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$4.3 Million in Research Takes Aim at Devastating Citrus Disease


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The Asian citrus psyllid, a winged insect no longer than a grain of rice.

Clemson University researchers are working on a $4.3-million study aimed at protecting citrus crops from a bacterial disease that has affected at least 10 states.

Credit: U.S. Department of Agriculture

Clemson University researchers are working on a $4.3-million study aimed at protecting citrus crops from Huanglongbing (HLB), a bacterial disease that has affected at least 10 states, including South Carolina.

The researchers will use bioinformatics to help colleagues from across the U.S. determine which citrus trees are most resistant to the disease and to develop new varieties.

The researchers will analyze data provided by collaborators to help understand the genetics underlying the disease-resistant trees by using transcriptome profiling and comparative genomics.

In addition, the researchers will rely on Clemson's Palmetto Cluster, which ranks as the world's 155th most powerful supercomputer, according to the most recent Top500 List.

"The project aims is to select naturally occurring mutants from commercial citrus cultivars under the current high HLB pressure in Florida citrus groves," says Feng Luo, a professor in Clemson's School of Computing who will lead the research. "It will allow HLB-tolerant/resistant cultivars to be developed and deployed at a much quicker pace without regulatory constraints."

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