PULLMAN, Wash. – Three Washington State University researchers have received a $2.1 million grant to help save the U.S. and global citrus industry. They will develop methods of growing a citrus-destroying bacteria so that strategies to fight the disease it causes can be pursued.
Huánglóngbìng, or HLB, is also called “citrus greening disease,” and it is destroying orange, grapefruit and lemon trees around the world. Scientists haven’t been able to grow and maintain cultures of the bacterium that causes the disease.
“The simple answers didn’t work and we need a way to fight this,” said biochemist David Gang, a fellow in WSU’s Insitute of Biological Chemistry.
“This disease is wiping out the citrus industry in the U.S., and in five years there may not be any citrus orchards left,” he said. “I like orange juice too much to let it go away without a fight.”