Career of Excellence: UF Professor Honored

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Fred Gmitter Jr.

LAKE ALFRED, Fla. — Fred G. Gmitter, Jr., a professor of horticulture and citrus breeder at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Citrus Research and Education Center, is a 2021 Fellow by the American Society for Horticultural Science.

More than 500 members have been recognized with this honor since the first Fellows were elected in 1965. Gmitter joins other University of Florida/IFAS citrus faculty like Jude Grosser, Jacqueline Burns and the late L. Gene Albrigo, in being recognized by his academic peers.

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

Fellows must demonstrate a career of sustained excellence including significant contributions to advancing the science of horticulture and service to the profession.

Gmitter has led teams during his career that have developed more than 35 new citrus varieties including the ‘LB8-9,’ Sugar Belle®,  ‘Bingo,’ ‘Marathon’ and new sweet orange varieties  ‘EV1’ and  ‘EV2,’ in the latest efforts to breed HLB-tolerant citrus that can provide sustainable trees in the era of citrus greening.

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, to develop reliable markers for selection. As leader of the international Citrus Genome Consortium, he coordinated the production of the first citrus genome sequence assemblies in 2011.