By Madison Sankovitz, Barbara Alonso, Monique Rivera, Lukasz Stelinski, Sara García-Figuera, Peggy G. Lemaux and Beth Grafton-Cardwell
The bacterial disease huanglongbing (HLB) is a devastating disease and has caused massive losses to the U.S. citrus industry. The disease vector, the Asian citrus psyllid, is currently in all U.S. citrus-producing states, and the disease continues to exert a severe impact on both commercial and residential citrus.
While substantial funding has been allocated toward research-based solutions for HLB, few resources exist to inform growers, consumers and the media about these new approaches and accomplishments. To meet this need, a team from the University of California (UC) Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources and the University of Florida developed educational materials to explain these research approaches. These materials are available at the Science for Citrus Health website.
The aim of Science for Citrus Health is to provide growers and the general public with information on strategies for the detection and management of HLB. Materials include informational PowerPoint slides that can be tailored for specific audiences and fact sheets (Research Snapshots) that provide information on various ongoing and completed research projects focusing on novel practices to grow citrus in the face of HLB. These snapshots cover general topics, early HLB detection techniques, disease and psyllid management strategies, and indicate which tools are currently available and which are still in development.
The website, created in May 2015, has been visited over 30,000 times. New Research Snapshots highlighting developing technologies and approaches are written in collaboration with the scientists pioneering these approaches and are continuously added to the website. Currently, there are 32 Research Snapshots on the website.
In addition to Research Snapshots, the Science for Citrus Health team has recently launched a new podcast called Beyond the Bench that features interviews with scientists. Hosted by graduate students at UC Riverside, the podcast feature scientists across many disciplines, but a subsection of episodes focuses exclusively on HLB and the scientists working to combat the disease. The podcast explores both research approaches and in-depth discussion related to the careers of these scientists.
You can listen to the first season on Spotify and Apple podcasts. Included are interviews with Elizabeth Grafton-Cardwell (UC emeritus entomology cooperative Extension specialist and member of the Science for Citrus Health team), Monique Rivera (assistant cooperative Extension specialist at UC Riverside and member of the Science for Citrus Health team), Jim Thomson (research geneticist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture) and Emilyn Matsumura (postdoctoral researcher at UC Davis). Beyond the Bench is currently recording season 2, which will feature more citrus scientists.
Science for Citrus Health has expanded its social media presence to disseminate information about HLB and management techniques to a broad audience. Every week, the team shares diagrams and images depicting research and management techniques. You can see a spread of all these graphics on Instagram, and you can also follow along on Twitter and Facebook (@sci4citrus).
Madison Sankovitz is a graduate student at UC Riverside. Barbara Alonso is a lab manager at UC Berkeley. Monique Rivera is an assistant cooperative Extension specialist at UC Riverside. Lukasz Stelinski is a professor at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Citrus Research and Education Center. Sara García-Figuera is a graduate student at UC Davis. Peggy G. Lemaux is a cooperative Extension specialist at UC Berkeley. Beth Grafton-Cardwell is a UC emeritus entomology cooperative Extension specialist.