CRDF Looking at Peptide for HLB

Ernie NeffHLB Management

A peptide found in finger lime is under study as an HLB control.

When news broke in July that University of California Riverside (UCR) scientists had found a peptide that might control HLB, Rick Dantzler quickly contacted lead UCR scientist Hailing Jin. Dantzler is chief operating officer of the Citrus Research and Development Foundation (CRDF), which was organized in Florida primarily to find ways to solve or cope with HLB.

Jin had found the antimicrobial peptide in the fruit of HLB-tolerant Australian finger limes. CRDF has “not yet” funded Jin’s research, Dantzler says. “But she anticipates coming to CRDF with a funding request.” He adds that Jin’s research is already supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

CRDF has discussed Jin’s promising research with several Florida scientists and with about 10 others from around the United States. “They pointed out pros and cons,” Dantzler says. On Aug. 12, CRDF’s Executive Committee talked with Jin about her work.

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“I think we’re encouraged” by Jin’s research, Dantzler says. “We’re also realistic. We know that she has not tested this peptide on very many citrus plants. So before we get too excited with it, we want to see some larger scale trials.”

Dantzler reports that researchers Megan Dewdney with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and Greg McCollum with the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service in Fort Pierce are among those talking to Jin. They plan to apply the peptide to Hamlin orange trees of fruit-bearing age to see if the peptide “has therapeutic value,” Dantzler says.

“My guess is that CRDF is going to be asked to help out with field trials,” Dantzler says.

“We’ve got to make some real progress on the scientific front quickly,” says Dantzler. “Every year there are fewer citrus growers, and we understand that the clock is ticking. So we’re trying to get these answers (to HLB) as quickly as we can.”

Learn more about Jin’s research in California.

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Ernie Neff

Ernie Neff

Senior Correspondent at Large

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