Professor of Cell Genetics
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
Jude Grosser is helping Florida’s citrus industry fight canker – by studying rice.
Rice offers disease resistance Grosser and his colleagues are borrowing for use in citrus.
The grain has a gene that provides protection from rice bacterial blight, a disease closely related to citrus canker.
Grosser’s research team transferred the resistance gene to Hamlin orange trees. The first of these trees is being tested in a quarantine facility to determine if it can resist the most common strain of citrus canker bacteria.
If the test proves successful, the trees will be field-tested to evaluate their ability to resist canker and produce fruit in a real-world environment, Grosser says. Eventually they could become the first canker-resistant citrus variety UF makes available to growers.
“Genetics research has great potential to help the citrus industry overcome this threat,” Grosser says. “We’re confident it will happen, and we’ve got a running start, thanks to all the work that’s been done already.”
Grosser is also looking to biotechnology to help develop citrus rootstocks that are needed to improve soil adaptation, tree survivability and tree size.
Another of Grosser’s research projects focuses on developing seedless, high-quality, easy-to-eat cultivars.