UF researcher finds hormone that sheds fat

By Dylan Dixon

A UF researcher announced new findings in August that suggest exercising releases a hormone that not only sheds fat, but also prevents it from forming.

Dr. Li-Jun Yang, a professor of hematopathology in the UF College of Medicine’s Department of Pathology, Immunology and Laboratory Medicine, published a three-yearlong study on the hormone Irisin and how it reacts with fatty tissue and cells. Yang and her team of researchers collected fat cells donated by 28 patients who underwent breast reduction surgery.

They then exposed the cells to Irisin, finding that the hormone increased the production of the protein UCP1, which helps shed fat. The hormone also reduced the number of mature fat cells in the tissue by 20 to 60 percent.

“This is very exciting in the field of obesity and Type 2 diabetes,” Yang said.

It’s possible the hormone’s beneficial properties could be used to create a prescription medication to help with weight problems, but it could take years.

“You can just exercise,” Yang said. “Your body will release your own Irisin.”

IFAS strawberry variety sweeter, more durable

By Rosanne Ramraj

IFAS strawberry variety sweeter, more durable

A two-year study on UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences’ strawberries has found they have a longer shelf life and are sweeter than two other IFAS varieties.

Vance Whitaker is a UF associate professor of horticultural sciences and a strawberry breeder at the UF/IFAS Gulf Coast Research and Education Center in Balm, Florida. He said the IFAS-bred strawberries have 20 percent more sugar and a longer shelf life than the other two strawberry varieties grown side-by-side in Plant City during the 2015 and 2016 growing seasons.

The two qualities make the strawberries more attractive for consumers, he said of the study published earlier this month. During the study, researchers compared one type of IFAS-bred strawberry to the other two types: Florida Radiance and Strawberry Festival.

Whitaker said scientists measured the attributes of the strawberries before and after they were placed in cold conditions. The newest strawberry, called Florida127, maintained a brighter color in the cold storage and was sweeter.

“We do not know what biological factors contribute to the differences, but we breed for the traits,” he said.


IFAS warns of screwworm dangers in Florida

By Bailey LeFever

An outbreak of the New World screwworm fly, or Cochliomyia hominivorax, could affect thousands of Florida agricultural producers, livestock producers and pet owners, according to UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

The fly has only been found in Big Pine Key and No Name Key, said Phillip Kaufman, a UF associate professor of Veterinary Entomology.

Kaufman said he thinks the insect most likely came through a person or animal from an infested country. The flies enter a wound on a living animal, fall out later and spread to different hosts. He said the pest was in the U.S. until it was eradicated in the 1950s.

IFAS has been sending out information on the fly to Florida livestock owners, pet owners and the public.

The easiest way to prevent its spread is by checking for pests on animals, he said. A veterinarian can easily remove the maggot.

“If you notice a wound that isn’t healing, go in and see your veterinarian,” he said. “Don’t wait. It’s better to get this taken care of as early as possible.”

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