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Researchers Make Breakthrough in Understanding Citrus Greening Bacteria
Posted by: Prof. Dr. M. Raupp (IP Logged)
Date: September 23, 2019 08:06AM

Researchers from Washington State University have for the first time grown
in the laboratory the bacteria that causes Citrus Greening Disease, the
world's most harmful citrus disease. The researchers were able to grow the
elusive and poorly understood bacterium, Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus
(CLas) and reported their work in the journal Biofilm. The researchers used
infected citrus tissues and developed a biofilm instead of using a rich
growth medium. This severely limited the growth of partner bacteria and
created a medium with the specific nutrients, acidity, incubation
temperatures, and oxygen levels that are optimal for CLas.

Similarly, biologists from Florida State University (FSU) were able to grow
a close relative of CLas called Liberacter cresens in the laboratory. Their
research helped them understand why the bacteria samples are difficult to
grow in the laboratory. As they ran tests, they observed that the samples
changed the environment around them and then die after doing so. They also
noticed that L. cresens grows slowly and requires careful maintenance, and
that alkaline conditions poisoned the bacteria.

Being able to grow CLas in the laboratory will make it easier for scientists
to find treatments for the disease. Citrus greening is a serious concern in
the USA. Orange production in the country has steadily dropped over the last
decade, plummeting from 7.98 million tons in the 2007 season to 2.2 million
tons in 2018. Most of these losses have occurred in Florida because of
citrus greening.


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