New research may help protect citrus from an
exotic disease called huanglongbing or citrus greening.
Citrus' Huanglongbing Disease Voted Top Research
Proposal By Marcia Wood November 9, 2006
Huanglongbing, an exotic citrus disease thats also known as
citrus greening, is the focus of the top-ranked research proposal in the
Agricultural Research Service's (ARS)
2007 Postdoctoral Research Award Program.
California-based ARS plant physiologist
Lin wrote the proposal, which received the highest score in the
agencys annual in-house competition. He will receive the agency's T.W.
Edminster Award and $120,000 to fund a two-year postdoctoral position in his
laboratory at the ARS
Joaquin Valley Agricultural Sciences Center near Parlier, Calif. Lin also
will be honored at the ARS annual awards ceremony in 2007.
The postdoc that Lin hires will work with him to develop a fast,
reliable test to detect the microbe that causes Huanglongbing, or HLB, in
oranges, lemons and other familiar citrus. Early and reliable detection of the
microbea bacterium known to scientists as Candidatus
Liberibacteris essential to stopping its spread, according to Lin. The
new diagnostic test will be based on analysis of samples of the culprit
microbe's genetic material, or DNA.
The bacterium was detected in the United States for the first time in
2005, in Florida. It can weaken or kill citrus trees or cause them to stop
bearing fruit. Tiny, winged insects known as psyllids spread the microbe.
Huanglongbing also occurs in the tropics and subtropics of Asia, India, Africa
and South America.
Also under the ARS 2007 Postdoctoral Research Award Program, another
49 ARS scientists from around the country will receive $100,000 to fund
two-year postdoc positions. Their investigations will cover such subjects as
determining the effectiveness of fruit and vegetable compounds in preventing
cancer and other diseases, improving corn plants' ability to withstand drought,
finding genetic markers that predict pork quality, and exploring a high-tech
approach to detecting pathogens on food.
ARS is the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.