Università di Catania
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Preventing HLB Epidemics for Ensuring Citrus Survival in Europe
logo del progetto Pre-HLB
Horizon 2020
Call / Bando: 
Settore ERC: 
Life Sciences
Ruolo Unict: 
Durata del progetto in mesi: 
Data inizio: 
Sabato, 1 Giugno 2019
Data fine: 
Mercoledì, 31 Maggio 2023
Costo totale: 
€ 8.182.887,50
Quota Unict: 
€ 150.000,00
Agencia Estatal Consejo Superior Deinvestigaciones Cientificas - Spain
Responsabile/i per Unict: 
Alessandra Gentile
Dipartimenti e strutture coinvolte: 
Department of Agriculture, Food and Environment
Altri partner: 

Instituto Politécnico de Braganza, Portugal - Consiglio Per La Ricercha In Agricoltura E L’analisi Dell’economia Agraria, Italy - Consiglio Nazionale Delle Ricerche, Italy - Centre De Cooperation Internationale En Recherche Agronomique Pour Le Developpement - C.I.R.A.D. Epic France - Instituto Valenciano De Investigaciones Agrarias, Spain - Empresa Brasileira De Pesquisa Agropecuaria Embrapa, Brazil - The Chancellor Masters And Scholars Of The University Of Cambridge, United Kingdom - Universiteit Van Amsterdam, Netherlands - University Of Durham, United Kingdom - Hunan Agricultural University, China - Anti Microbial Peptide Biotechnologies S.L., Spain - Koppert España Sl, Spain - Martinavarro S.L., Spain - Conselleria De Agricultura, Medio Ambiente, Cambio Climático Y Desarrollo Rural, Spain - Fundecitrus, Brazil - Asociacion Valenciana De Agricultores, Spain - Zabala Innovation Consulting, S.A., Spain - Universitat Politecnica De Valencia, Spain - Valgenetics S.L., Spain - Universidade Do Algarve, Portugal - Frusoal - Frutas Sotavento Algarve, Lda, Portugal - The Agricultural Research Organisation of Israel - The Volcani Centre, Israel.


The EU citriculture is threatened by the emerging disease Huanglongbing (HLB, also known as Greening), considered the most devastating citrus disease due to its rapid dispersal, severity and fast progression of symptoms, huge losses in fruit production and quality, cost and difficulty of preventing new infections, lack of resistant citrus varieties and economically feasible treatments for infected trees, and absence of durable control mechanisms. HLB generates multimillion economic losses to citrus industry. Now it is time to start the research in the EU because the vector Trioza erytreae has been detected and is spreading in Spain and Portugal.
The overarching objective of Pre-HLB is to develop and implement a holistic contingency plan to protect the citrus sector in the EU from HLB disease drivers and to co-create new solutions to manage the disease through a multidisciplinary approach and in collaboration with experienced partners from America and Asia.
The Pre-HLB work plan includes three specific objectives to monitor progress:

  • Pre-HLB preventive actions and development of mid-term tools will limit HLB potential introduction, reducing the potential economic impact in EU (estimated in 7.7 billion euros) by 40%
  • The consortium will contribute to improve current HLB surveillance, contingency and control strategies. Up to 100,000Ha of citrus cropping area will be monitored to obtain field information on potential HLB infection and the dynamics of the vector in the subareas of highest risk, thus limiting disease/infestation spread
  • Excellent European research centres will join forces to fill research gaps in vector biology, host/vector/pathogen interactions, Aurantioideae genetics and genomics, as well as to develop new biotechnological tools, such as new effectors, metabolites, bio-stimulants and biopesticides.Results will identify HLB-resistance traits and will allow to generate long-term resistance.This is one major milestone in the field of citriculture