Improved Huanglongbing Detection in Citrus Trees

Projects Underway for Better Huanglongbing Detection in Infected Trees

 

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

 

 

The big problem with Huanglongbing Disease (HLB), also known as citrus greening, is that an infected tree, despite having no visual symptoms, could quietly be a massive reservoir of HLB. The main vector, the Asian Citrus Psyllid (ACP), could easily pick up HLB from that tree and spread the disease throughout the orchard.

Currently, the main push to contain the possible spread of HLB is by controlling ACP. Yellow sticky traps are positioned near every commercial orchard in California, as well as near non-commercial trees in neighborhoods. Finding a psyllid on a trap triggers mandatory spray programs to help eliminate all psyllids in the area.

Neil McRoberts, Huanglongbing Detection
Neil McRoberts, associate professor of plant pathology, UC Davis

“Yes, one of the most critical questions in managing in HLB is the trees can be infected for a long time before you can visually see the ACP there,” said Neil McRoberts, an associate professor of plant pathology, University of California, Davis.

“There is a group of scientists, funded by the Citrus Research Board of California (CRB), working on different early detection methods. Those are methods where you would be able to tell the tree was infected before you could see the tree is infected,” said McRoberts.

The CRB funded field trials in Texas over the last few years that have narrowed the field of competitors to two or three techniques. The CRB will continue to fund the two leading contenders in that race to determine the leading early detection technology.

In the first technique, researchers analyzed all the microbes that live on a non-infected leaf surface and studied how that profile of microbes changes when the tree gets infected. Detecting a change in microbe profile could indicate the tree is not as healthy as it should be.

“Researchers take the microbes that live on an infected tree, extract the DNA from those microbes and run the DNA through a sequencer. The sequencer identifies which types of microbes are there,” he said.

McRoberts said sampling for microbes is easy. Researchers use an industrial-sized swab on the leaf surface. “You literally clean the leaf surface with the swab until it’s squeaky clean, put that swab in a bottle and send it to a lab. When it gets to the lab, they extract the DNA out of it and the rest of the process happens from there.

ACP Nymph Tamarixia Huanglongbing
A female Tamarixia radiata laying egg on an ACP nymph. (Photo by J. Lotz). Courtesy of Citrus Research Board

In selecting which trees should undergo microbe swabbing, McRoberts noted that the ACPs tend to attack the groves from the outer edges, inwards. “At different times of the day, the light will be on different edges of the grove depending on where the sun is and how warm it is. You can target your sampling towards the places where you’re more likely to find it, but still, finding those initial little infections is tough.”

The second method is a technique called metabolic profiling. A newly infected tree starts to produce different proteins and other chemicals in response.

Still another research strategy is analyzing things that stay in the tissue. “There’s a change in the profile of metabolites in the tree. If you run those metabolites through a mass spectrometer, the mass spectrometer will spit out a profile. You can tell the difference between a healthy profile and an infected profile,” McRoberts said.

“This is how the dogs come into the picture. Everybody knows that citrus has an odor. When the trees are infected, the profile of the chemicals and the composition of that odor change. We can’t smell it, but a very sensitive electronic detector device can sometimes pick it up. Remarkably, dogs can pick it up. We think that’s what happening with the canine detectors; they’re picking up some change in the smell of the trees.”

McRoberts said that dogs are amazingly accurate in detecting trees with HLB disease. “The best that we can tell from the trials involving dogs, the false positive rate is less than 1 in 1,000. I’m very confident with the detector dogs,” McRoberts said.

 

Featured photo: Adult Asian citrus psyllid (Photo by J. Lewis). Courtesy of Citrus Research Board

Citrus Research Board of California (CRB)

UC Davis Department of Plant Pathology

ALERT: Immediate Action Needed for Thrips/TSWR

Source: Neil McRoberts

For those who have water and tomatoes:

 

Thrips numbers have increased rapidly in the southern arm of the Central Valley and Tomato spotted wilt virus (TSWV) has been reported in all of the areas we monitor,” according to Neil McRoberts, Assistant Professor, Plant Pathology Department, UC Davis.

There are numerous reports of TSWV symptoms in crops from Stanislaus County down to Fresno and Kings County particularly around the Huron area.

 

The current risk in Fresno County is high and we are recommending that growers who plan to use an insecticide program against thrips/TSWV take immediate action. The current mini heat wave will accelerate thrips development slightly and further bump up thrips numbers.

If you are planning to use an insecticide program against thrips/TSWV this season, you should target the next generation of thrips (generation 3).  If it is not possible to arrange for treatment in time to catch generation 3, target generation 4. Delaying treatment until later in the season will be much less effective at preventing damage from TSWV.  Coordinated spraying across large areas has an additional effect on thrips populations because it makes it difficult for them to avoid treatment by migrating.

