Vital Citrus Research Gets $45 Million Boost From USDA

The push to save citrus from pest and disease pressure continues as a total of $45 million in funding for research during the 2020-2021 fiscal year was awarded by the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Emergency Citrus Disease Research and Extension (ECDRE) Program.


With funding support from the Citrus Research Board, Pepsi Co., Coca-Cola, and a consortium led by the Citrus Research and Development Foundation (CRDF), NIFA awarded a $10 million grant for their on-going coordinated agricultural project with Bayer CropScience. The project seeks to identify and develop therapeutics for HLB and the presumed HLB pathogen Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus (CLas). Researchers are investigating synthetic and microbial therapeutics for further characterization and optimization, intending to develop therapeutics for commercialization.

For the 2020 fiscal year, the ECDRE program selected 12 projects to receive awards.

The awardees include:

  • The Regents of University of California, Riverside, for the project, “Novel, Non-Transgenic, Hybrid Citrus Varieties with Resistance to Huanglongbing: Evaluation and Cultivar Development” ($4,670,000)
  • University of California, Davis, for the project, “VIGS-Driven RNAI using Insect Specific Viruses to Manipulate Psyllids and their Endosymbionts as a Strategy to Control Citrus Greening/HLB” ($1,411,605)
  • University of California, Riverside, for the project, “CAP: Combining Cultural and Genetic Approaches for Grove Success to Unravel and Enhance Resistance/Tolerance to Huanglongbing” ($6,500,000)
  • Yale University, New Haven, CT, for the project, “SP: Identification of HLB Susceptibility Genes in a Citrus Population Generated using Multiplexed CRISPR/CAS9 Gene Editing” ($1,497,644)
  • CRDF, for the project, “CAP Collaborative Approach Between Academics, Growers and Agrochemical Industry to Discover, Develop and Commercialize Therapies for Citrus Huanglongbing (HLB)” ($10,071,000)
  • University of Florida, for the project, “SP: Optimal BT Toxins and Gene Silencing RNAs for Management of Asian Citrus Psyllid to Mitigate the Impact of Citrus Greening” ($1,480,456)
  • University of Florida, Gainesville, for the project, “SP: A Novel Therapeutic Strategy for HLB-Infected Trees” ($1,473,890)
  • University of Florida, Gainesville, for the project, “SP-Unraveling Candidatus Liberibacter Asiaticus-Phloem Interactions using Isolated Vasculature from Seed Coats” ($1,496,707)
  • University of Maryland, for the project, “Phloem Targeted Multiplexed Gene Editing for Enhanced Control of Huanglongbing in Citrus” ($942,906)
  • University of Maryland, for the project, “SP: Phloem-Restricted, Independently Mobile RNA Gene Silencing System for Mitigating Citrus Greening by Targeting Liberibacter Asiaticus and Citrus Gene Expression” ($1,500,000)
  • USDA-ARS, Genetics and Precision Agriculture Unit, Mississippi State, for the project, “CAP: Therapeutic Molecule Evaluation and Field Delivery Pipeline for Solutions to HLB” ($9,380,000)
  • NMC, Inc., Los Alamos, NM, for the project, “Providing Practical Solutions for HLB Treatment and Prevention” ($4,759,531)

Click here to learn more about these projects in detail.