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Reduced labor, production efficiency, improved pest management practices and improved postharvest quality and efficiency lead to increased profits for growers.  These challenges face the floral industry every day.  The American Floral Endowment has supported ‘industry-driven and industry-focused research for nearly 60 years thanks to the support of the industry.

Today, AFE focuses on the needs of the floral industry now and in the future by supporting the projects listed below.  These projects address several key needs of the industry from thrips and Botrytis control to developing the next generation of anti-ethylene control to development of plants with resistance to powdery mildew and downy mildew.  Results from the on-going projects are shared with industry in trade magazine publications, electronic newsletters, presentations at industry programs and here on the AFE website.

We welcome industry suggestions about critical needs and solutions to nagging problems.  AFE can help you.  Have suggestions or need information on specific problems, contact our research coordinator, Dr. Terril A. Nell (tnell@afeendowment.org).  And, please remember that AFE has an active internship program and scholarship program to develop the next generation of floriculture professionals.  If you are interested in hosting an intern, please contact Candice Musgrove (cmusgrove@afeendowment.org).

 

PLANT BREEDING AND GENETIC ENGINEERING

  • Use of CRISPR to Develop Powdery Mildew Resistance in Gerbera Daisy: Dayton Wilde, Wayne Parrott, and Heather Gladfelter, University of Georgia
    • Objective: CRISPR-mediated knockout of Gerbera daisy MLO for powdery mildew resistance
  • Engineering Floral Fragrance to New Heights using a Synthetic Biology Approach: Thomas Colquhoun, University of Florida
    • Objective:  Use differential transcriptomics and metabolomics to identify regulatory players involved in the enormous expression of a gene (THI4), which is responsible for the production of a special floral volatile from Caladium; 2, Clone, analyze, and functionally test the Caladium THI4 promoter sequence; 3, Produce transgenic plants overexpressing the regulatory features found for THI4 expression.

DISEASE MANAGEMENT

  • Finding Solutions to Pre-Harvest Botrytis Infection and Thrips Infestation of Cut Roses: Drs. James Faust/JC Chong, Clemson University
    • Objective: Develop and understand the relationships between the greenhouse environment, such as temperature, humidity, leaf wetness and cultural practices on Botrytis and thrips infestation spore populations in cut roses.
  • Silence Mid-Gut Genes in Bemisia Tabaci to Biologically Control Whiteflies: DrHeqiang (Alfred) Huo, University of Florida.
    • Objective: Test the effect of loss-of-function in DCL4 on the efficacy of dsRNAs against mid-guts genes in controlling whitefly, through petiole absorption or stably expressed in the dcl4-deficient tobacco mutants for whitefly resistance evaluation.  Move to Insect Management
  • Optimizing the Efficacy of Beneficial Bacteria against Botrytis Blight in Greenhouse Crops: Michelle Jones, The Ohio State University
    • Objective: To determine the best method of applying the bacteria to maximize Botrytis control.
  • Tulipalins: A Natural Fungicide for Cut Flowers from a Tulip Bulb Waste Stream: Thomas Gianfagna, Rutgers – The State University of New Jersey
    • Objective:  Botrytis cinerea control in cut roses and gerbera daisies during shipping and in a retail setting

INSECT MANAGEMENT

  • Manipulating Nutrient Inputs to Reduce Thrips in Flower Crops: Dr. Rose Buitenhuis, Vineland Research and Innovation Centre
    • Objective: Determine if reduced nutrient regimes and biostimulant treatments reduce thrips population growth without negatively affecting plant quality, and test if treatments will improve relative efficacy of biocontrol strategies against thrips in a complete IPM strategy.
  • Evaluation of Alternative (non-fungicide) Treatments Including Biological Control Agents and Systemic Acquired Resistance-Inducing Compounds for Botrytis Control: Jim Faust, Guido Schnabel, and Melissa Munoz, Clemson University
    • Objective: To identify biological alternatives to fungicides that are effective for Botrytis cinerea management in floriculture crops  Move to Disease Management
  • Can Western Flower Thrips be Managed in Commercial Greenhouses with UV Light: Bruce Parker, University of Vermont
    • Objective:  To investigate the use of UV-C light as a significant component of an IPM strategy to manage western flower thrips in commercial greenhouses.

POST-PRODUCTION

  • Evaluating Potential of Chitosan to Promote Botrytis Resistance and Plant Performance: Dr. Ryan Dickson, University of Arkansas
    • Objective: Evaluation of the potential for CHT sprays to control botrytis and influence plant performance during post-production of floriculture crops.
  • Inhibitors of Ethylene Action for Improving Flower Longevity: Dr. Rasika Dias, University of Texas at Arlington
    • Objective: Improve our fundamental understanding of ethylene chemistry in plants, offer new and better ethylene antagonists for wider use, and provide ways of managing the post-harvest quality of flowers and shelf life.
  • Developing Protocols to Prevent Leaf Necrosis on Cut Flowers in the Post-Harvest Environment: James E. Faust and Guido Schnabel
    • Objective: To identify methodologies for growing and treating cut flowers to reduce leaf necrosis in the post-harvest environment
  • Using Sub-zero Temperatures for Long-Term Storage of Cut Flowers: John Dole, North Carolina State University
    • Objective:  Identify species adapted to storage using sub-zero temperatures; 2) Refine post-harvest handling procedures for 2 species for long-term storage at sub-zero

PRODUCTION TECHNOLOGY/PROTOCOLS

  • Advancing Nighttime Lighting to Control Flowering of Photoperiodic Floriculture Crops: Qingwu Meng, University of Delaware
    • Objective: Achieve effective floral promotion and growth control of long-day ornamentals by optimizing the timing and duration of low-cost white LED lamps
  • Fluorescence Imaging: A Low-cost Method for Early Stress Detection: Marc Van Iersel, University of Georgia
    • Objective:  Develop and test a novel approach for detection plant stress before visible symptoms are present

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