A University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) researcher has found a material that can be used to silence essential genes within Asian citrus psyllids and in the HLB-causing bacterial pathogen that the psyllids spread. The material is 2’-deoxy-2’-flouro-d-arabinonucleic acid antisense oligonucleotides (FANA ASO), small-sized single-stranded nucleic acids.
The discovery was made by Kirsten Pelz-Stelinski, an associate professor of entomology and nematology at the UF/IFAS Citrus Research and Education Center.
Pelz-Stelinski and her team were able to reduce the HLB disease pathogen in the psyllid and in citrus, leading to less transmission and a potential reduction in disease severity.
“The intent of this research was to find alternative, environmentally friendly tools for psyllid management as current pest management strategies have led to the development of resistance among Asian citrus psyllid populations,” said Pelz-Stelinski. “Understanding the relationships of essential bacteria needed for insect survival provides potentially important targets for control strategies that use bactericides. Disrupting how the psyllid acquires and processes the pathogen while impacting the nutrition and fitness of the psyllid may provide an alternative management tool in controlling transmission of the HLB pathogen.”
Researchers also looked at treating the roots of HLB-infected citrus trees with specific types of FANA ASO. They found significant reductions of the HLB-causing bacteria in the tree during a 30-day trial.
The researchers conducted their experiments in a lab setting and with citrus materials in a controlled environment. The next step would be to assess how the …..
Learn more about HLB Control: A New Potential Method on the Citrus Industry website.