Peptide Could Restore Florida Citrus

Tacy CalliesHLB Management

Finger limes could hold the key to HLB control.

CghSAMPa, the peptide found in the fruit of greening-tolerant Australian finger limes, is believed to be the first substance capable of controlling huanglongbing (HLB, also known as citrus greening).

University of California, Riverside and Invaio Sciences, Inc. have partnered to advance the peptide research with hopes of bringing an HLB solution to commercialization by 2023.

During a recent seminar hosted by Invaio Sciences, experts shared with industry members the potential impacts of the solution.

According to Umberto Torresan, senior director of business development at Invaio, the peptide solution delivers across all dimensions of citrus greening control. Preventing infection, treating infection and supporting tree health are the top three objectives of the solution. To meet these objectives, the solution can be injected into nursery stock and actively producing citrus trees to control HLB and restore yields and overall tree health.

“The theory here is because we can clear CLas (Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus, the bacteria that causes HLB) out of the tree, we should be able to move productivity back to some close approximation of where it was pre-HLB,” said David Gerrard, economics expert for Invaio.

One of the largest concerns citrus growers have is preserving tree health and fruit quality. With enormous investments in new plantings, growers want to see their trees reach the maturity “sweet spot” of achieving maximum fruit quality and tree productivity. According to Gerrard, with the peptide solution, growers can expect healthier, longer-living trees, which will maximize their investment.

Additionally, HLB negatively effects the flavor of infected citrus. Gerrard is optimistic the solution could restore the flavor profile for Florida citrus.

“Right now there’s some pretty strong data coming out from the lab and controlled environments on the utility of CghSAMPa,” says Tom Malvar, head of research and development at Invaio.

Researchers are also expecting that the solution will only need to be injected a couple of times per year, making it cost effective for growers.

Read more from the Invaio webinar here.

Ashley Robinson, AgNet Media communications intern, wrote this article.