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Citrus Greening Causes Removal Of 150 UF Trees

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UF workers must remove close to 150 citrus trees on campus within the next two weeks due to a highly contagious bacterium that causes citrus greening.

UF is one of the latest places to be hit by citrus greening in Florida. The disease has already cost Florida’s economy more than $3.6 billion and 6,600 jobs, according to a 2012 study by researchers from the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

Eric Triplett, chairperson of the UF Department of Microbiology and Cell Science, said all but two or three of the trees will be removed. The saved ones will be kept for researching ways to battle citrus greening.

Click to view a map of all of the citrus trees being removed from UF’s campus.

Huanglongbing threatens the citrus trees being studied by UF’s Horticultural Sciences Department.

“I think that they decided the removal would stave off the destruction of horticultural plants,” Triplett said.

The disease was discovered on campus during the spring of 2012 when UF students Jennie Fagen and Connor McCullough needed data for research on a disease called huanglongbing.

Fagen and McCullough looked no further than the trees on campus. They tested six trees – three of them tested positive for the disease. They reported it to the department of microbiology then, but no immediate action was taken.

This past Wednesday, a committee including members from the UF Physical Plant, UF Horticultural Sciences Department, UF Department of Microbiology & Cell Science, and UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences met to decide what action should be taken.

They came up with two options – either use of a monthly antibiotic spray or remove and dispose of the infected trees.

On Friday, Donna Bloomfield, the supervisor of grounds and operations at UF, said that the spray was too expensive, so the committee decided to start an emergency removal of the affected citrus trees on campus.

WCA Waste Corporation (WCA) will be in charge of disposing the removed citrus trees to prevent spreading the disease.

About Kéran Billaud

Keran is a reporter who can be contacted by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

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