Horticultural Sciences

Horticultural Science research at TREC focuses on plant molecular biology, breeding and genomics, ecophysiology and cultural management with the main focus on fruit and vegetable crops grown in the subtropics and tropics. There are five faculty members at TREC who are members of the University of Florida, Horticultural Sciences Department

Dr. Elias Bassil
Assistant Professor

Molecular Plant Stress Physiology

This research 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.

Dr. Alan Chambers
Assistant Professor

Genetics and Breeding of Tropical Fruit Crops

The Chambers lab works with growers and industry stakeholders to trial elite and novel tropical fruits for southern Florida and other tropical/subtropical climates. These global partnerships increase value to growers and quality to consumers. The Chambers lab develops and uses modern molecular, biochemical, and genomic information to rapidly develop and deploy superior cultivars for select species.

Dr. Jonathan H. Crane
Associate Center Director & Professor

Tropical Fruit Crops Management

This program’s main areas of research include pruning practices (e.g., carambola, Annona spp., mamey sapote), cultivar evaluation of lime and lime-like hybrids, improving cultural control of laurel wilt in avocado production systems, improving Annona pollination systems and fruit set, rootstock evaluation of avocado, and cultivar improvement of papaya. The extension program’s focus is laurel wilt-ambrosia beetle control tactics and mitigation practices, Annona pollination improvement, lime and lime-like crop production under citrus greening conditions, dealing with invasive pests, and new papaya cultivars.

Dr. Geoffrey Meru
Assistant Professor

Vegetable Breeding - Genetics and Genomics

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.

Dr. Bruce Schaffer
bas56@ufl.edu | Lab website

Ecophysiology of Subtropical and Tropical Horticultural Crops 

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, in 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.