The bacterial scourge of the citrus greening disease has affected citrus production worldwide, causing tree decline and a serious threat to Florida’s citrus industry. Citrus greening disease, or Huanglongbing (HLB), is caused by Candidotus liberibacter (CLass) and is spread by a disease-infected insect, Asian citrus psyllid (Diaphorina citri Kuwayama — or ACP). The disease is transmitted through the Asian citrus psyllid’s secretion of bacteria-filled saliva onto the tree, infecting nine of every ten Florida orange trees. The disease has put the future of America’s citrus at risk with the spread of three major strains including asiaticus, americanus, and africanus.
Since its discovery in 2005, citrus production in Florida has decreased by 74% (USDA 2019a) and the number of citrus growers in Florida decreased from 7,289 in 2002 to 2,775 in 2017 (USDA 2002, 2017). An industry worth $15 billion has seen a loss of $1 billion per year, reducing farmers’ expected yields by 20 to 30%. There is no doubt that this is a concerning disease, and growers have taken extra precautions, including paying more attention to the quality of water, and accurately assessing acid and pH levels. But despite their efforts, it has taken a toll on the state’s economy.
In collaboration with the University of Florida, University of California at Riverside, USDA, Cornell University, and Agrosource, scientists at Codex DNA will participate in a recently funded grant to tackle this disease. Codex DNA’s research efforts aim to assist in therapeutic molecule discovery and optimize production scalability. In addition to scaling therapeutic molecule delivery, researchers hope to develop a regulatory approval strategy in order to execute on production as quickly as possible.
The Codex DNA team is using the Vmax™ X2 product line for developing a therapeutic molecule discovery platform. In the ongoing fight against HLB, the team will also be using genome engineering capabilities to generate synthetic therapeutic molecule delivery constructs. Codex DNA’s advanced technologies are fighting to ensure the survival of Florida citrus, but also allow researchers to continue to innovate in cancer therapies, infectious diseases, and cancer diagnostics.
To learn more about our research grants, contact us.