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Spanish company develops formula to battle citrus HLB

The Spanish company Cintrave, worldwide pioneer in the use of antimicrobial peptides (PAMS) to tackle pathogens in agriculture, has managed to find a solution against the disease known as Hunaglongbing (HLB) or citrus Yellow Dragon.

"Our goal has always been to provide solutions against all those diseases for which there appeared to be no cure," says Fani Fuster, Manager of Cintrave.

Cintrave's technology allows for formulas to be created from a great variety of PAMS, making broad spectrum products possible and in turn improving the grower's comfort.

Until now, only palliatives were available against HLB 
Until today, the agrochemical industry only provided products to eliminate the insect vector (Diaphorina citri); products whose mass use could be damaging for the environment. Other industrial sectors developed different palliatives, such as the release of predators for the vector or the development of more resistant plants. With the latter measure, not only was it not guaranteed that the disease would not return, but it was also very costly, especially for smaller growers.

Orange trees infected by Candidatus Liberibacter bacteria, which causes HLB, before being treated in February 2013.

The solution: attacking the bacteria responsible for the disease.
"Facing this challenge was one of our main goals when we developed the formula used to tackle vascular pathogens. Given that the Candidatus Liberibacter does not reproduce in lab conditions and that HLB has not been reported in Spain, we haven't had the chance to develop the project until this year. We carried out the experiment in the Dominican Republic, doing what no other company had done before: directly attacking the pathogen, that is, the Candidatus Liberibacter bacteria, the real cause for the disease," explains Fani Fuster.

Condition of leaves and fruit before treatment application. Typical HLB symptoms can be observed in both leaves and fruit. The fruit also contained no juice.

Curing HLB or Yellow Dragon is now possible.
Cintrave is characterised, not only for facing difficult challenges, but for doing so in the most extreme conditions. "We are aware that achieving good results in poor conditions guarantees effectiveness in any type of plantation. This is why the project has been developed in a time of drought, in plantations lacking mechanical irrigation and without any form of fertilisation or pesticide treatment. The results would of course have been far superior, visually speaking, with plants in optimal conditions for the control of the vector."

Pictures of the treated trees taken on 1 November 2013 and after the application of ESTIM-10 (BERTOR-10 in the Dominican Republic)

From the tests it was concluded that the PAMS spectrum contained in ESTIM-10 (BERTOR-10 in the Dominican Republic) sufficient to tackle the Candidatus Liberibacter bacteria, which causes HLB. "We were very confident in our product. Until now it has not failed against any vascular pathogen and we are very proud of the achievement. The hardest and most costly thing to do is always going to b to CURE, but if this can be achieved, the plantations can be kept healthy in an affordable and easy way even in areas where the vector insect is quite common."

In these pictures, taken on 3 September 2013 and after the application of ESTIM-10 (BERTOR-10 in the Dominican Republic), we can observe that the fruit from the treated tree is full of juice.

After decades working with palliatives, it seems that citriculture finally has a real solution against HLB.

For more information:
Fani Fuster
C/Seis, n.º45-Pol. Ind. L'Horta Vella
Bétera, Valencia. España
T: +34 96 070 12 96
Fax: +34 96 169 86 09

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