Research into citrus root hairs show they could be beneficial in the fight against citrus greening for Florida citrus growers.

It has long been thought that citrus varieties do not develop root hairs, according to a Citrus Industry article by two UF/IFAS Citrus Research and Education Center (CREC) researchers. Root hairs are elongated microscopic outgrowths from plant roots that absorb moisture and nutrients from the soil. However, the article shares about recent research that show growth of citrus root hairs can be stimulated, and that root hairs could aid in the fight against citrus greening. See the details below.

Citrus Root Hairs and Citrus Greening

Citrus greening causes a decrease in citrus root mass that leads to nutritional deficiencies that seriously compromise production. Research has shown that supplying extra nutrients, increased irrigation, and improving soil health can all help citrus trees to

According to the article, recent research has shown that root hair growth can be stimulated when soil phosphorus (P) concentrations are extremely low, but not deficient, so the researchers tried it with citrus seedlings.

Carrizo citrange seedlings were placed in one of three solution culture tanks with different levels of P, high (10 ppm), low (0.7 ppm) and very low (0.2 ppm). The researchers then looked for root hair growth after 6 months. They found that the seedlings in the low P tanks had the highest amount of root hair growth. These root hairs would increase the plant’s ability to take up water and nutrients.

Researchers then exposed the seedlings to Asian citrus psyllids to infect them with the bacteria that cause citrus greening. When they looked at the root hairs again, they found the low solution seedlings only lost 27% of their root hairs due to citrus greening infection, while the high solution seedlings lost 96% and the very low solution seedlings lost 98%. The authors posit that, while more research is needed, the use of low P concentrations could be “a novel approach for increasing root hair proliferation in HLB-endemic citrus groves, potentially improving nutrient uptake and increasing citrus tree health.”

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