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Indian River Research and Education Center

Indian River Research and Education Center

Plant Root Biology

Dr. Lorenzo Rossi:
Horticultural Science Root Biologist

Lorenzo Rossi joined IRREC in January, 2018. He is the center’s Plant Root Biologist. Dr. Rossi's appointment demonstrates the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Science’s commitment to leading the citrus industry in its management of citrus greening while scientists continue their search for a cure for this devastating disease.

Dr. Rossi is known for his successful research experiments with fruit crop trees in Florida, Italy, North Carolina, and in Texas, where he evaluated genetic and environmental stresses on roots. Root stress experiments included topics such as drought, salinity, heavy metals, emerging pollutants, and climate change. His work with Florida citrus trees focuses on the tree roots, which are the first part of the tree to show symptoms of huanglongbing, or citrus greening infection. His research program involves field and laboratory experiments using instruments that measure roots and photograph root growth daily.

Dr. Rossi uses the most recently developed tools to study root physiology and biology. With root system images captured both in the field and in the laboratory, he is creating both two and three dimensional computer images to study finite spaces inside root architectures. The images assist Dr. Rossi in his work to understand root stocks and needed modifications for the development of disease-resistant trees and long-term solutions.

Prior to Dr. Rossi’s appointment at UF/IRREC, he completed three post doctorate positions: Missouri University of Science and Technology, Texas A&M University, and North Carolina State University. He graduated Italy’s most prestigious scientific university, Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, at the Biolabs, within its Institute of Life Sciences, in Pisa, Italy.

Dr. Rossi is accepting visiting scholars, scientists and graduate students to his laboratory. Please email him at:

  • Research

    The central objective for Dr. Rossi's work is the development of “Shovelomics for citrus,” or high throughput phenotyping for different citrus rootstocks. The premise of Shovelomics is to evaluate the root crown of crops to estimate growth, development and architecture of principal roots.

    Dr. Rossi’s Shovelomics for citrus program is the first of its kind. Several research universities have developed similar Shovelomics programs for field crops, however, Rossi’s program is the premier program for fruit crop trees, and in particular, for citrus.

    A major thrust for “Shovelomics for citrus” involves understanding subterranean biotic and abiotic issues affecting root health as it relates to crop growth and yields. These studies will help to understand optimal nutritional formulas for citrus root stocks, particularly with grapefruit. 

    Dr. Rossi’s field experiments include the employment of recently developed technology. Specifically, root cameras are capable of measuring and capturing images of root growth deep inside a root’s living architecture. With the images, Dr. Rossi is able to create two dimensional computer-generated studies to identify deficiencies and developments inside a tree’s roots. His work also entails soil core samples that  contributes thorough data and findings, including root morphology, growth, and root structure.

    Concurrently, Dr. Rossi will establish a 3D Root Growth and Imaging System in the Root Biology Laboratory to allow monitoring and study of root growth and citrus seedlings. In this way, the scientific community will better understand the structural and functional modification in rootstocks under citrus greening, and under different stresses, in addition to citrus greening.

    Dr. Rossi welcomes visiting scholars and graduate students to conduct research projects in his Plant Root Biology Laboratory, as well as in the field. Please email him at:

  • Teaching

    Dr. Lorenzo Rossi instructs courses that expand the university’s department of horticultural science’s offerings.

    His courses cover rhizosphere ecology, environmental stress physiology and citriculture. The courses are: 

    • HOS 6932 Root and Rhizosphere Ecology [Graduate level]
    • HOS 4341 Advanced Horticultural Physiology [Undergraduate level] 
    • HOS 6932 Advanced Horticultural Physiology [Graduate level]
    • Root Structure and Function [Summer course for PhD students]

    His teaching experience includes two years with the University of Florida/IFAS, five years of instructing horticulture courses and supervision of 11 undergraduate and graduate students at four universities, one abroad and three in the U.S.

    In addition to instructing courses to UF students, Dr. Rossi accepts visiting scholars and graduate students to conduct research projects in his Root Biology Laboratory, as well as in the field. Should you wish to contact Dr. Rossi for such an opportunity, please email him:

  • Ricardo Lesmes-Vesga: Graduate Research Assistant

    Ricardo Lesmes-Vesga, a native of the Colombian Andes Mountains region, is pursuing a PhD in Horticultural Sciences with an emphasis on protected agriculture and citrus advanced production systems. 
    Read more about Ricardo Lesmes-Vesga...

Dr. Lorenzo Rossi


Room #235
Indian River Research and Education Center
2199 South Rock Road
Fort Pierce, FL 34945-3138
The UF/IFAS Plant Root Biology Laboratory

  • Education
    • PhD in Agrobiosciences (Plant Biology) Magna cum Laude, Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna, Pisa, Italy, 2014
    • MSc in Crop Production and Management of the Agro-Ecosytem, Magna cum Laude, University of Pisa, Italy, 2010
    • BSc in Agricultural Sciences, Magna cum Laude, University of Pisa, Italy, 2009
  • Research Publications
  • Awards and Service


    • $50,000 Research Grant from Texas A&M University on: "Mechanistic Investigation on the Impact of Engineered Nanoparticles on Plant Uptake and Accumulation of Heavy Metals"
    • Travel Grant and Best Presentation Workshop on Plant Development and Drought Stress, Pacific Grove, California
    • $80,000 Full 3-year scholarship for studies at Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna, Pisa, Italy
    • $60,000 Full 5-year scholarship, University of Pisa, Italy


    • Founder of Italian Club at Texas A&M University, 2015-2017
    • Post Doctorates Representative, CALS at North Carolina State University, 2014-2015
    • 53rd Meeting, Phytochemical Society of North America, Chair for young members' section, 2014
    • President for PhD students in Academic Senate, Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna, Pisa, Italy, 2011-2012
    • President of the Student Body in the Academic Senate, Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna, Pisa, Italy, 2007-2008
    • American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB), 2014-current member
    • Phytochemical Society of North America (PSNA), 2014-current member
    • American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), 2014-current member
    • National Postdoctoral Association (NPA), 2014-current member
    • International Society for Horticultural Sciences (ISHS), 2011-current member
    • Students Association Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna, Italy, 2005-2014