Universities Receive 11 Federal Grants for HLB Research

Josh McGillHLB Management, Research

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA NIFA) has invested more than $25 million in 11 projects as part of the Emergency Citrus Disease Research & Extension program. This program brings the nation’s top scientists together with citrus industry representatives to find scientifically sound solutions that combat and prevent citrus greening (HLB)​ at the farm level.


Some of this year’s grants will use conventional breeding and gene editing technologies to develop non-transgenic HLB-resistant citrus hybrids. Other awarded grants will be investigating therapeutics and their delivery into the citrus phloem, evaluation of sources of HLB resistance, and molecular characterization of HLB susceptibility genes, among others.

The University of Florida received five of the USDA NIFA grants. The University of California, Riverside received three. Clemson University, the University of Wisconsin and Yale University each received one grant.  

The project titles and principal investigators are:


  • Enhancing the delivery of therapeutics into citrus phloem by linking sugar molecules, Amit Levy
  • Engineering resistance/tolerance against citrus HLB using precision genome editing, Nian Wang
  • IPM approach that delivers economic viability to citrus production with HLB, Lukasz Stelinski
  • Rapid generation and evaluation of Eremocitrus-derived populations for HLB tolerance and fruit quality, Jose Chaparro
  • Multiomic dissection of HLB tolerance in B9-65 Valencia, N13-32 Hamlin, OLL-8 sweet orange and other cultivars, John Chater


  • Evaluation of promising, HLB-resistant/tolerant citrus scion hybrids generated by breeding, Chandrika Ramadugu
  • Generating non-transgenic citrus rootstocks and scions that constitutively express stable antimicrobial peptide SAMP to control HLB, Hailing Jin
  • Large-scale breeding and evaluation of the next generation of superior rootstocks for citrus production in regions with huanglongbing, Danelle Seymour


  • Fast selection, assessment and delivery of HLB-resistant/tolerant citrus variants as new scion and rootstock cultivars, Feng Luo


  • Evaluate the effectiveness of RAA, a natural metabolite, in controlling HLB through foliar spray and a combination of RAA with oxytetracycline via trunk injection, Ching-Hong Yang


  • Analyses of susceptibility genes in a library of multiplex gene-edited citrus plants, Vivian Irish

Learn details about each of the 11 projects here.


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