Brazil & US identify molecule to help fight Citrus Greening Disease

According to voanews, researchers have now identified the molecule that attracts the insect that transmits citrus greening disease. This development is expected to help farmers control a plague that has terrorized the growing regions of Brazil and the United States.

The scientific breakthrough is the result of six years of research on Diaphorina citri, the vector of citrus greening disease. The molecule was discovered by Fundo de Defesa da Citricultura (Fundecitrus), a research center sponsored by farmers and orange juice producers in Brazil, in partnership with the University of California, Davis and the University of Sao Paulo's Agricultural College.

The next step will be to synthesize the pheromone from the molecule and create a product that will work as a kind of trap to attract and neutralize the insect. Scientists hope to reduce the spread of this disease that has resulted in the destruction of almost half of Brazil's current orange tree area since 2005.

This is not a cure for greening disease, but will allow farmers to combat the insects. The first commercial solution should be available to farmers in a year. 

Brazil's main producing regions of Sao Paulo and Minas Gerais have almost 175 million fruit trees on around 415,000 hectare. Around 32 million trees are infected. Citrus greening disease is incurable; it is one of the most serious citrus plant diseases in the world. Most infected trees die within a few years.

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