Citizen Scientists are helping air potato beetle take a bite out of a major weed pest

A citizen science program in Florida is keeping track of how successfully the air potato beetle is keeping air potato in check.

Native to Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, air potato is a member of the yam family. The plant was first identified in the U.S. back in 1777 and spread throughout the Gulf Coast region of the U.S. It is now a problem weed in Florida, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Texas, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. In both Alabama and Florida, it is listed as a noxious weed. Continue reading

Assistant Professor of Palm Mycology at University of Florida

This is a 12-month tenure-accruing position that will be 70% research (Florida Agricultural Experiment Station) and 30% extension (Florida Cooperative Extension Service), available in the Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center (FLREC), Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS), at the University of Florida.  This assignment may change in accordance with the needs of the unit.  Duties will include development of a productive, interdisciplinary, extramurally funded research program with an emphasis on palm diseases caused by fungi. The candidate will need to maintain a global perspective to be ready for the movement and establishment of fungal diseases, including, but not limited to, diseases caused by Fusarium, Ganoderma and members of the Botryosphaereaceae. This may include etiology of emergent diseases, genetic diversity/population genetics of pathogens, epidemiology of diseases, management of diseases, host-pathogen interactions, and microbiome studies (rhizosphere, endophytes, biocontrol). Extension responsibilities will include maintaining and updating education programs for Extension agents, stakeholders and the public on the identification and management of palm diseases, continuation of the FLREC palm school and maintenance of online tools for identifying palm diseases. The incumbent will provide proactive leadership, training, and assistance to county faculty. Tenure will accrue in the Department of Plant Pathology.  The faculty member will participate actively in undergraduate education and graduate education by chairing graduate committees, serving on graduate committees, supervising thesis and dissertation research, supervising undergraduate research, and publishing the results with his/her graduate students.  The faculty member will seek contract and grant funding actively to support his/her program.  The faculty member will engage in Extension activities in his or her program area.   Continue reading

PhD student or a Postdoc position: Invasive wood borers

Join the Forest Entomology team (http://www.ambrosiasymbiosis.org/) at the University of Florida on our quest to discover which of the thousands of wood borer species in exotic jungles have the potential to be the next big invader into American forests. We are looking for passion in areas ranging from molecular ecology to integrative taxonomy to biosecurity regulation, someone who can master the flow of material from a foreign jungle to a DNA sequencer, someone who will love analyzing their data, writing their manuscripts, and strategically posting on social media. Continue reading

Winners of Friends of Southern IPM Award Announced

Winners from four Southern states will be recognized this year as Friends of Southern Integrated Pest Management. For the first time this year, we will award two Ph.D. students.

Lindsy Iglesias and Zachary DeVries tied for the Ph.D. student award. Iglesias, in her final semester at the University of Florida, has been studying the distribution of spotted wing drosophila in the field and testing various tools to help organic growers manage the pest. Her research on distribution led to the discovery that SWD populated mostly around the edges of the field. Subsequent trials have indicated that border sprays in the beginning of the season can reduce SWD populations. Continue reading

USDA awards five grants to combat citrus greening

In Southwest Farm Press

USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) has awarded five grants to combat citrus greening disease. The funding is made through the emergency Citrus Disease Research and Extension Program (CDRE). CDRE was authorized as part of the 2014 Farm Bill.

“The need to advance research and extension to develop management strategies for huanglongbing (citrus greening disease) has reached a critical juncture,” said NIFA Director Sonny Ramaswamy. “Severe damage to the Florida citrus crop from 2017 hurricanes further exacerbates the pressure on the industry and the need for new strategies to address the disease.” Continue reading

Free invasive plants tool kit for teachers

by Beverly James, University of Florida IFAS

Science and agriculture teachers across the nation now have a new tool to teach students about invasive plants, thanks to researchers with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

The Florida Invasive Plant Education Initiative at the UF/IFAS Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants (CAIP) has partnered with The Aquatic Plant Management Society (APMS) to produce a 16- minute video presentation, “Silent Invaders,” for teachers to introduce students to the concepts of invasive aquatic plants and their management with examples from across the United States. “Silent Invaders” provides a basic introduction to invasive plants, along with the key concepts of aquatic versus terrestrial and also native, non-native and invasive plant species, said Dehlia Albrecht, UF’s Florida Invasive Plant Education Initiative coordinator. Continue reading

Florida research helps vegetable farmers manage weeds

in Southeast Farm Press

by Brad Buck

By using a combination of fumigants, University of Florida scientists believe they can surgically strike out some weeds that otherwise get in the way of vegetable growth.

Researchers with the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences have shown that farmers can place fumigants in specific zones, rather than using a single treatment for every situation. For example, fumigants applied to a specific area where weed seeds germinate can reduce the number of weeds that grow. Researchers say this will help growers as they try to manage pests in areas where they cause the most trouble. Continue reading