Spanish and Portuguese experts analyze possibilities to prevent entry of HLB
The Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Sustainable Development hosted the international HLB seminar as part of the LIFE Vida for Citrus project. The event, which ended today, brought together experts from Spain and Portugal.
The project was born with the aim of protecting the citrus fruit sector by developing plants resistant to the HLB disease, by implementing cultivation practices that respect the environment that limit the development of the vector that transmits the disease, and by reducing the carbon footprint of the sector, thus helping to fight climate change
Huanglongbing, also known as citrus greening or HLB, is the deadliest disease in citrus. It is caused by bacteria from the Candidatus liberibacter species and kills trees soon after infection. This bacteria is dispersed by the Diaphorina citri and Trioza erytreae vector insects. The latter has already been detected in the Iberian Peninsula, more precisely in Galicia, Asturias, Cantabria and the Basque Country. In Portugal, its presence has already been detected in a municipality in the Algarve. This new detection shows that the insect has strongly progressed towards the south east very close to the province of Huelva, one of the main citrus-growing regions of Andalusia.
LIFE Vida for Citrus seeks to establish preventive measures and lines of work against a possible arrival of HLB and its vectors in Spain. The objectives of the project consist in particular in testing rootstocks tolerant to this pathogen in order to evaluate their adaptation to the growing conditions of the country. These tests are developed at the Ifapa de las Torres Center, located in Alcala del Rio (Seville).
Another goal is to contribute to the early diagnosis of the disease by developing rapid diagnostic kits for commercialization, sources from Junta de Andalucia said.
Other objectives include the development of techniques to carry out effective vector control of the disease, the promotion of international cooperation and the involvement of peripheral regions of the EU in this control, and the creation of a reproducible model of agricultural practices for the prevention of the arrival of the vector and disease.