An Update on Breeding Against HLB

Ernie NeffCitrus Greening, Genetic Engineering, HLB Management

HLB, breeding
HLB, breeding

Jude Grosser talks with growers.

University of Florida researcher Jude Grosser recently discussed a broad range of research aimed at mitigating the effects of HLB during an OJ Break in Sebring. Among topics he covered are the possibility of windbreaks that kill HLB-spreading Asian citrus psyllids, and progress on trees that are HLB resistant or tolerant.

Regarding psyllid-killing windbreaks, he says, “We do have a gene that interferes with muscle development in the larval stage of the psyllid. The issue with that technology is that it would also potentially affect bees, so you would probably need to develop windbreak trees that didn’t flower. So that’s another challenge that we’re working on. There’s always a problem with a new strategy.” He describes trees that might be good candidates as part of psyllid-killing windbreaks, but warns this is not a short-term project. “It’s not going to be anything in the next year or two; it’s farther downstream,” he says.

He addresses the development of rootstocks that are tolerant of or resistant to HLB. “In our gauntlet stream, we’ve got 10 or 12 trees on hybrid rootstocks that have had greening for four years now and they’re growing like normal trees. So that’s exciting.”

The OJ Break Grosser addressed was hosted by Highlands County Extension director and citrus Extension agent Laurie Hurner.

Hear more from Grosser:

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Ernie Neff

Ernie Neff

Senior Correspondent at Large