The End of Orange Juice ?

Celsias

 A deadly plant disease, huanglongbing (HLB), has been spreading throughout the U.S.’s citrus groves from Florida to California over the past decade, costing farmers and others billions of dollars. Some worry it may wipe out the American orange juice industry. Although scientists are trying to slow the spread of this disease, there may not be an easy solution, Anna Kuchment writes in a feature article published in this month’s Scientific American

hlb HLB is caused by bacteria carried in the salivary glands of the Asian citrus psyllid, a gnat-size, invasive insect. As the psyllid feeds on leaves, the bacteria infiltrate the plant’s circulatory system and lead to blockages that disrupt the flow of nutrients from the leaves to the roots. As a result of this bacterial invasion, first detected in the U.S. in 2005, HLB has cost the state of Florida alone $4.54 billion and more than 8,200 jobs.

Scientists are trying various approaches to slow HLB’s spread, including importing wasps from Asia to prey on the psyllids, which has had some success in Florida and California. Yet many think the best long-term solution will be genetic engineering, and scientists have already inserted HLB-resistant genes from spinach plants into citrus trees. Some are now experimenting with genes that would repel the insects, though any genetic modification would require adequate regulatory approval and public acceptance, Kuchment notes, leading to concerns that a solution may not arrive in time to save the citrus industry in the U.S.

Add a comment
  • to get your picture next to your comment (not a member yet?).
  • Posted on Feb. 22, 2013. Listed in:

    Pledge to do these related actions

    Grow more fish, 17°

    Enhancing poorer seabed ecologies acts to promote the growth and health of fish populations.

    Start or Join a Transition Movement, 61°

    Here in the UK we have a movement called Transition Towns. It has spread to ...

    Commit to not eating any fish on the WWF's red list, 183°

    Seafood is healthy, and one of humanity's great sources of protein. If we are to ...

    Follow these related projects

    Ride to Sustain - 4000 miles of Sustainable Solutions

    Boston Massachusetts, United States

    Community Reefs

    Opotiki, New Zealand

    Featured Companies & Orgs