The Citrus Research and Development Foundation (CRDF) board of directors invited six full proposals on combining other antimicrobials with oxytetracycline hydrochloride (OTC-HCl) during its April meeting.
“If growers are going to pay the labor costs for workers to crawl underneath a citrus tree to treat it with OTC-HCl, maybe there are other things that could be mixed with the injection,” said Rick Dantzler, CRDF chief operating officer. “These additional antimicrobials could provide other benefits to the tree or make the OTC-HCl work even better.”
The board invited another proposal from a researcher who believes he has discovered a virus that is present in citrus trees that tolerates HLB better.
“He claims that when the virus was inserted into a tree that was sick with HLB, the tree became HLB-symptom free,” Dantzler said.
Following the CRDF board meeting, the board had a joint meeting with the organization’s Research Management Committee and Select Committee on Plant Improvement to discuss next steps in plant improvement.
“Since a breeding solution is the most likely long-term answer to greening, we must get it right. There was general agreement that nothing should be left off the table for consideration, even genetically engineered and CRISPR trees,” Dantzler said. “Whether those triggers get pulled is not a decision that needs to be made now, but it makes sense to see what the breeders have and what would be required to get them approved by regulatory authorities.
“Also, very aggressive phenotyping to get the best of the best in large-scale field trials had a lot of support from those participating in the meeting, as did genotyping. We have already made a list of action items from the meeting and started working on them the day after the gathering. It was a long meeting, but time well spent.”
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