result in the development of a test to identify treesinfected with the disease before visual symptomsemerge, speeding the time to their removal fromthe orchard.
Emphasize to growers the importance of removal of infected trees in groves, and encourage homeowners to remove backyard citrus trees,especially infected trees
Citrus growers need a better understandingof the critical importance of rapid detection andremoval of affected trees for mitigation of citrusgreening. Training programs should be used toteach scouting and detection methods. The newsmedia and internet should be used to informhomeowners in Florida about the role of backyardcitrus and ornamental relatives of citrus (such asOrange Jasmine or
) in spreading thedisease. Regulations enforcing the removal of citrus trees from residential property would bevery dif
cult to enforce; homeowners must beencouraged to plant citrus substitutes voluntarily.
Near-, Intermediate- and Long-term Strategies
In addition to its highest priorities, thecommittee recommends starting work onnumerous research directions with near-, interme-diate-, and long-term outcomes. First, in order todevelop citrus cultivars resistant to the disease—a potentially lengthy process—the search shouldbegin now for molecules that can make citrusplants resistant to the bacteria and the insect.recommends integrating new research approacheswith management efforts to maximize insecticideeffectiveness while minimizing risks. Such newresearch includes monitoring
uctuations in levelsof psyllid populations over the course of a year,studying psyllid behavior to understand how theyacquire and transmit the bacteria, testing newinsecticide ingredients, and experimenting withthe timing of insecticide applications relative to theappearance of “
ush”, the new growth on citrustrees favored by psyllids.
Support the search for biomarkers for early detection of disease
To limit the spread of disease, infected treesare removed to reduce the pool of infected treesfor psyllids to feed on. Infected trees are visuallyidenti
ed by the mottled leaves and yellow shootswhich are symptomatic of citrus greening, andlaboratory tests are used to con
rm the diagnosis.However, visual identi
cation can sometimesmiss infected trees—visible symptoms can takemonths or even years to emerge, and trees thatwere mature when infected often display onlymild symptoms. If infected trees could be identi-
ed and removed sooner than visual scoutingallows, the spread of citrus greening would besigni
cantly reduced. Biomarkers are chemicalsignals such as tree volatiles or protein levels thatchange in response to a speci
c biological event,such as infection with citrus greening. Researchto identify the biomarkers for citrus greening could
Asian Citrus Psyllids
A pest of citrus and close relatives of citrus, Asian citrus psyllids damage citrusplants through their feeding activities—theinsects extract a large amount of sap asthey feed, and produce honeydew, a clear,sticky secretion that coats the leaves of thecitrus plant and encourages a sooty mold togrow. Psyllids also inject a salivary toxininto the leaves as they feed, which preventsleaves from expanding properly. New shootgrowth that is infested with psyllids cannotdevelop properly, and is susceptible tobreaking off. Even more serious than thisdirect damage, psyllids spread the bacte-rium that causes the citrus greeninginfection, picking it up by feeding oninfected citrus plants, and passing it onwhen they move on for their next meal.Asian citrus psyllids are native to Asiabut are now found in many countries. Inthe United States, psyllids
rst appeared inFlorida in 1998. The insects were acciden-tally spread to Texas in 2001 on citrusnursery stock imported from Florida.Asian citrus psyllids are fed upon by manytypes of predators, including spiders,lacewings, and their primary predator, thecocconellid beetle, or ladybug; however,these predators are not effective inreducing the spread of citrus greening.
Photos by David Hall, USDA-ARS (
)Michael Rogers, UF-CREC (