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Improving Citrus Plant Health from the Ground Up

At UF/IFAS, we are working on finding solutions for Florida’s citrus growers. This is a summary of one project made possible by state legislative funding for the UF/IFAS Citrus Initiative during the 2018-19 cycle. It documents how we are making progress and  providing Florida growers with reasonable, pragmatic solutions to successfully grow citrus in the new age of citrus greening.

Researcher: Nian Wang, Microbiology and Cell Science

IMPACT: New understanding of the working relationships of microorganisms in the soil that surrounds the roots of the citrus plant presents opportunities to control citrus greening disease.

Working with soil samples collected from six continents, Nian Wang of the UF/IFAS Citrus Research and Education Center identified both beneficial and harmful microorganisms that contribute to better nutrition acquisition and plant growth. Learning more about the soil system may lead to options that could modulate the citrus soil microbiome and improve plant production and health. A synthetic microbiome has been identified that has potential to benefit citrus against plant pathogens and promote plant growth.

Additional research looked at manipulating the citrus plant’s rhizobacteria to trigger an immunity to protect against citrus canker. Results were positive under greenhouse conditions.

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