Huanglongbing (HLB) continues to be an issue for citrus growers, but a biocontrol treatment shows promise in combatting symptoms. Using a benign strain of Xylella fastidiosa bacteria in infected trees is helping mitigate the impact of HLB. “Trees that we injected with the biocontrol had far fewer symptoms than the control trees that we had not treated. In some of these tests, the difference was quite striking,” said Don Hopkins, emeritus professor of Plant Pathology at the University of Florida.
In the latest episode of Making Sense of Biologicals, Hopkins describes the success of their multi-year research project. Most biological control agents either compete with pathogens or produce something that will attack the pathogen itself. Hopkins noted that the benign bacteria known as EB92-1 appears to function differently. The biocontrol treatment appears to be inducing systemic resistance to HLB in both young and old trees.
“I think what’s happening is the plant is responding to the presence of the biocontrol, EB92-1 strain, in the xylem. It’s treating it like it’s being invaded by a pathogen and it’s kind of activating its defense system,” Hopkins explained. “One way of putting it is the plant then is primed to react more quickly when a pathogen does invade.”
Listen to the full episode with Don Hopkins.
‘Making Sense of Biologicals’ is a series from AgNet West that dives into various topics with unbiased experts in the field of biologics to help the industry better understand the product category.
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