NSTC Home AMPAC

NSTC News

August 2014

UCF researchers developing plan to attack citrus greening

Photo

Keith Landry, MyFoxOrlando

These are very challenging times for Florida's citrus farmers. Experts forecast Florida will have its smallest orange crop this year in forty-nine years. Analysts say the citrus greening disease is destroying our orange groves. University of Central Florida researchers are using nano science, trying to save our oranges.

Citrus greening started killing Florida orange trees in 2005 and it's been spreading all across our state ever since. It is a huge threat to Florida's nine billion dollar citrus industry.

See the original article from MyFoxOrlando.

“Once the trees are confirmed infected, then those trees will die eventually,” said Dr. Swadeshmukul Santra. He runs the Santra Research Group at UCF's Nano Science Technology Center. His research team is working in UCF labs, trying to use tiny science to stop two huge problems. They are citrus canker and citrus greening.

Dr. Santra says they have to win this battle within three to five years. He adds, “The reason is about 95 to 98 percent of the groves in Florida have been infected by greening.“

The team creates formulas to kill the bacteria which cause citrus greening and citrus canker. They use nano science to design particles so small that they are the size of basic proteins, and they can move through the tissue of the orange tree attacking the citrus greening bacteria.

Dr. Santra talked about their strategy. “So any therapies that we would like to design have to work systemically, that is from within.”

Mikaeel Young has been working with Dr. Santra for three years, trying to perfect the best combination of bacteria attacking formulas.

Young explains, “Some are metallic based materials that you could use to kill the species. Some are organic based, so they rupture the cell membrane of the bacteria. Some are a combination of multiple mechanisms.”

Dr. Santra tells FOX 35 News if everything goes well in the laboratories, the products to kill citrus greening and citrus canker could be available in commercial markets within two to three years.

UCF NanoScience Technology Center | Research Pavilion 4th Floor | TEL: 407-882-1578 FAX: 407-882-2819 | 12424 Research Parkway Suite 400 Orlando, FL 32826 | nano@ucf.edu
Advanced Materials Processing and Analysis Center