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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 over 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 ongoing projects are shared with industry in trade magazine publications, electronic newsletters, presentations at industry programs, and here on the AFE website. Additionally, research findings are presented monthly through AFE’s Grow Pro Webinar Series. These webinars are free to attend thanks to industry sponsorships and include time for direct Q&A with the researchers.

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 team at  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 (



  • Use of CRISPR to Develop Powdery Mildew Resistance in Gerbera: Dayton Wilde, University of Georgia
      • Objective: 1. Gene editing of the gerbera MLO gene to confer powdery mildew resistance. 2. Develop a somatic embryogenesis system for gerbera. 3. Investigate non-transgenic means to introduce CRISPR constructs.
  • 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.


  • Enhancing the Performance of Biological Control Agents for Botrytis Control: Jim Faust, Clemson University and Anissa Poleatewich, University of New Hampshire
    • Objective: Prospective biological control agents for Botrytis blight often perform well in the lab but fail in the greenhouse. Our objective is to enhance the performance of these organisms by understanding the reason(s) that they fail and then provide the conditions that will help them survive and succeed as disease management tools in the greenhouse environment
  • Asteraceae Petal Blight: Pathogen Identification and Methods to Facilitate Effective Control Strategies: Julia Kerrigan, Clemson University
    • Objective: Identify causal organisms from flowers received from different commercial locations and seasons. Develop methodology to distinguish these organisms. Screen fungicides for efficacy and resistance.
  • Supporting the U.S. Specialty Cut Flower Industry through Diagnostics, Disease Management and Outreach (GP): Francesca Hand, The Ohio State University
    • Objective: Evaluate the use of anaerobic soil disinfestation for management of pathogens affecting specialty cut flowers and develop outreach material to educate growers on plant diseases affecting cut flowers.
  • 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.


  • 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.


  • Development of Potent Ethylene Antagonists for Floricultural Crops: Rasika Dias, The University of Texas at Arlington
    • Objective: Development of potent anti-ethylene products for commercial use by selective targeting of ethylene binding sites, blocking ethylene bio-synthetic pathways, and creating stabilized silver formations.


  • Identification and Application of Plant Growth Promoting Bacteria to Improve Floriculture Crop Plant Quality and Reduce Inputs: Michelle Jones, The Ohio State University
    • Objective: The goal of this proposal is to screen the OSU greenhouse rhizospheric bacteria collection to identify bacteria that can promote growth with lower fertilizer inputs and to characterize and optimize the growth-promoting effects of these bacteria in containerized soilless greenhouse production systems.
  • Developing Foliage Stock Plant, Liner, and Finish Plant Production Protocols for Temperate Climates: Roberto Lopez, Michigan State University
    • Objective: To quantify how DLI, air and root-zone temperature, and PGRs interact to affect cutting yield and rooting, produce high-quality liners, and model how temperature influences leaf unfolding rates
  • Manipulating Light Quantity, Quality, and Duration to Improve Timing, Yield, and Quality of Cut Flowers: Roberto Lopez and Caleb Spall, Michigan State University
    • Objective: To determine the juvenile stage in which flower induction occurs and quantify flowering responses and stem quality to light quantity, quality, and duration.
  • Altering Petunia Development Rate to Improve Cutting Yield and Crop Production Efficiency: Ryan Warner, Michigan State University
    • Objective: Determine how altered petunia MEI2-like expression impacts plant development.


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