Citrus Researcher Earns National Award

Tacy CalliesAwards, Industry News Release

Nian Wang

Researcher. Scholar. Change agent. Nian Wang, a professor at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS), has been recognized for all of these roles with an award from the American Phytopathological Society (APS) at its 2020 annual meeting.

Wang received the Ruth Allen award, which honors people who have made an outstanding, innovative research contribution that has changed, or has the potential to change, the direction of research in any field of plant pathology. Wang joined the other 2020 awardees at a virtual celebration in early August. 

“Recognition from one’s peers is a great career accomplishment,” said Michael Rogers, UF/IFAS Citrus Research and Education Center director. “Dr. Wang’s groundbreaking work in gene editing, leading to breeding disease-resistant citrus plants, is critical to the future of the global citrus industry.”   

Wang has made impressive strides in understanding the biology of the causal agents for citrus canker and huanglongbing (HLB) diseases.

More importantly, Wang has been a leader in adapting the CRISPR/cas9 technology for site-specific gene editing in plants for disease control. His targeted gene editing of citrus species not only has yielded plants that are highly resistant to citrus canker, it also represents a first and highly important demonstration of the power of this technology in plant disease control.

Wang has published widely on practical methods of control of HLB, such as application of plant defense activators and antibiotics. His findings of highly sensitive and selective detection of the bacterium that causes HLB has led to key understandings of how the pathogen affects the plant.  

Wang also has revealed much about the citrus microbiome, and its linkage to the health and susceptibility of citrus to HLB. His work is showing how the other microbiological components of citrus such as citrus rhizosphere bacteria can induce systemic resistance against citrus canker disease.

Wang has received considerable recognition for his research, having accepted more than 34 invited speaker opportunities at national and international meetings. He has published 91 peer-reviewed publications, many in very high-visibility journals, as well as nine reviews, books and book chapters.

Read about Wang’s research on oxytetracycline applications here.

Source: UF/IFAS