Researchers from a variety of colleges and universities around the country team up utilize science to fight citrus greening.

Researchers from the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agriculture Sciences, the University of California-Davis, and others are working together to utilize gene sequencing to create citrus tree varieties that are better able to tolerate greening, also called huanglongbing, or HLB for short. According to a UF/IFAS blog, Nian Wang, a professor of microbiology and cell science with UF/IFAS is part of a national team to utilize gene sequencing to combat citrus greening. See the details below.

Gene Sequencing and Citrus Greening

According to the blog, Wang has $735,000 in funding from a $4 million-dollar grant funded by the Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI). The SCRI is a division of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, which is a part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). His team is tasked with taking genes that are known to be resistant to citrus greening and put them into commercial varieties of citrus, which are susceptible to greening. The idea is to transfer the resistance into current commercial citrus varieties.

“There is a pressing need to identify therapies and treatment to protect citrus trees against HLB in commercial groves as well as develop new commercial varieties that are tolerant or resistant to HLB… Our approach to address this challenge is to increase the potential of citrus’ own immunity,” Wang said in the blog.

Greening has devastated the Florida citrus industry since being detected in South Florida citrus groves in 2005, and it has since been detected in Texas and California. “The outcome will provide sustainable solutions that can be deployed in the field in the near- to mid-term and help manage the severe losses inflicted by HLB,” Wang said in the blog.

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