Dr. Vance Whitaker
Professor of Horticulture
Dr. Whitaker develops strawberry varieties for Florida. His breeding program is enhanced through genetic research and through collaborations with the GCREC faculty team and Florida industry. Dr. Whitaker works closely with Florida Foundation Seed Producers, the Florida Strawberry Growers Association and Ekland Marketing Company to license and market UF/IFAS varieties in Florida and around the world.
Dr. Whitaker conducts an applied research program in breeding and genetics, using both field and lab techniques.
This research program is primarily aimed at the genetic characterization of important traits in strawberries and informing methods and strategies for developing newer and better cultivars.
Few traits in cultivated strawberry are controlled by single genes, due to the complex genetics of this species.
Therefore, the approaches of quantitative genetics are important for determining the types of genetic variance that contribute to economically important traits and how selecting one trait influences another trait. However, for some traits that are controlled by one or few genes, breeding is being enhanced through DNA marker technology.
It is important to note that DNA-informed breeding in this sense is distinct from the use of transgenic technologies. All UF/IFAS cultivars are bred through traditional means and are not transgenic.
The University of Florida strawberry breeding program originated with the work of Albert Brooks in 1948. Since then, 15 strawberry cultivars have been released.
In 2017, more than 10,500 acres of strawberries were planted in Florida—approximately 85% of which were planted in UF/IFAS varieties.
The strawberry industry benefits when new cultivars are managed to their full potential. Information is available on attributes of new cultivars and their tailored management programs.
Lab Phone Number 813-419-6615 Staff Member Elissar Alam, Grad Student Angel Arredondo, Lab Tech III email@example.com Cheryl Dalid, Bio Scientist II firstname.lastname@example.org Zhen Fan, PostDoc email@example.com Geovanny Garcia, Ag Assistant II Guadalupe Garcia, OPS Tech Yesica Lopez Morales, OPS Tech Mayra Marroquin Sanchez, OPS Tech Lucero Martinez Ibanez, OPS Tech Catalina Moyer, Bio Scientist II firstname.lastname@example.org Pilar Munoz Del Rio, Research Scholar Luis Osorio, Bio Scientist IV email@example.com Nosham Park, OPS Tech Manuela Rodriguez, Ag Assistant I firstname.lastname@example.org Justin Su, OPS Tech email@example.com Joanna Trejo, OPS Tech firstname.lastname@example.org Iris Alma Veronica, OPS Tech
- Strawberry Cultivars
Gulf Coast Research and Education Center
14625 County Road 672
Wimauma, FL 33598
- Ph.D. Plant Breeding and Molecular Genetics, University of Minnesota, 2009
- M.S. Plant Breeding, University of Minnesota, 2006
- B.S. Horticultural Science, North Carolina State University, 2003
- B.S. Agricultural Business Management, North Carolina State University, 2003