UF/IFAS-developed mandarin is displaying an increased HLB tolerance.
A recent article from the University of South Florida’s Institute of Food and Agriculture Sciences (UF/IFAS) examines why a UF/IFAS-created mandarin is showing an increased HLB tolerance. HLB, also known as citrus greening, has decimated Florida’s citrus industry, cutting production by over 70 percent since it was detected in South Florida in 2005. Explore the important details of the mandarin and how researchers hope its improved HLB tolerance can be used to help other citrus varieties to beat HLB.
Reasons for the Increased HLB Tolerance
The mandarin showing the increased HLB tolerance is LB8-9, also named Sugar Belle. It was developed by UF/IFAS professors Jude Grosser and Fred Gmitter in 2009 by mixing the Clementine and Minneola mandarins, and it showed increased tolerance to citrus greening (HLB) in field trials. According to the UF/IFAS article and UF/IFAS horticultural sciences professor Fred Gmitter, the Sugar Belle clementine was the second most popular mandarin hybrid grown in Florida citrus nurseries, showing grower interest for the variety.
Assistant professor of plant pathology, Nabil Killiny, looked into why Sugar Belle has an increased HLB tolerance; the entire study is published in the journal “Plant Physiology and Biochemistry,” with Grosser and Gmitter as co-authors. They found that Sugar Belle was high high in several volatiles, a variety of metabolites and other beneficial compounds called phenolics.
Researchers surmise these compounds may act as antimicrobials, helping the mandarin to fight the bacteria that causes citrus greening/HLB. “The results of this study gives more insights about the mechanism behind tolerance of some citrus cultivars to HLB,” Killiny is quoted in the UF/IFAS article as saying. “Understanding of the mechanisms behind tolerance to HLB could help in developing economically tolerant citrus cultivars.”
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