Plant Breeding & Biotechnology
Florida is among the largest producer of ornamental plants in the nation. Ornamental plant breeding has been a major programmatic area in the Environmental Horticulture Department. The present program focuses on genetic improvement of several major tropical foliage plants, caladium, coleus, gerbera, and foliage plants for landscape use. Over the past 10 years, the breeding team has released 85 varieties. Many varieties have been licensed for large-scale commercial production and generated over $532,000 in royalty returns to support breeding and research activities during this period. The strengths of the program include the wide diversity of crops being improved and a critical mass of faculty members with experience in an array of genetic improvement approaches. The laboratory and production facilities on main campus in Gainesville and two research and education centers allows us to screen new varieties for superior performance in a range of production and landscape environments. In response to industry needs, the breeding program will focus on improving numerous horticultural traits in plants that are critical for Florida growers and consumers.