Studying the Mechanisms for HLB Tolerance

Tacy Callies All In For Citrus Podcast, Research, Varieties

John Chater

John Chater has been on the job now for two years, working with growers to evaluate variety performance in field trials. In the latest All In For Citrus podcast episode, the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) assistant professor discusses his work, including grower collaboration to study new varieties in real-world environments.

Chater also talks about a new research project recently funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

“In this project, we are going to be looking at some orange scions and other cultivars that appear to have HLB tolerance. We will compare how these cultivars perform in the field versus in a citrus under protective screen (CUPS) system.”

The goal of this research is to compare the varieties in an environment free of HLB (in CUPS) and outdoors where the disease is endemic. The study will look at standard varieties like Valencia and Hamlin, but also others that have gained recent interest for HLB tolerance.

“We are going to look for trends and mechanisms to discover why something like Hamlin N-13-32, when it is the right environment, looks very healthy when compared to its clone, which is Hamlin 141,” Chater said. “We will be testing the gene expression (in CUPS and outdoors) to see if we can identify biological mechanisms and why some of these selections seem to be healthier when challenged by HLB.”

The hope is that the project can help identify the genes that are contributing to HLB tolerance and perhaps lead to successful gene editing of future varieties with HLB-tolerance or resistance.

To hear more on this project and other research Chater is working on, check out the December 2023 episode of All In For Citrus. The podcast is a joint partnership between UF/IFAS and AgNet Media.

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Frank Giles