The Asian citrus psyllid is an invasive insect that spreads the dreaded citrus greening disease. Florida’s citrus industry has taken a beating in recent years thanks to the work of this destructive insect. However, new research from the Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI), the University of Washington, as well as the United States Department of Agriculture’s Research Service, shows that this devastating invasive insect may offer some benefits that researchers have not discovered until now.
The previously unknown bacteria that is responsible for transmitting the bacteria that causes citrus greening disease may not be a “bad” bacteria in itself. When the psyllid infects citrus crops it undergoes a dramatic change in its metabolism and overall physiological functions. Being able to gain a better understanding of how this insect’s metabolism works is essential to understanding how the psyllid is able to produce these harmful toxins. The existence of organisms like the psyllid raises the question as to which came first the citrus plant? Or the citrus psyllid? This is a question that even the brightest of scientists admit is still a mystery.
Have you ever known someone who ran into economic hardship as a result of citrus greening?