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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Ithaca, New York » Robert W. Holley Center for Agriculture & Health » Emerging Pests and Pathogens Research » Research » Research Project #445321

Research Project: Grove Evaluation of Symbiont Technology

Location: Emerging Pests and Pathogens Research

Project Number: 8062-22410-007-044-A
Project Type: Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Sep 17, 2023
End Date: Sep 16, 2024

Citrus Huanglongbing (HLB) disease presents a significant challenge in plant disease management. This disease is caused by the bacterium Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus (CLas) and is transmitted by the Asian citrus psyllid (ACP). Developing molecules that are effective against CLas is a challenging task due to difficulties in manufacturing, EPA registration, and achieving successful delivery into the phloem in the field. Additionally, genetic engineering techniques, which involve the insertion of DNA into plant genomes, has seen limited adoption due to regulatory timelines and the need for growers to replace current groves make use of this technology. Symbiont technology enables the direct delivery of complex, biologically active molecules into the host plant, streamlining the production and delivery of therapies into citrus trees for control of citrus greening disease. In this project, we will evaluate the performance of Symbiont technology in citrus groves in Florida. Data will be collected to support the performance of Symbiont technology and regulatory information to maintain APHIS permits at the field site.

In this research, we will evaluate Symbiont technology as a treatment for citrus greening disease. Trees will be measured using disease index, qPCR, fruit yield and quality, and drone imaging. Data for APHIS permits will be collected, such as detecting agrobacterium using qCPR in test trees, collecting evidence of movement of agrobacterium within inoculated trees, and evidence of movement of agrobacterium into the environment, including other trees and soil samples. Reports will be compiled in accordance with the APHIS permit conditions.