UF/IFAS researchers are looking at citrus microbes to identify which may be able to help citrus trees to fight disease.

Florida citrus trees need all the help they can get in fighting diseases like citrus canker and more, and they may get it in the form of UF/IFAS research studying the beneficial traits of citrus microbes. Researchers Nian Wang, a professor of microbiology and cell science, and Chris Oswalt, a UF/IFAS Extension citrus agent for Polk and Hillsborough counties, are utilizing a $749,990 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA NIFA), according to a UF/IFAS-written article in Central Florida Ag News, to study microbes found in citrus trees. Explore the details below.

Studying Citrus Microbes

The research is focused on endophytic citrus microbes, which are microbes that live and thrive inside citrus trees, such as bacteria within a plant’s roots. According to the article, microbes can “carry nutrients into plants, modulate plant development, increase the stress tolerance of plants, suppress the virulence of pathogens, increase disease resistance in plants, and suppress the development of competitor plant species.”

“A better understanding of the plant microbiome and innovative approaches in application are required to engineer the plant microbiome for successful disease control. This grant will help us gather important information that moves us closer to that goal,” Wang said in the article.

The research will create “useful information regarding the function of endophytic bacteria,” that could be used to create sustainable and environmentally friendly treatments for citrus diseases.

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