A University of Florida researcher who helped develop a mathematical model to show how citrus greening spreads within infected trees has received a grant to expand that model.

Florida researcher receives funds for citrus greeningAriena van Bruggen, a plant pathology professor with the Gainesville-based university’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, received $300,000 from the Esther B. O’Keeffe Foundation.

Bruggen plans to use the money to study best strategies to combat greening from tree to tree and wants to discover the more important part of potential solutions, she said in a news release.

While there is no known cure for huanglongbing, also known as HLB and citrus greening, the disease is being slowed with solutions that include removing symptomatic trees, controlling insects and boosting the tree’s immune system, van Bruggen said in the release.

Removing diseased new growth doesn’t solve much, the current model shows, and even without showing symptoms, the flush or shoots may already be infected which means other tree parts can become infected, according to the release.

The model shows that once a tree is infected, early applications of insecticides may only slow rather than halt the disease’s progression, according to the release.

In 2012, the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published the model van Bruggen and her colleagues developed.