Explore how cooperative research and women in ag leadership are working to fix citrus greening.
Citrus greening is spreading; it has been at work for over a decade in Florida citrus groves, and everyone can agree that the devastation it has brought to The Sunshine State’s citrus industry is enormous. Citrus greening, also known as HLB, has begun to also threaten the citrus industries of other citrus-growing states. For instance, the pathogen was detected in residential citrus in California in 2012 and 2017, and while it hasn’t yet been found in citrus states like Arizona, the best bet is it’s coming. The brightest minds in citrus research are banding together to fight the threat of citrus greening, and it’s highlighting how both cooperation and women in ag will likely be important keys to solving this problem. See the details of a story on CitrusIndustry.net highlighted both points.
A Story About Women-Led, Collaborative Citrus Greening Research
Wendo Ma, a professor of plant pathology in the University of California, Riverside (UCR)’s College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, recently led a group of scientists from across the world—many of them women—in research that looks into the molecular mechanism that allows the citrus greening bacteria to get around the natural immune system of citrus trees. “Citrus trees, like all plants, have complex immune systems to prevent pathogenic infection, so the question is ‘how does the CLas pathogen evade that immunity so it can cause disease?” Ma asked in the article.
Published in the science journal Nature Communications, the research found that the citrus greening bacteria inhibit enzyme activity that controls the ability of a citrus tree to fight the infection. The research team believes it could lead to methods for beating the disease, especially utilizing CRISPR gene editing technology. “This study represents an important step toward better understanding the HLB disease mechanism, which will help us develop novel approaches to control this unstoppable disease,” Ma explained in the article.
It’s a fine example of researchers from a variety of educational institutions—the University of California, Texas A&M University, the University of Florida, and even as far as Oxford University in England—all worked together to solve the scourge of citrus greening. The solution will come, and it will be a group effort that involves contributions of all groups.
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