The rapid and unabated spread of vector-borne diseases within US specialty crops threatens our agriculture, our economy, and the livelihood of growers and farm workers. Early detection of vector-borne pathogens is an essential step for the accurate surveillance and management of vector-borne diseases of specialty crops. Currently, we lack the tools that would detect the infectious agent at early (primary) stages of infection with a high degree of sensitivity and specificity. In this paper, we outline a strategy for developing an integrated suite of platform technologies to enable rapid, early disease detection and diagnosis of huanglongbing (HLB), the most destructive citrus disease. The research has two anticipated outcomes: i) identification of very early, disease-specific biomarkers using a knowledge base of translational genomic information on host and pathogen responses associated with early (asymptomatic) disease development; and ii) development and deployment of novel sensors that capture these and other related biomarkers and aid in presymptomatic disease detection. By combining these two distinct approaches, it should be possible to identify and defend the crop by interdicting pathogen spread prior to the rapid expansion phase of the disease. We believe that similar strategies can also be developed for the surveillance and management of diseases affecting other economically important specialty crops.
- Immunology and Allergy