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Texas A&M-Kingsville Citrus Center receives funding from USDA for citrus therapy research

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An assistant research professor at the Texas A&M University-Kingsville Citrus Center received an award to fund research on treatment and control of the citrus greening disease.

The United States Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service awarded $349,794 to Dr. Madhura Kunta for his project “Providing Practical Solutions for Huanglongbing Treatment and Prevention.”

According to the project description, Huanglongbing (HLB) is the most severe threat to citrus industries worldwide. Because all citrus producing areas experience different levels of HLB threats and challenges, they require tools to control the causative agent, Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus (CLas) and the transmitting vector, Asian Citrus Psyllid (ACP).

The main goal of this project is to offer effective, safe and affordable HLB therapy by enhancing citrus innate immunity for rapid CLas clearance. This project will develop data related to design, efficacy testing, safety and commercialization for the next-generation citrus-derived peptides and protein chimeras with extremely high activity for treatment of infected citrus trees, prevention by transgenic HLB-resistant citrus, and blocking ACP transmission.

Kunta will collaborate with scientists from the U. S. Horticultural Research Laboratory in Florida, Colorado State University, Boyce Thompson Institute, University of California at Riverside, Rutgers University, High Desert Discovery District and New Mexico Consortium (NMC). 

“I am very happy to work in the team of eminent scientists from renowned institutions in the USA. I appreciate the funding from USDA NIFA and looking forward to contributing to the solutions for citrus HLB treatment and control,” Kunta said.

The sub-award will fund Kunta’s efforts to screen the citrus-derived peptides and transgenic citrus plants for HLB-resistance. Dr. Jong-Won Park, research scientist and Jaffer Gadiwan, a graduate student at Citrus Center will assist and participate in the project.

Category: General Univ , Ag/Env & Wildlife Sci

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