IRREC’s First-Ever Root Biology Course

In response to recent advancements in plant root science, a University of Florida scientist will offer one of the school’s first graduate-level courses on the topic, online, for fall semester, 2018.

Lorenzo Rossi, assistant professor of plant root biology at UF’s statewide Institute of Food and Agricultural Science’s Indian River Research and Education Center (IRREC) near Fort Pierce will instruct, Root and Rhizosphere Ecology.

“The course will emphasize newly published work for the latest findings in root science,” said Rossi.

“Roots are affected by the environment around them such as soils and microorganisms; roots react to water quality and quantity, and to chemicals in soils, including crude oil.”

The environment around a root system is called the rhizosphere. Course topics integrate how roots and their rhizospheres react to diverse environments and reactions to plant roots and substances present in soils. The course will dig deep into specific substances: microbes, mycorrhizae, micro-fauna, soil heterogeneity, biogeochemical cycles, abiotic and biotic stresses and a wide range of contaminants.

Rossi said class participants will gain skills to evaluate root reactions to changes in the environment and to classify and recognize root products, or chemicals roots release into the rhizosphere. Root products influence soil properties, bacterial populations, nutrient availability and interactions with other plants.
Students who complete the course will become confident in their ability to recommend cutting-edge research techniques for both field and laboratory studies, said Rossi.

“My goal is for the students to understand current root science topics and for them to link their knowledge with the challenges root and rhizosphere sciences must meet in the future,” said Rossi. “Root and rhizosphere ecology presents both questions and answers for the advancement of worldwide agricultural production and protection of natural resources.”

Root and Rhizosphere Ecology will be offered fall semester, 2018, and will begin Aug. 21. The UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (UF/CALS) ranks fourth in the U.S. and 11th in the world for agricultural science research, according to a U.S. News and World Report ranking.

Prospective students may enroll in the course online at The course is listed on the UF/CALS website at:

Those seeking more information about Root and Rhizosphere Ecology may contact Lorenzo Rossi by phone, 772-577-7341 or by email,


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Posted: May 9, 2018

Category: Agribusiness, Agriculture, Crops, Horticulture, Pests & Disease, UF/IFAS, UF/IFAS Research

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