A collaboration between a UF lab and others has successfully grown the citrus greening bacterium in culture to further study citrus greening.

A recent Citrus Industry article by UF/IFAS associate professor Nabil Killiny shared that a research team has successfully developed a new method for growing citrus greening bacterium in culture. The collaboration between a UF lab, Washington State University labs, and a University of Arizona lab have developed a membrane biofilm reactor for growing the bacterial culture, which offers many advantages for studying the bacteria that cause citrus greening. Read a summary of the advantages below.

Advantages of the New Method for Growing the Citrus Greening Bacterium

The team published their findings in the journal Biofilm, sharing the development of the modified formula of the medium used in the biofilm reactor, such as additional vitamins and nutrients used to grow the CLas bacteria. They also shared their success with sustaining the bacterial biofilm culture for two years, a feat that had not yet been accomplished.

Per the article, the benefits of the discovery include:

  • Using the host-free bacterial biofilm culture helps identify key nutrients required for growing the bacterium, and thus potential options in attacking the bacteria.
  • It “opens up new avenues for studying the pathogen and understanding the mechanisms of HLB.”
  • Allow researchers to gain definitive proof that the CLas bacterium causes citrus greening.
  • It will help researchers in researchers understanding “the chemical and physical requirements for growth, cellular communication and metabolism, and identify any weak points that could be exploited to eradicate the disease.”
  • Aid in researching the mutualistic relationships between CLas and other bacteria with the aim of “selectively removing cohabiting bacteria from the culture until CLas stops growing.”
  • Being able to test treatments, like antibiotics, much more quickly and inexpensively than conventional field experiments in trees.

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