Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center, Weslaco, TX

The Weslaco AgriLife Research Center’s facilities include: 55,000 ft2 offices, labs, classrooms, auditorium, etc.; 74,000 ft2 greenhouses, workshops, storerooms, walk-in seed storage room, sheds, etc.; and 360 acres of cropland, including on-site cropland experimental fields with already established system for different types of irrigation (flood, spray and drop). The Center has expert support personnel, including secretarial, human resources and accounting services


Breeding and Genetics Lab
Dr. Avila’s Breeding and Genetics Lab is located at the Weslaco Texas A&M AgriLife Vegetable Improvement Building. Dr. Avila’s has two 590 ft2 labs (1,180 ft2 total) equipped to perform molecular (genotyping, gene expression, etc) and conventional breeding research, two controlled temperature and automatic ferti-irrigation greenhouses (1,650 ft2 and 1,250 ft2), five environmental growth chambers, and field lab. Molecular lab is equipped with two Thermal cyclers, horizontal electrophoresis systems, Gel documentation system, incubation ovens, orbital shakers, centrifuges, fume hood, three sterile hoods, sample storage fridge/freezers (4°C, -20°C, and -80°C with CO2 backup), and analytical balance. In addition, the program has unrestricted access to the following equipment inside the research center: inverted compound microscope, tissue culture chamber, incubators, spectrophotometer, refrigerated centrifuges, chromatography system, autoclave,  desiccant dehumidifier,  portable photosynthesis system, Tissuelyser homogenizer, leaf area meter, scintillation counter system, fluorometer, light microscope, and water purification system.

Chemical Composition Analysis

The Chemical Composition Analysis laboratory at Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Weslaco, TX handles a wide range of analytical problems that reflects the diversity of our scientific research programs. It provide services to the Vegetable Breeding Program and the rest of the Weslaco Center faculty for analytical method development/validation and product quality control testing. Available equipment includes:

  1. Inductively Coupled Plasma-Optical Emission System, Perkin Elmer Optima 7300DV ICP-OES. Used for metal analysis, such as Na, K, P, S, Ca, Mg, B, Mn, Fe, etc. The Optima 7300 DV, ICP-OES instrument, is capable of determination of more than 73 elements in seconds. It has dual viewing of the plasma and two solid- state detectors one for UV and one for Vis.
  2. Ultra-High Performance Liquid Chromatography, Thermo Fisher Scientific (Dionex) UltiMate 3000 UHPLC with Diode Array Detector (DAD) and Refractive Index Detector (RID). DAD is used to detect compounds in the UV-Visible wavelength range, such as b-carotene, lycopene, amino acids (Alanine, arginine, asparagine, aspartic acid, glutamine, glutamic acid, glycine, etc). RID is used for analysis of compounds with little or no absorption in the UV range, for detection of alcohols, sugars, carbohydrates, fatty acids and polymers in combination with an isocratic Thermo™ Scientific™ Dionex™ UltiMate™ 3000 system.
  3. Colorimeter, Systea Easy-Chem Plus Discrete Analyzer. This colorimeter is used for USEPA methods for Total Kjeldahl Nitrogen, Nitrate, Nitrite, Chloride, Alkalinity, Ammonia, Nitrate+Nitrite, Total Phosphorous, and Sulfate determination
  4. IKA Calorimeter C2000 (C5010 vessel). To measure energy by determining the gross calorific value of a solid or liquid sample by measuring the quantity of energy released during the process.  (use benzoic acid tablet for standard reference=26.434 Kjoules/gram).
  5. Near Infra-Red spectrometer (NIR), Spectra Star from Unity Scientific. This Near infrared spectrometer is used for rapid, non-destructive, multiconstituent analysis of a wide range of products. It measures the NIR spectrum of a sample of a given product, then applies the appropriate calibration to generate analytical results for the various properties (constituents) of interest.
  6. Ankom 2000 Fiber Analyzer. Fiber test results can be determined for Acid Detergent Fiber, Neutral Detergent Fiber, and Crude Fiber for all feeds and forages using detergents for digestion of the samples.


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