UA Leads Research To Stop Spread Of Citrus Greening

Published: Thursday, January 25, 2018 - 5:00am
Updated: Thursday, January 25, 2018 - 7:03am

About $17 million in federal grants have just been awarded to fight a disease called citrus greening, devastating citrus crops nationwide. Jan. 15 was the start date of the four-year grant.

The citrus industry has lost nearly half of its $1.5 billion on-tree fruit value in just 10 years due to the disease.

Judith Brown is a professor in the School of Plant Sciences at the University of Arizona, the lead research institution. She said scientists will deliver a kind of “therapy” to citrus trees that will be ingested by psyllids, the insects that spread the disease.

“It’s a way to target specific genes and silence them or stop them from being expressed or stop them from making proteins,” Dr. Brown said.

Researchers say damage to citrus from the 2017 hurricane season further reinforces a sense of urgency. The grant was funded by the emergency Citrus Disease Research and Extension Program, authorized as part of the 2014 Farm Bill.

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