Citrus Research and Development Foundation (CRDF) Chief Operations Officer Harold Browning reports on the conclusion of the five-year NuPsyllid project aimed at developing a psyllid that won’t spread HLB.
“The NuPsyllid project was a project funded through the USDA competitive grant program and was established in 2012 to develop a psyllid that would not be capable of transmitting the (HLB-causing) bacteria from an infected to an uninfected tree,” Browning says. “CRDF took the lead in developing this approach with a fairly large group of scientists from around the country. The 5-year period of that study is over. Many of those scientists have great advances in what they have learned … Although this particular grant is over, the project will continue in various forms … We do not have a (non-HLB-spreading) psyllid in hand, or in culture, or on a plant that is ready to go to the field. But the advances that came out of the research should lead us to that end point.”
Browning points out that “all of the pieces (in the project) are high risk,” meaning there’s no guarantee of success. “I’m not disappointed; some great science has come along,” he adds.
Browning also reports on Hurricane Irma’s impact on CRDF research efforts: “It looks pretty promising that most of the field trials we have are in good shape.” He says that a large cooperative program between CRDF and Bayer CropScience is reportedly on schedule.
Finally, Browning discusses the Oct. 17 honoring of Tom Turpen, CRDF’s long-time contractual program manager. “We honored Tom Turpen and TIG, the Technology Innovations Group, for the role they played in bringing about CRDF,” Browning says. He notes that Turpen and TIG are “playing a lesser role” for CRDF. “Dr. Lisa Weaver (a new hire) will take over on a regular basis the primary responsibilities that TIG and Tom Turpen provided for us … We are leaving the door open to continue our relationship with TIG.”
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