Speeding Up Citrus Greening Research

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citrus greening

Citrus greening infected tree

Clewiston, FL – U.S. Sugar, in a partnership with Texas A&M AgriLife Research, announced a significant step forward in research efforts fighting diseases impacting food crops, including citrus greening. Early-stage research has demonstrated promise in rapidly culturing and propagating fastidious pathogens and microbes, including those that cause citrus greening, and enabling testing a broad range of antimicrobial solutions.

“This cutting-edge research allows us to more efficiently and cost-effectively find a workable defense against fastidious pathogens and microbes like citrus greening in Florida,” said Dan Casper, president of Southern Gardens Citrus, a wholly-owned subsidiary of U.S. Sugar. “We look forward to continuing work with AgriLife Research’s scientists with the goal of bringing an effective product to market one day soon.”

Led by Kranthi Mandadi at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research Center in Weslaco, the continuing research using this patent-pending invention is focused on developing and utilizing a versatile microbial hairy root-based system to cultivate pathogens that are otherwise very difficult to culture and study.

This system affords researchers and industry opportunities for much faster (four times or greater) screening. The platform can be utilized to screen antimicrobials based on various strategies, which include but are not limited to testing:

  • Transgenic methods
  • Gene editing methods
  • RNAi molecules
  • Antibiotics and active ingredients
  • Other plant protection compounds and biologicals

Conventional screening methods in citrus typically take one to two years for screening chemistries and several years for transgenics and gene-editing trials. These slow, conventional methods delay, impair and prevent research and development from reaching commercial viability. Most of these strategies and potential therapies can now be screened in a much higher throughput and timely manner by utilizing Texas A&M AgriLife Research’s microbial hairy root platform.

U.S. Sugar continues to develop other solutions with Texas A&M AgriLife Research and other research organizations that may be helpful in the fight against citrus greening. These research solutions to citrus greening have been advancing on several tracks — including genetically engineered (GE) field trials, a permanent but longer-range solution, and several shorter-term solutions including CTVvv. Like GE, CTVvv involves introducing spinach defensins or proteins to help fight citrus greening in trees without genetically modifying the trees.

Source: U.S. Sugar

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