New California lab seeks cure to deadly citrus disease

September 26, 2019 - 12:47 pm

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (AP) — California is opening a new front in the battle against a disease that has decimated citrus groves across the world and looms as a threat to the state's orange crop.

California citrus growers and packers and the University of California, Riverside on Thursday marked the opening of an $8 million lab to research the disease known as Huanglongbing in a secure environment.

Until now, researchers haven't been able to take a close look at the disease in California because of measures aimed at preventing contagion.

Growers say they hope the Biosafety Level-3 lab will speed up the search for a cure. For now, they are protecting crops by covering fruit during transit to prevent insects from carrying the tree-killing bacteria through the state.

Huanglongbing was detected more than a decade ago in Florida.