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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

  • Developing Seed-Propagated Downy Mildew Resistant Impatiens: Dr. Mark Bridgen, Cornell University
    • Objective: To assess the success of the breeding process for the development of new flower colors and plant forms as well as the resistance of seed-propagated plants to Impatiens Downy Mildew.
  • 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

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: Dr. Heqiang (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.

INSECT MANAGEMENT

  • Distinction of Arthropod-induced Stressors of Chrysanthemum Using Hyperspectral Imaging Technologies:  Dr. Christian Nansen, University of California, Davis
    • Objective: Provide novel and innovative insight into the practical potential of robotics and machine vision as part of improving and automating crop monitoring inside greenhouses.
  • Integrated Management of Thrips Using New Generation Bioinsecticides and Commercially-Reared Natural Enemies: Dr. Kevin M. Heinz, Texas A&M AgriLife Research
    • Objective: Screen and evaluate new biochemical pesticides, and conduct grower demonstration trials using best programs.
  • 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.
  • Ultraviolet Light for Integrated Pest Management of Western Flower Thrips:  Dr. Bruce Parker, University of Vermont
    • Objective:  Determine the effect of Ultraviolet Light on the WFT on roses and mums.
  • 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

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

PRODUCTION TECHNOLOGY/PROTOCOLS

  • Adaptive Supplemental Lighting to Reduce Energy Costs in Greenhouses: Dr. Marc van Iersel, University of Georgia
    • Objective: Quantify the relationship between the rate of the light reactions and compare different supplemental lighting strategies.
  • Development of Sole-Source Lighting Guidelines for the Production of Floriculture Transplants: Dr. Erik Runkle, Michigan State University
    • Objective: This project will provide an understanding of how sole source LED lighting from red, blue, far-red and ultra-violet lighting will affect growth and development on a broad range of floriculture crops (including bedding plants, herbaceous perennials and cut flower transplants).

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