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New research indicates that close monitoring of citrus trees can prevent the spread of citrus greening.

In a research paper called “Targeted Early Detection of Citrus Huanglongbing Causal Agent ‘Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus’ Before Symptom Expression,” University of Florida researchers Nian Wang and his postdoctoral research associate Sheo Shanker Pandey developed a strategy for early diagnosis of HLB before the appearance of blotchy mottle symptoms, according to a news release.

The release said the researchers used a low-cost staining method to identify insect feeding sites and tested those identified sites for the causal agent using quantitative real-time PCR (polymerase chain reaction).

“Through this method, the pair were able to detect the HLB causal agent up to two days after transmission and long before the appearance of symptoms,” according to the release. “This early detection will enable citrus growers to prevent the spread of HLB in their fields. This finding is especially crucial for California, Texas, Australia, and the Mediterranean region as those areas are currently plagued by HLB.”