New results in fighting against citrus greening

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Antibiotic treatment of citrus fruits

There is no cure for the disease known as citrus greening, and the main control method so far has been to remove contaminated trees and treat orchards with an insecticide to control the vector. In the USA, the treatment of plantations with certain antibiotics has been authorised.

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Promising results were presented by scientists.

Finding a cure has been challenging due to the complexity of the Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus (CLas) bacteria interactions with the citrus host and the Asian citrus psyllid. Another factor that has made it hard to recover from the disease is the tendency of the citrus industry to focus on a small number of cultivars with commercially desirable traits, but little genetic diversity.

Researchers who are working to find a citrus cultivar that is HLB resistant have a choice of either adding genetic variation through breeding with distant relatives or modifying the trees transgenically. In an article published in the Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science, scientists present promising results from transgenic populations that produce antibodies that can bind with CLas proteins and reduce the bacteria’s ability to replicate.

However, a greater understanding of the disease progression will likely be needed to determine what factors cause the observed divergence in resistance levels.

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