University of Florida awarded $16M to fight citrus greening

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University of Florida awarded $16M to fight citrus greening

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences faculty (UF/IFAS) has been granted $16 million in research grants to combat the citrus greening disease that threatens the Florida citrus industry. 

The funding was awarded by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture Emergency Citrus Disease Research and Extension (ECDRE) program, and will be spread out over eight projects, five of which are funded at $1 million or more and run from two to five years.

“UF/IFAS is gratified by the confidence USDA NIFA is investing in us with these grants. It’s a demonstration of the leading role UF/IFAS plays, and must continue to play, in addressing the most pressing challenges facing the citrus industry,” said J. Scott Angle, UF senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources and leader of UF/IFAS.

The largest grant, awarded to Nian Wang, professor of microbiology and cell science, for nearly $8.6 million, supports the development and delivery of HLB disease management approaches. This project was also approved as a USDA NIFA Center of Excellence and was reviewed as outstanding.  

UF/ IFAS entomologists Kirsten Pelz-Stelinski and Lukasz Stelinski will work on two separate projects.  Pelz-Stelinki will work to provide a reliable, insect cell culture-based method for culturing of CLas bacteria, using a novel insect cell line approach.   

Another project tackles the challenging task of gathering and organizing the vast amounts of research findings available to growers by developing tools for citrus industry stakeholders, the HLB-research community and research organization administrators. 

Outcomes of this national effort led by Associate Professor Megan Dewdney of the UF/IFAS Citrus Research and Education Center, will be a database for stakeholders to access critical information about research findings and high-quality Extension products from existing and future knowledge sources.

ECDRE is designed to help develop and provide solutions to U.S. citrus growers, who have long struggled with the disease.

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