CRDF Selects Research Topics

Ernie Neff CRDF, Research

HLB symptoms on citrus

Citrus Research and Development Foundation (CRDF) directors on March 23 voted to request research proposals from scientists in nine topic areas for the coming year. The nine areas, mostly focusing on HLB, are:

  1. Understanding the mechanisms for increasing fruit retention in HLB trees by manipulating hormonal balance in the fruit and the tree or by altering the relationship between vegetative and reproductive activity with hedging and topping the canopy.
  2. Confirm the relationship between root health (i.e., density, longevity) and fruit drop by reduction of plant stress caused by deficiency of water, nutrient, pest and/or pathogens.
  3. Management strategies involving plant growth regulators and/or tree covers to reduce damage by foliar and root pests and pathogens in young citrus trees.
  4. Tolerance of rootstocks to sting nematode and/or measures to reduce sting root damage to reduce losses in tree growth/production during establishment.
  5. Develop a simple, cost effective device/method of tree injection directly into the phloem to deliver an effective dose of bactericides, biorational compounds (e.g. antimicrobial peptides) or nutrient formulations for sustainable reduction of Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus (CLas) in bearing trees. Additional considerations may involve minimizing mechanical injury, phytotoxicity and residues in fruit or juice. Consideration will also be given to devices designed to remain in the tree for at least a 10-year period.
  6. Develop an assay for tree response to damage by CLas infection as a measure of success of therapies for HLB control.
  7. Utilizing an assay such as plant hairy roots or another novel assay to screen for potent peptides to prevent multiplication of CLas or induce resistance to CLas. Also, an approach could involve synthesizing hybrids between different peptides with increased antimicrobial activity or increased likelihood of regulatory acceptance. Consider the use of membrane-permeable peptides such as those being considered for medical uses to be ligated to other proteins/peptides to easily move them across membranes and enter the phloem.
  8. Evaluate tree size controlling rootstocks in a high-density planting to enable mechanical harvesting. Determine the optimum tree density and fertilizer rate to establish fruit bearing including an economic analysis of the inputs.
  9. Incidence of greasy spot (GS) rind blotch on grapefruit has become an increasing concern due to reduction in pack-out. Research should be aimed at the factors affecting control of GS rind blotch including spray volume and coverage of fruit, spray frequency and timing, fungicide mode of action, potential for fungal resistance and other pertinent variables.

Learn about the levels of spending on HLB research.

Source: Citrus Research and Development Foundation

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