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  • Author or Editor: Randall Driggers x
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The U.S. Department of Agriculture citrus scion breeding program is urgently working on developing huanglongbing (HLB; pathogen Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus)-tolerant cultivars with excellent fruit quality and productivity when HLB-affected. The slow process of assessing new citrus hybrids is a major impediment to delivery of these much-needed cultivars. We generate thousands of hybrids each year, germinate the seedlings, grow them for 2 years in the greenhouse, plant them at high density in a field where the disease HLB is abundant, grow them for 5 to 10 years, and make selections based on tree performance and fruit quality of these HLB-affected trees. Based on promising reports of accelerated citrus growth when grown in a metallized reflective mulch (MRM) system, we tested the hypothesis that the MRM system may accelerate growth and selection of new hybrid seedlings compared with conventional soil culture (CSC). In the MRM system, tree rows are covered with a layer of metallized plastic film and drip irrigation is installed beneath the plastic. In 2 years of analysis, tree canopy volume was significantly greater with MRM in 2020 (27% greater than CSC) but not in 2021, and MRM tree height was greater in 2021 (7% greater than CSC). Mortality was significantly greater with MRM in both 2020 and 2021(in 2021: 32% vs. 17% under CSC), and MRM trees had more chlorotic leaves. Because of staff limitations, plant debris and soil were not routinely cleared from MRM, thus diminishing any benefit from the reflective surface. Better maintenance might have resulted in more sustained evidence of MRM growth benefits. With the current resource availability, the MRM system does not appear to accelerate the assessment of hybrid seedling trees.

Open Access

A test population consisting of progenies of 92 seed-source genotypes (hereafter called “parent genotypes”) of Citrus and Citrus relatives in the field in east–central Florida was assessed after natural freeze events in the winters of 2010 and 2011. Eight seedlings per parent genotype were planted in a randomized complete block design; however, as a result of mortality, the number of plants assessed in some genotype groups was reduced at some or all sampling dates. The citrus diseases huanglongbing and citrus canker were endemic in the planting and may have influenced tree response to cold temperatures. Unusually low temperatures (near –4 °C each winter) for east–central Florida were experienced during the trial period. Defoliation and dieback were significantly greater in the winter of 2011 than in the winter of 2010. The winter in 2011 was preceded by a period of extraordinarily low temperatures in mid-December with no period of cool temperatures to allow trees to acclimate. In 2010 the average defoliation was 53% ± 28% and less than 13% of the trees exhibited any noticeable dieback, whereas in 2011, the average defoliation and dieback were 93% ± 17% and 51% ± 35%, respectively. Within the genus Citrus, several progenies were identified that had 16% to 24% dieback in 2011 and these were from parent genotypes C. reticulata (CRC 2590) (23%), C. sinensis (CRC 3858) (24%), C. maxima (CRC 3945) (16%), C. hassaku (CRC 3907 and 3942) (16% and 17%), C. aurantium (CRC 628 and 2717) (18% and 7%), C. taiwanica (CRC 2588) (21%), and C. neo-aurantium (C. obovoidea + C. unshiu graft chimera) (CRC 3816) (23%). Within other genera in the Aurantiodeae, Poncirus trifoliata (CRCs 301, 3957, 3549, and 4007), Severinia buxifolia (CRC 1497), Bergera koenigii (CRC 3165), and Glycosmis pentaphylla (CRC 3285) had the least amount of dieback, all at less than 23%. The two species within the Toddalioideae subfamily of the Rutaceae (Casimiroa edulis and Zanthoxylum ailanthoides) had among the least amount of dieback (1% and 8%, respectively). When considered by groups, the Citrons and Australian natives had the greatest amount of dieback in 2011, 68% and 65%, respectively. The trifoliates (Poncirus and hybrids) had the least dieback, ranging from 4% to 40%. The information from this study may be useful in germplasm enhancement and Citrus breeding targeting greater cold tolerance.

Free access

Xanthomonas citri ssp. citri (Xcc) is the causal agent of Asiatic citrus canker (ACC), a commercially important disease in Florida citrus as well as in many other regions. In this study we evaluated occurrence of foliar lesions from ACC on progenies of 94 seed-source genotypes (hereafter called “parent genotypes”) of Citrus and Citrus relatives in the field in east–central Florida to identify the relative susceptibility to ACC. Eight seedlings per parent genotype were planted in a randomized complete block planting, but the number of plants assessed in some genotype groups was reduced by mortality at some or all sampling dates. Plants experienced ambient exposure to high Xcc inoculum pressure and plants were assessed in Sept. 2010, July 2011, Oct. 2011, May 2012, and Sept. 2012. The incidence and severity of ACC lesions were assessed and evaluated using non-parametric analyses to compare progeny from the 94 parent genotypes. Progeny of 14 parent genotypes did not exhibit ACC symptoms at any date. All were in genera other than Citrus with only Microcitrus and Eremocitrus being cross-compatible with Citrus. The kumquat hybrid C. halimii, two accessions of C. reticulata, C. nobilis, and C. sunki were the only Citrus species in the group that had a low severity (percent total leaf area showing symptoms) on each date of assessment. The aforementioned accessions had an average incidence and severity of ACC lesions of less than 4% in 2011 and 2012, but 26% to 38% in 2010 when no chemical control for ACC was applied in the adjoining citrus groves at our field site. Fourteen of the 16 progeny of C. reticulata and related parent genotypes were in the group with the lowest incidence and severity of ACC on two or more assessment dates. However, for analysis of only the most symptomatic leaves on each plant, 10 C. reticulata parent genotype progenies were in the most resistant category on the Sept. 2012 assessment despite having a low incidence and severity of ACC symptoms overall. Progeny of Poncirus and its hybrids as well as those of C. maxima, C. limon, and related species were the most severely diseased at all assessment dates. There were few instances in which progeny of different accessions of the same species had markedly different responses to ACC: progeny of C. reticulata ‘Fremont’ displayed more severe ACC compared with several other C. reticulata groups and C. aurantium ‘Zhuluan’ displayed much lower incidence and severity of ACC compared with several other accessions designated C. aurantium. Information on ACC susceptibility in diverse Citrus and Citrus relatives may prove useful for breeding programs aimed at reducing ACC susceptibility and will be of value to researchers interested in mechanisms of ACC resistance and susceptibility.

Free access