U.S. Sugar Announces Exciting Progress in Partnership with Texas A&M AgriLife Research to Expedite Testing Time of Research in Fighting Citrus Greening and Other Unculturable Pathogens

Clewiston, FL – U.S. Sugar, in a partnership with Texas A&M AgriLife Research, today announced a significant step forward in research efforts fighting diseases impacting food crops, including citrus greening. Early-stage research has demonstrated promise in rapidly-culturing and propagating fastidious pathogens and microbes including those that cause citrus greening, a disease that has devastated the Florida citrus industry, and enabling testing a broad range of antimicrobial solutions.

“This cutting edge research allows us to more efficiently and cost-effectively find a workable defense against fastidious pathogens and microbes like citrus greening in Florida,” said Dan Casper, President of Southern Gardens Citrus, a wholly-owned subsidiary of U.S. Sugar. “We look forward to continuing work with AgriLife Research’s scientists with the goal of bringing an effective product to market one day soon.”

Led by Dr. Kranthi Mandadi at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research Center in Weslaco, Texas, the continuing research using this patent-pending invention is focused on developing and utilizing a versatile microbial hairy root-based system to cultivate pathogens that are otherwise very difficult to culture and study.

This system affords researchers and industry opportunities for much faster (four times or greater) screening. The platform is versatile and can be utilized to screen antimicrobials based on various strategies, which include but not limited to testing:

  • Transgenic methods
  • Gene editing methods
  • RNAi molecules
  • Antibiotics and active ingredients
  • Other plant protection compounds and biologicals

Conventional screening methods in citrus typically take 1 to 2 years for screening chemistries and several years for transgenics and gene editing trials. These slow, conventional methods delay, impair, and prevent R&D from reaching commercial viability. Most of these strategies and potential therapies can now be screened in a much higher throughput and timely manner by utilizing Texas A&M AgriLife Research’s microbial hairy root platform.

U.S. Sugar continues to develop other solutions with Texas A&M AgriLife Research and other research organizations that may be helpful in the fight against citrus greening. These research solutions to citrus greening have been advancing on several tracks–including Genetically Engineered (GE) field trials, a permanent but longer-range solution, and several shorter-term solutions including CTVvv. Like GE, CTVvv involves introducing spinach defensins or proteins to help fight citrus greening in trees without genetically modifying the tree.

If you are interested in learning more about this technology, please contact Tim Eyrich, at 863-902-4304 or teyrich@southerngardens.com.

About Southern Gardens Citrus

Southern Gardens Citrus is a leading provider of natural, pure, premium Florida orange juice for both popular brands and private labels. In addition to growing and processing our own oranges, we also process oranges from independent growers in South Florida. We can produce up to 90 million gallons annually, making us one of the largest suppliers of pure Florida orange juice nationwide.

About U.S. Sugar

U.S. Sugar is a Florida farming company that grows sugarcane, citrus, sweet corn and green breans. The company was founded in 1931 by a visionary leader who hailed from a long line of farmers. Since the beginning, our company’s success has been rooted in traditional farming values, respect for the land and continued investment in technology and innovation.

About Texas A&M AgriLife Research

Texas A&M AgriLife Research is the state’s premier research and technology development agency in agriculture, natural resources, and the life sciences. Headquartered in College Station, AgriLife Research has a statewide presence, with scientists and research staff on other Texas A&M University System campuses and at the 13 regional Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Centers. AgriLife Research helps to improve the productivity, efficiency, and profitability of agriculture. At the same time, we focus on conserving natural resources and protecting the environment. Web: AgriLifeResearch.tamu.edu .

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