A UF/IFAS researcher is looking into utilizing endosymbiotic bacteria in Asian citrus psyllids to combat citrus greening.

Research into combating citrus greening has looked into many avenues, including stopping the Asian citrus psyllid, the vector that spreads citrus greening from tree to tree. One UF/IFAS researcher, associate professor Kirsten Pelz-Stelinski, is studying whether the endosymbiotic bacteria found inside a psyllid, according to a Citrus Industry article. Explore the research below.

Using Endosymbiotic Bacteria to Combat Citrus Greening

In the article, Pelz-Stelinski explained, “What we find is that when we utilize some antimicrobial compounds, including some of the bactericides that are being used in the field, they end up knocking down some of the helpful bacterial that the psyllid relies on for survival. So that, in turn, ended up reducing the fitness or the survival of the psyllids. We also see that psyllids can pick up some of these antimicrobials and it will actually reduce the liberibacter inside the psyllids.”

Pelz-Stelinski maintained that both the reduction in transmission of the citrus greening bacteria and the reduction in the health of the psyllids are occurring. “The psyllid relies on some of these bacteria for nutrition and some of the other functions that it needs to survive…If it comes at the right time and the right dosage … that impacts how good (the psyllids) are going to be as vectors,” she explained in the article.

The goal, according to Pelz-Stelinski, is to utilize or even alter the bacteria to have a negative affect on the psyllids and fight citrus greening. “One of our goals is really to be able to manipulate those (bacteria) and try to use them almost as internal biological control tools to make the psyllids poorer vectors for liberibacter,” she said in the article.

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