“We’re looking at how to take bigger steps to deliver solutions, and obviously some of the large agrichemical companies have capabilities. We have communicated with a wide range of companies … And in the case of Bayer, we’re trying to develop a partnership that could lead to a longer-term evaluation of candidate interventions against HLB.”
Browning says the discussion included “opportunities to look at things that Bayer might be able to do that we’ve been doing on a small scale … They would be able to take it a much bigger step than we’ve done.”
Browning addresses the long-term nature of the proposed Bayer effort: “When you look at starting from the beginning or developing any kind of strategy to interfere with HLB … there’s a fairly long timetable.”
The discussions included research on antibacterial products, microbes and plant defense modulators. “Plant defense modulators have been part of what we’ve looked at from the very beginning with HLB,” Browning says. “We know them better as SARs, or systemic resistance activators … They’re essentially materials that rather than directly affect the pathogen, they’re enhancing the tree’s defense against the pathogen.”
The CRDF official explains why the discussions didn’t include funding or some other details of the proposal: “All of our interactions with institutions and commercial partners, we develop to some conclusion before we do announcements. What was presented today in a public meeting was the extent to which the partnership wishes to discuss details. And so we really don’t do more on that until final activity.” He says he expects the CRDF board to consider the proposal at its next meeting on February 28 in Fort Pierce.
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