What is in this article?:
- Can spinach proteins save the U.S. citrus industry?
- Field test findings
- Better understanding HLB
- Suggestions for western citrus growers
- Texas A&M plant pathologist Erik Mirkov is fine-tuning a transgenic process which could help the citrus industry survive its worst scourge, the disease Huanglongbing.
- Mirkov is inserting multiple protein genes – called definsins – from spinach into young citrus plants to create transgenic trees which act as a protective shield against HLB.
- Field tests reveal either complete immunity to HLB or extremely high resistance.
Erik Mirkov, Texas A&M plant pathologist, Weslaco, Texas, creates transgenic citrus plants using spinach genes which make the tree either highly resistant or immune to the citrus disease Huanglongbing.
Suggestions for western citrus growers
Based on the lessons learned by the Florida-HLB experience, Brlansky offered these suggestions for citrus growers in California, Texas, and Arizona (when the disease is not widespread).
Keep the pathogen out. Regulate propagating materials to prevent introduction.
- Eradication if found early. Use good available detection systems.
- Reduce the psyllid populations; this is a big challenge.
- Manage the grove as if HLB is already present.
- Always use disease-free nursery stock.
- If HLB is found, remove the infected tree and treat the stump to prevent sprouts.
- If HLB is present, remove alternative host plants, including orange jasmine (Murraya paniculata) and box orange (Severinia buxifolia).
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