The November episode of the All In For Citrus podcast covers a multitude of grant-funded research that the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) citrus team both leads and collaborates on.
Citrus Research and Education Center Director Michael Rogers begins the podcast with a discussion on research projects UF/IFAS scientists are playing critical roles in collaborative efforts. Projects include studying HLB-tolerant varieties involving finger limes, enhancing root health systematically, and investigating therapeutics and microbial products.
Amit Levy, UF/IFAS plant pathology assistant professor, then highlights the first of two new U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) grant projects. Levy will be looking more into the CLas bacterium that causes HLB. The bacteria clogs the phloem of the tree much like cholesterol in human veins. The new project aims to find out why that happens and how to counteract it.
Bryony Bonning, eminent scholar and professor of nematology and entomology, details the second of the two NIFA grants that UF/IFAS is leading. Her project is tackling the vector of HLB disease, the Asian citrus psyllid (ACP). The research will utilize Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) bacteria and RNA silencing. Bonning says the goal is to have the ACP ingest the deadly proteins Bt bacteria produce and possibly increase that feeding with gene silencing technology. The work hopes to add a critical tool to grower management of the disease by helping to control the vector.