Brazilian researchers focus on citrus black spot disease
Brazilian researchers have developed a genetically modified form of the fungus that causes black spot citrus disease that will allow them to better track the illness, according to a statement on the University of Sao Paolo’s website.
The modified form of the fungus Guignardia citricarpa, developed by agricultural engineer Maria Beatriz Calderan Rodrigues and Professor Kleiner Aline Aparecida Pizzirani, has fluorescent properties when exposed to ultraviolet light. This will allow scientists to more accurately detect the symptoms of the disease, characterized by black spots on fruit and the bark of trees. It also causes premature fruit drop.
Calderan Rodrigues says the next step is to test the modified fungus in the field or in a greenhouse. The initial results were observed in a laboratory, the statement said.
Black spot disease is common in Brazil and hampers its citrus industry because its fruit cannot be exported to the United States and the European Union, the statement said. It was discovered in Florida earlier this year.
Researchers hope that being able to track the fungus will lead to preventing its spread and reducing the costs of fungicide. Now, fungicide is applied to plants from the flowering stage through harvest, the statement said.
Photo: Florida Department of Agriculture