25 March 2020

Identification of HLB-tolerant patterns in the Mediterranean climate

On March 10th, a meeting of the LIFE Vida for Citrus members was held at the ICIA facilities in Tenerife. At this meeting, the technical actions carried out to date were reviewed, as well as those related to the economic justification. 

Asaja Nacional, Asaja Valencia and Asaja Málaga are part of and captain the project.

Much of the meeting focused on the immediate scheduling of work, which must be started as soon as possible, related to the patterns and seeds to be used. 

We will work with the IFAPA pattern collection from the USA (Florida) where they are considered to have resistance or tolerance to HLB. The pre-selected patterns provided by IFAPA are: Citrange reed, Forner-Alcaide No. 5, Forner-Alcaide No. 517, Flying dragon, Citrus macrophylla, C22 Bitters, X639, US897 and US942.

Patterns from Sicily provided by the University of Catania will also be used: C54 Carpenter, C57 Furr and C35 and from Corsica, although in this case, for phytosanitary reasons, the seeds must be sown and the process will take a little longer. INRA provides the patterns Flotag alotetraploide 1, Citrandina 4x and Citrumelo 4x.

The aim is to see the resilience of these patterns in the Mediterranean climate and in different farms and soil and climate conditions, always within the scope of the LIF members, it is important to see how they respond in our climate to the rest of the climatic or edaphic characteristics, in each area or type of soil.

The aim is to find two or three patterns that meet the desired characteristics and that we can use in Europe. If the disease were to enter, we could already have good preventative work in place that could save European citrus farming from serious environmental and economic problems.

The acclimatization of pests and diseases in today’s citrus industry is an everyday occurrence. The serious problem and the millions of losses caused by HLB in other countries are well known. The situation in Florida is catastrophic.

On the other hand and as an example, CBS (Citrus Black Spot), another quarantine pest for the EU, has been detected in Tunisia and is spreading over 2,000 hectares. This poses a clear and imminent risk of pest or disease entry into our Mediterranean conditions. 

Trioza eritreae, the HLB vector can live a long time in cold conditions and move freely e.g. in a refrigerated truck.

In Italy they are now going through a serious problem with the tristeza virus (it happened last century in Spain) which forces to replace all the citriculture with resistant patterns…

We must find a solution for our Mediterranean areas for HLB, in the new conditions marked by climate change.

Also on March 11, the first training day was held at ICIA’s facilities in Valle Guerra, where the presentations made by the project members were presented and discussed. The training focused on vector identification, monitoring and control, cultural practices, cover and hedge management, and production, soil health and fertilization.

We also visited ICIA’s central laboratory where we shared questions and comments with ICIA’s researchers on HLB and on the vectors, Trioza and Diaphorina.

We finish the training day at mid-afternoon already in the farm, with review and comments in situ, in the demonstration plot that is being prepared, as well as in the hedges and nest farms that ICIA has enabled. Also in the breeding laboratory of Tamarixia, ICIA explained us step by step the procedure they follow for this.


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