Citrus greening disease is caused by the CLas bacterium, which is spread by the Asian citrus psyllid. It is the most serious threat to citrus production worldwide. ( Courtesy Texas A&M Agrilife Research )

Texas A&M AgriLife Research received more than $1.7 million in U.S. Department of Agriculture funding for two projects in collaboration with the University of California and others to combat citrus greening.

Citrus greening, also known as Huanglongbing/HLB, is a pathogen spread by the Asian citrus psyllid. HLB has caused billions of dollars in losses in Florida and has now made its way to Texas and California, according to a news release.

“Economic losses from citrus greening are huge, including the potential loss of jobs and associated economic activity,” Kranthi Mandadi, Texas A&M AgriLife Research plant pathology and microbiology assistant professor, said in the release. “There are also environmental impacts from the current unsustainable measures to manage citrus greening.”

By using the microbial hair root system, which allows for faster screening of therapies, Mandadi expects the projects to create long-term solutions against citrus greening.

“The microbial hairy root system … allows up to four times faster screening of therapies and speeds up the discovery process,” David Ragsdale, chief scientific officer and AgriLife Research associate director, College Station, Texas, said in the release.

The project is also a part of an undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral student training program at the University of California and Texas A&M University, according to the release. Students will be trained in citrus research and have the opportunity to present their results to industry stakeholders.

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