The Citrus Research and Development Foundation (CRDF) kicked off the year with its monthly board meeting in January. The board invited three researchers who had submitted pre-proposals to submit full proposals during the meeting.
One proposal will study if the ingestion of oxytetracycline hydrochloride (OTC-HCl) will minimize the amount of Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus (CLas) in the gut of “hot” (or HLB-infected) psyllids, which could make them less able to reinfect trees.
If it works, it could be huge,” said Rick Dantzler, CRDF chief operating officer.
The second proposal will evaluate different rates of OTC-HCl. “Essentially, this is seeking to independently confirm what we are being told about dosages from the manufacturer,” Dantzler says.
The third proposal would finish the evaluation of grapefruit field trials that began with HLB Multiagency Coordination funding, which ran out last September.
“It wouldn’t make sense to not collect yield and quality data now that the trees are hitting their fruit-bearing years, so CRDF will pick it up from here,” he said.
CRDF also invited a pre-proposal on citrus blight from Ron Brlansky, professor emeritus with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
“Ron may be on the verge of perfecting an early-detection system, which would make it easier to determine specific triggers that allow blight to become active,” Dantzler said. “We are also interested in using CRISPR to silence the blight gene or genes, which would be the optimal solution.”
The board gave the green light to issue a request for proposals on the use of OTC-HCl in conjunction with other antimicrobials that have been determined to have efficacy against HLB.
“It’s possible that some of these antimicrobials might be as efficacious as OTC-HCl on their own, which would be extremely valuable because we know that OTC-HCl is just a bridge to keep the industry going until a breeding solution solves the HLB problem once and for all,” Dantzler said. “Other antimicrobials could lengthen the timeframe of the bridge before resistance to OTC-HCl by CLas develops.
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