Recent research has shown promise in targeting the citrus greening-causing CLas bacteria in Asian citrus psyllids and other insects.

Citrus greening has been called “the most serious threat to sustainable global citrus production,” and research is on-going to find a solution. Researchers with UF/IFAS, AUM LifeTech, Inc., and the USDA has shown promise in targeting CLas bacteria transmitted by Asian citrus psyllids (ACPs), according to a Growing Produce article. The results are published in the July issue of Frontiers in Agronomy-Pest Management. Explore the details below.

Targeting CLas Bacteria

Research has been on-going into targeting both the ACPs that spread citrus greening as well as the CLas bacteria itself. According to the article, the research has shown promise for the use of the molecule FANA ASO (antisense oligonucleotide); FANA ASO, “when used in a water solution attacks the inner part of the pest’s cells and also reduces the harmful bacteria the insects transmit,” per the article.

The molecule also has the benefit of being versatile. According to the article, it targets “insects, bacteria, and viruses through multiple delivery methods, making it easy to apply directly to the soil and root zone of citrus trees, potted plants, or as a topical spray application onto the leaves of plant foliage.” The molecule can also be utilized to target other harmful bacteria that threaten other crops.

Wayne Hunter, an ARS Research Entomologist at the U. S. Horticultural Research Laboratory in Fort Pierce, FL, said in the article, “Bacterial pathogens have only been targeted using antibiotics in fruit crops and livestock animals. The successful use of FANA to target these pathogens in citrus trees, grapevines, and vegetable crops is a game-changer. It has transformed how we can manage pathogens and pests of plants in the future.”

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