Whatâ€™s breakfast without a glass of orange juice?
Orange juice may soon be a thing of the past. International researchers along with University of Florida and Florida State University researchers have received a 4 million dollar grant from the USDA in order combat Candidatus Liberibacter spp. a devastating bacterial disease also known as Citrus Greening, or huanglongbing (HLB), or yellow dragon disease, which is known all around the world, affecting many other citrus growing countries and with no cure known. It is slowly killing off Florida's large orange fields of up to 162,000 acres, as much as 50 percent of production has been cut in the last 4 years due to a $7.8 billion loss in revenue since 2007.
The disease reaches the tree through a sap-sucking insect known as Diaphorina citri, the Asian Citrus Psyllid that feeds on the plant's leaves, allowing the bacteria to reach the vascular system via the phloem and cause it to become obstructed. This causes the tree to starve itself from supplying proper nutrients resulting in fruit that is inferior in size, green, bitter which doesn’t allow for sales in the fruit market. There have been drawbacks such as not being able to cultivate the bacteria to give the bacteria to other researchers, thereby slowing down the process of finding a cure; scientists are trying a number of different alternatives, such as; using similar bacteria in their study trials or genetically modifying citrus trees with spinach plant resistant genes.