With the threat of citrus greening - commonly referred to as HLB - more real than ever, news of Dr. Nian Wang and Dr. Sheo Shanker Pandey's method to identify the disease as soon as two days after transmission has broad implications for the industry, with the likelihood of an HLB detection kit to be rolled out a real possibility for citrus growers, says Wang.
Explaining how the early detection method works, Wang explains that the researchers applied Coomassie blue staining ink to psyllid feeding sites on citrus trees' leaves.
By staining these sites, they could detect whether pathogens had been transmitted to these sites.
This makes for much faster diagnosis than traditional HLB detection methods, which are based on symptom observation. He adds that the traditional method "takes at least several months after psyllid transmission of the pathogen".
Moreover, he notes that "psyllids will be able to transmit the HLB pathogen before symptoms appear".
When it comes to this scientific development being adopted in the fields, Wang says: "It can be easily adapted for HLB diagnosis. I expect some HLB detection kit to be developed soon based on our findings."
According to him, the creation of these kits could be handled in one of two different ways: "Enough information is described in the [research] paper for companies to develop HLB diagnosis kit if any company is interested. If not, we can further develop such a kit to be used for onsite HLB diagnosis"
He emphasizes how widespread use of this early detection method could impact the citrus industry.
"This targeted early detection of ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’ before HLB symptom expression allows regulatory agencies to conduct early diagnoses of HLB in California and other non–HLB-endemic regions."