After six years of joint research on Diaphorina citri, researchers of Brazil’s Fundecitrus, the University of Sao Paulo’s Agricultural College (Esalq) and the University of California, Davis identified the molecule that attracts the transmission vector insect of the citrus greening disease (also known as yellow dragon desease) or HLB.
The scientific breakthrough is a development that may help farmers control a plague that has threatened the citrus industry in growing regions of Brazil and the United States. A first protective solution should be available to farmers in a year.
Up to now no cure for citrus greening disease was known, and efforts to control it have been slow because infected citrus plants are difficult to maintain, regenerate, and study.
HLB was originally thought to be a viral disease, but was later discovered to be caused by bacteria, carried by insect vectors. HLB infection can arise in various climates and is often associated with different species of psyllid insects.For example, citrus crops in Africa become infected under cool conditions as the bacteria are transmitted by the African citrus psyllid Trioza ertreae,[ an invasive insect that favors cool and moist conditions for optimal growth. Citrus crops in Asia, however, are often infected under warm conditions as the bacteria are transmitted by the Asian citrus psyllid Diaphorina citri.