UF/IFAS Researchers Make Strides in Saving Florida Avocado Industry (Southeast Produce Weekly)

UF/IFAS Researchers Make Strides in Saving Florida Avocado Industry

As consumers commemorate National Avocado Day on July 31, the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences scientists keep a steady pace of lab and field work for the Florida avocado industry as they fight laurel wilt.

Detected in Georgia in 2002, laurel wilt’s devastating effects were observed for the first time in a Florida commercial avocado grove in 2012. Little was known about the disease and the ambrosia beetle that transmits it. “Laurel wilt is an insect-disease complex, a combination of the redbay ambrosia beetle and a pathogen, which was unprecedented for the western hemisphere at the time of discovery,” said Jonathan Crane, associate director of the Tropical Research and Education Center and an extension tropical fruit specialist for UF/IFAS.

To mitigate a novel disease has required a comprehensive approach to uncovering the layers about the beetle, the pathogen, and the disease that causes laurel wilt. Dr. Crane created an interdisciplinary project funded with a five-year, $3.4 million grant by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, that is in its final year.

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