Horticultural Sciences

Bruce Schaffer and Jonathan Crane are both Professors of Horticultural Sciences.  Alan Chambers, Geoffrey Meru, and Elias Bassil are Assistant Professors of Horticultural Sciences.  They are all members of the University of Florida, Department of Horticultural Sciences in Gainesville, Florida.  Dr. Schaffer's research focus is ecophysiology of subtropical and tropical plants.  Dr. Crane's program focuses on management of subtropical and tropical fruit crops.  Dr. Chambers’ specialty is genetics and breeding of subtropical and tropical fruit crops and temperate crops for subtropical and tropical climates.  The focus of Dr. Meru’s program is genetics and breeding of vegetable crops for subtropical and tropical climates.  Dr. Bassil is a molecular plant stress physiologist.

Ecophysiology of Subtropical and Tropical Horticultural Crops (Dr. Bruce Schaffer)

This research program is aimed at investigating the effects of environmental and biotic factors on plant physiology; specifically leaf gas exchange, plant water relations, and photosynthate partitioning, of tropical and subtropical horticultural crops. Studies are aimed at defining effects of environmental variables on plant growth and productivity to provide a basis for improving agricultural production and sustainability and for enhancing compatibility between agricultural and natural ecosystems.

Tropical Fruit Crops Management (Dr. Jonathan Crane)

This program's main areas of research include tree training (carambola, Annona spp., mamey sapote), tree size control (avocado, lime, mango, carambola, lychee, longan, Annona spp., mamey sapote), fertilizer practices and plant nutrition (carambola, lychee, avocado, lime), crop manipulation for off-season production (carambola, guava, Annona spp.), rootstock evaluation (Annona spp. Citrus spp.), improving fruit size (longan), and cultivar evaluation of carambola, guava, papaya, and lychee.

Genetics and Breeding of Tropical Fruit Crops (Dr. Alan Chambers)

This program focuses on identifying economically viable crops for southern Florida and creating novel cultivars by gaining deep genomic/genetic insights and developing advanced molecular methods.  The primary objective of the program is to increase value to growers and enhance the consumer experience with tropical and subtropical fruit crops.

Vegetable Breeding - Genetics and Genomics (Dr. Geoffrey Meru)

The goal of this program is the development of high yielding subtropical and tropical vegetable varieties with acceptable resistance/tolerance to abiotic and biotic stresses using contemporary and traditional technologies.  The extension component of the program is aimed at transferring to growers the information gained about genetic resistance/tolerance to stresses and how horticultural traits of tropical and temperate vegetable crops can be improved through genetics and breeding.

Molecular Plant Stress Physiology (Dr. Elias Bassil)

This program is focused on ion transport and utilized methods in functional genomics, quantitative cell biology, and biochemistry. In the Bassil Lab,  an integrative plant biological approach is combined with functional genomics, quantitative cell biology, and physiology, to investigate cellular growth processes, plant-environment interactions, abiotic stress signaling and acclimation, cellular nutrient homeostasis, and the role of roots in stress acclimation.