Generation 3 adults are projected to peak on May 17th.  Sprays applied in the 14-day period before this peak date will check generation 3 and delay further population build-up and TSWV spread.  This means you need to take immediate action.

Generation 4 adults are projected to peak on June 11th.  Sprays applied in the 14-day period before this peak date will check generation 4 and delay further population build up and TSWV spread.  Treatment in the 14 days immediately following the generation 3 peak date will also be effective.

 

The current risk in the Merced area is high and we are recommending that growers who plan to use an insecticide program against thrips/TSWV take immediate action. The current mini heat wave will accelerate thrips development slightly and further bump up thrips numbers.

Generation 3 adults are projected to peak on May 22nd.  Sprays applied in the 14-day period before this peak date will check generation 3 and delay further population build-up and TSWV spread.

Generation 4 adults are projected to peak on June 16th.  Sprays applied in the 14-day period before this peak date will check generation 4 and delay further population build up and TSWV spread.  Treatment in the 14 days immediately following the generation 3 peak date will also be effective.

 

The current risk in eastern San Joaquin County is lower than in other southern Counties, but we think a precautionary approach is best. The current mini heat wave will accelerate thrips development slightly and further bump up thrips numbers.

If you are planning to use an insecticide program against thrips/TSWV this season, you should target the next generation of thrips (generation 3).  If it is not possible to arrange for treatment in time to catch generation 3, target generation 4. Delaying treatment until later in the season will be much less effective at preventing damage from TSWV.  Coordinated spraying across large areas has an additional effect on thrips populations because it makes it difficult for them to avoid treatment by migrating.

Generation 3 adults are projected to peak on May 28th.  Sprays applied in the 14-day period before this peak date will check generation 3 and delay further population build-up and TSWV spread.

Generation 4 adults are projected to peak on June 22nd.  Sprays applied in the 14-day period before this peak date will check generation 4 and delay further population build up and TSWV spread.

 

The current risk in Kings County is high and we are recommending that growers who plan to use an insecticide program against thrips/TSWV take immediate action. The current mini heat wave will accelerate thrips development slightly and further bump up thrips numbers.

If you are planning to use an insecticide program against thrips/TSWV this season, you should target the next generation of thrips (generation 3).  If it is not possible to arrange for treatment in time to catch generation 3, target generation 4. Delaying treatment until later in the season will be much less effective at preventing damage from TSWV.  Coordinated spraying across large areas has an additional effect on thrips populations because it makes it difficult for them to avoid treatment by migrating.

Generation 3 adults are projected to peak on May 22nd.  Sprays applied in the 14-day period before this peak date will check generation 3 and delay further population build-up and TSWV spread.  This means you need to take immediate action.

Generation 4 adults are projected to peak on June 14th.  Sprays applied in the 14-day period before this peak date will check generation 4 and delay further population build up and TSWV spread.  Treatment in the 14 days immediately following the generation 3 peak date will also be effective.

 

The current risk in western San Joaquin County is lower than in other southern counties, but we think a precautionary approach is best. The current mini heat wave will accelerate thrips development slightly and further bump up thrips numbers.

If you are planning to use an insecticide program against thrips/TSWV this season, you should target the next generation of thrips (generation 3).  If it is not possible to arrange for treatment in time to catch generation 3, target generation 4.

Delaying treatment until later in the season will be much less effective at preventing damage from TSWV.  Coordinated spraying across large areas has an additional effect on thrips populations because it makes it difficult for them to avoid treatment by migrating.

Generation 3 adults are projected to peak on May 28th.  Sprays applied in the 14-day period before this peak date will check generation 3 and delay further population build-up and TSWV spread.

Generation 4 adults are projected to peak on June 22nd.  Sprays applied in the 14-day period before this peak date will check generation 4 and delay further population build up and TSWV spread.

 

The web resource for integrated management of Western Flower Thrips and Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus in the California Central Valley contains two tools to help in disease risk management:  

A Field Risk Index tool uses simple information about field locations, land use, and agronomy to calculate a risk category for tomato crops.  This tool can be used before planting or early in the season to get a heads up about the general risk to a crop from TSWV.

A thrips population projection model, driven by degree-day accumulation at several Central Valley locations, aids in projecting when thrips generations are hatching, developing, and adult numbers are peaking.  This information is used to issue regular updates and provide broad guidelines for timing insecticide sprays to keep thrips numbers low enough to prevent TSWV from spreading.

The research behind these tools was supported by the California Tomato Research Institute (CTRI)

The model was developed in Collaboration with Dr. Len Coop of Oregon State University’s Integrated Plant Protection Center (IPPC).  The IPPC developed and hosts the USPEST web service which is a multi pest multi model tool that provides information on pest development and disease risk for the Contiguous 48 US states using a network of weather stations.