Blight Research Update

Ernie NeffDiseases, Research


Ron Brlansky

Ron Brlansky, a University of Florida professor emeritus, spent much of his career at the Citrus Research and Education Center researching blight, and he’s still working on it. He discussed efforts to obtain funding for more research at a recent seminar in Lake Alfred attended by about 20 people.

“We have a virus that’s associated with it (blight) now,” Brlansky says. The virus associated with blight is a pararetrovirus. “It is transmissible through grafting of roots from tree to tree,” he says. He is working with researchers in other states to obtain funding for work on the pararetrovirus. “We’re going nationwide,” he says. “Other people have pararetroviruses in other crops.”

Blight has been harming Florida citrus for more than 100 years, and much research has been done on the disease with no cure or certain causal agent discovered.

HLB, discovered in Florida in 2005, has harmed citrus even more than blight. Now, Brlansky says, “We see some co-infection of the two diseases … Most of the effect of HLB is on the phloem system of the tree. And the effect of blight on the tree is the xylem system … You’ve got both vascular systems messed up.”

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About the Author
Ernie Neff

Ernie Neff

Senior Correspondent at Large