Major pest-related diseases will be hot topics at research meeting

SOUTH PADRE ISLAND – Two diseases wreaking havoc in the citrus and potato industries will get a closer examination April 16-17 at the 52nd annual meeting of the Caribbean Division of the American Phytopathological Society in South Padre Island, according to a Texas AgriLife Extension Service specialist.

While zebra chip disease of potatoes and citrus Huanglongbing, or citrus greening, are hot topics at this time, Dr. Ron French, AgriLife Extension plant pathology specialist and president of the Caribbean Division of the society, said scientists from the U.S., Caribbean, Mexico and beyond will gather for the two days to discuss the latest research on plant diseases of tropical and non-tropical crops.

The meeting will be held in the Pearl South Padre Hotel and registration may be made on-site for $175 for the two-day meeting or $115 for only one day of the meeting, French said. Registration will be open from 5-7 p.m. on April 15 and again from 7-9 a.m. on April 16-17.

“Texas has been dealing with zebra chip since 2000, and citrus greening disease was detected this year in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas and Los Angeles County, Ca. but was detected in 2005 in Florida,” he said.

The symposium on Candidatus Liberibacter of solanaceous and citrus crops will feature overviews by Dr. Charlie Rush, Texas AgriLife Research plant pathologist of Amarillo, who leads a major zebra chip research initiative, and Dr. John da Graca, director of the Texas A&M-Kingsville Citrus Center.

Presentations by both pathologists and entomologists will include genus specific detection, potential for insecticide resistance, risk mitigation, quarantine implications and others on April 16. Graduate students from Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and Mexico will give presentations in the afternoon session on diseases that affect citrus, rice, tomatoes, rambutan, turf, cotton and corn.

On April 17, the focus shifts to other plant diseases, including those found in wine grapes, Texas Phoenix palm, cilantro, landscape plants and rice, French said.

“This program is open to scientists, graduate students, industry leaders and growers alike,” he said. “We hope that we can get folks around the Rio Grande Valley to take advantage of both days of meetings, but if they are just interested in the symposium on Candidatus Liberibacter of solanaceous crops, there will be a fee of $75 to attend only that portion.”

A tentative program for the meeting is available at .

For information on zebra chip, go to: For information on Huanglongbing, go to:

For more information on the symposium and the society meeting, contact French at 806-677-5600 or


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