Nian Wang, a University of Florida (UF) Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences professor, has been awarded one of the school’s 2022 Inventions of the Year for his work on HLB. Wang works in the Microbiology and Cell Science Department at the Citrus Research and Education Center. He worked on controlling HLB by mitigating cell death of the phloem tissues caused by Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus, which is HLB’s causal agent.
Wang has presented compelling evidence that the HLB infection triggers an excessive immune response in citrus trees, leading to death of the cells transporting nutrients to the plant. With this breakthrough information, he and other researchers can target treatments and modify genes to make citrus trees resistant to infection. Soilcea, a commercial partner, is working with UF to create and test gene-edited citrus based on this new knowledge.
Wang was honored at UF Innovate | Tech Licensing’s fifth annual Standing InnOvation event. Since its inception in 2018, Standing InnOvation has recognized UF innovators who disclosed, licensed or optioned technologies. This year, UF innovators disclosed 310 technologies, licensed 124 technologies and started 10 companies. Out of those 310 technologies, each of UF’s six licensing teams chose one Invention of the Year that stood out to them as one with great potential.
“Showcasing these awards each year never fails to amaze me at the breadth and depth of innovation we have at the University of Florida,” said Jim O’Connell, assistant vice president of commercialization and director of UF Innovate. “They are a sampling of the vast array of fields covered on our campus and across the state, the wide variety of problems considered, and solutions found.”
In a July 20 webinar, Wang explained the sequence in which HLB attacks trees and suggested ways growers can use that knowledge to combat HLB. Learn more about that presentation here.
Source: University of Florida
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