Biotech Updates

Researchers Discover Citrus Greening Affects Roots First

May 7, 2014

Researchers from the University of Florida (UF) have discovered that citrus greening attacks plant roots long before the leaves show signs of damage. Evan Johnson, a research assistant scientist with UF's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, said "The role of root infection by insect-carried bacterial pathogens has been greatly underestimated."

Citrus greening enters the tree when the insect Asian citrus psyllid sucks on leaf sap and leaves behind bacteria that spread through the tree. According to Johnson, the bacteria travel quickly to the roots, where they replicate, damage the root system and spread to the rest of the host tree's canopy. Although it was originally thought that the leaves and fruit were affected first, the team's research found that greening causes a loss of 30 to 50 percent of trees' fibrous roots before symptoms are visible above ground.

Experts say the research is a significant development in the fight against citrus greening, and though it is not a cure, it may help more trees survive as scientists continue their research.

For more about this research, read