BioFlora Gets Stunning Results in Field Trials of HLB Infected Trees
By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor
The Asian Citrus Psyllid vectors huanglongbing or HLB. The psyllid feeds on the leaves of the citrus tree, and the HLB bacteria is inoculated into the tree’s phloem. As the bacteria multiples, it clogs the phloem, and the tree slowly dies.
BioFlora, a company based in Goodyear, Ariz., has developed a unique citrus program that is getting stunning results from field trials conducted on HLB infected trees. In collaboration with the University of Arizona Medical Center and Texas A&M Agrilife, conducted a three-year study on grapefruit trees, the most susceptible citrus species. Initial greenhouse trials were conducted at the USDA-ARS in Fort Pierce, Florida, and field trials were performed at Texas A&M Agrilife in Weslaco, Texas.
“Over a three-year study on HLB, we were amazed at the results from the programs that we initiated. These programs appeared to have a multirole synergistic effect against HLB. Diversity was the hallmark of our programs.” said Srinivas Makam, Ph.D., Molecular and Microbiologist for BioFlora’s Integrated Life Science Research Center.
“We established four different BioFlora programs used in the study. Each program consisted of isolates of beneficial bacteria, biostimulants, and nutrition (including macro and micro-elements). All four programs showed beneficial yield and fruit quality, but one program (program #2) had the most dramatic effect against HLB,” said Makam.
“Studying HLB at the genetic level provided us with a tremendous amount of information on how HLB functions inside the phloem of the plant. The overall results gave us a greater understanding of plant defense mechanisms. Those plant defense mechanisms helped the tree recover from the HLB infection,” Makam explained.
Leaf samples were scanned at the molecular level using electron microscopy technology. Researchers detected no Liberibacter in program #2. “The plant’s defense mechanisms were activated to fight the HLB infection,” he said.
“We outsmarted the Liberibacter in enabling systemic resistance, induced or acquired, by flushing the Liberibacter from the phloem. There were overlapping pathways on how this flushing occurred. We don’t know if it was systemic acquired resistance (SAR) or induced systemic resistance (ISR). Additional research is required,” Makam explained. “Our programs enhance the plant’s physiological processes to offset losses against yield and quality.”
“We enhanced the plant’s immune system significantly through timely fertilizer programs that stimulate the plant’s defense mechanisms,” said Makam.
“It is important for the grower to follow the citrus program monthly,” said Makam.
“Currently, BioFlora has a lemon orchard trial in Lake County, Florida, about to be pushed out due to HLB. Within five or six months, HLB infected trees wholly recovered,” noted Makam.
The Lake County lemon grower, whose grove experienced the turnaround, noted that he could see trees with much more significant growth after just five months. “Leaf drop stopped immediately after the program was initiated, and the trees had good color and are growing vigorously. I can see an improvement from month to month,” the grower said.
BioFlora believes in the partnership between plants and soils, transforming plant health with cutting-edge bio-stimulants that fight diseases, nutrient deficiencies, and unproductive soils.
Citrus tree health and nutrition has been the focus of the HLB trial. BioFlora programs bring organic and sustainable solutions that growers can implement immediately in the fight against HLB infections.