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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 (  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 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.


  • Co-application of Biopesticides and Chitosan for Optimized Suppression of Botrytis Infection in Greenhouse Floriculture: Anissa Poleatewich, University of New Hampshire
    • Objective: 1) Evaluate the effect of chitosan on biocontrol agent growth; 2) Evaluate the effect of chitosan-biopesticide combination on Botrytis suppression in vitro; 3) Evaluate chitosan-biopesticide co-application to suppress disease under production
  • 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
  • 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.
  • Supporting the U.S. Specialty Cut Flower Industry Through Diagnostics, Disease Management and Outreach (GP): Francesca Hand, The Ohio State University


  • 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.


  • 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


  • 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
  • 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
  • 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, and produce high-quality liners and model how temperature influences leaf unfolding rates
  • 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
  • Manipulating Light Quantity, Quality, and Duration to Improve Timing, Yield, and Quality of Cut Flowers: Roberto Lopez & 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.
  • Use of Microbial Biostimulants and Beneficial Bacteria: Michelle Jones, The Ohio State University
    • Objective: To evaluate the use of commercial microbial biostimulants and OSU-identified beneficial bacteria to improve the quality and vase life of cut flowers grown in the U.S.

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