Commerce
U. S. Department of Health and Human Services
U. S. Department of Defense
Other Federal Agencies
IFAS Sponsored Research Awards
- -- oo- -V 0^ 0o 0^ 0o 0^ 0^ o
UFFA S atwd Resarc and Edcaio Ntok
Agricultural and Biological Engineering
Agricultural Education and Communication
Entomology and Nematology
Family, Youth and Community Sciences
Food and Resource Economics
Food Science and Human Nutrition
Microbiology and Cell Science
Soil and Water Science
Wildlife Ecology and Conservation
School of Forest Resources and Conservation
School of Natural Resources and Environment (SNRE)
GRADUATE RESEARCH PROGRAMS
Plant Molecular and Cellular Biology
Animal Molecular and Cellular Biology
Carbon Resources Science Center
Center for Agricultural and Natural Resource Law
Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants
Center for Cooperative Agricultural Programs | FAMU
Center for Food Distribution and Retailing
Center for Nutritional Sciences
Center for Organic Agriculture
Center for Remote Sensing
Center for Renewable Chemicals and Fuels
Center for Subtropical Agroforestry
Center for Tropical Agriculture
Energy Extension Service
The Florida Climate Institute
Florida Organics Recycling Center for Excellence | FORCE
Florida Sea Grant
Interdisciplinary Center for Biotechnical Research | ICBR
International Agricultural Trade and Policy Center
Program for Resource Efficient Communities
Tropical and Subtropical Agriculture I| T-STAR
UF Juice and Beverage Center
UF Herbarium I FLAS
Wedgworth Leadership Institute for
Agriculture and Natural Resources
College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
College of Veterinary Medicine
- P I.
* 14 '16 L
OFF-CAMPUS RESEARCH AND EDUCATION CENTERS
1 Citrus REC I LAKE ALFRED
2 Everglacldes REC I BELLE GLADE
3 Floiicla Medical Entomology Lab I VERO BEACH
1 Fort Laudedi ale REC I FORT LAUDERDALE
5 Gulf Coast REC I WIMAUMA, PLANT CITY
6 Indian Rivei REC | FORT PIERCE
7 Mid-Floiicla REC | APOPKA
8 North Floiicla REC | LIVEOAK, MARIANNA, QUINCY
9 Range Cattle REC | ONA
10 Southwest Floiicia REC I IMMOKALEE
11 Topical REC I HOMESTEAD
12 West Floiicla REC I JAY, MILTON
JOINT RESEARCH CENTERS WITH ARS
13 Subtropical Agricultural Research Station iUSDA ARSi I BROOKSVILLE
RESEARCH AND DEMONSTRATION SITES
14 Austin Cary Memorial Forest
15 Florida Partnership for Water, Agricultural and Community Sustainability I HASTINGS
16 Ordway-Swisher Biological Station (OSBS)
17 Plant Science Research and Education Unit | CITRA
18 Tropical Aquaculture Laboratory |I RUSKIN
'18 5' 5
I 10 i
f UNIVERSITY of
This annual research report is published by Dr. Mark R. McLellan, Dean for Research, in order to further programs and related activities, available to all
persons without discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political
opinions or affiliations, genetic information and veteran status as protected under the Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act. Information about
alternate formats is available from IFAS Information and Communication Services, University of Florida, PO Box 110810, Gainesville, FL 32611-0810.
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INSTITUTE OF FOOD AND AGRICULTURAL SCIENCES I UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA