Gmitter Earns High Honor

Ernie NeffAwards

Fred Gmitter

Fred. G. Gmitter Jr. has been named a 2021 Fellow by the American Society for Horticultural Science (ASHS). Gmitter is a professor of horticulture and a citrus breeder at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) Citrus Research and Education Center (CREC) in Lake Alfred.

Being recognized as a Fellow is the ASHS’ highest honor. Fellows must demonstrate a career of sustained excellence, including significant contributions to advancing the science of horticulture and service to the profession.

“Dr. Gmitter is a worthy recipient of this honor and exceptional representative of the academic horticultural community,” said Michael Rogers, director of the CREC. “He has a career of committed service to the Florida citrus community and dedication to moving citrus science forward.”

Over his career as a professor with UF/IFAS, which began in 1985, Gmitter has led teams that have developed more than 35 new citrus varieties. They include LB8-9, Sugar Belle, Bingo, Marathon and new sweet orange varieties EV1 and EV2, in the efforts to breed HLB-tolerant citrus. He developed a grapefruit hybrid, UF 914, with extremely low levels of furanocoumarin compounds — those chemicals responsible for the grapefruit-medication interactions — along with sweeter taste and flavor. In addition, he has partnered in the releases in the HLB-tolerant rootstock UFR series.

Gmitter was among the first to embrace genomics to improve citrus breeding outcomes. His lab mapped several genes for resistance to viruses, fungi and nematodes. As leader of the international Citrus Genome Consortium, he coordinated the production of the first citrus genome sequence assemblies in 2011. 

Other UF/IFAS citrus faculty previously recognized as ASHS Fellows are Jude Grosser, Jacqueline Burns and the late L. Gene Albrigo.

A feature story about Gmitter’s life and career appeared Citrus Industry in 2017.

Source: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences

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