UF Researchers Discover Plant Root Defense Chemical

Researcher in the University of Florida’s Citrus Research and Education Center have discovered a natural compound called pregeijerene, which, when released by plants in response to a root attack, attracts wormy nematodes to attack the pests.

The chemical is useful in a variety of agricultural habitats, as researchers in Florida citrus groves and a blueberry field in New Jersey both found that the chemical controlled pest larvae up to three times more effectively than without it.

Study author Larry Duncan said in a press release that citrus spraying to control Asian citrus psyllids, which also helps to control root pests, will not be sustainable in the long term, so researchers and farmers will eventually need to address the problem directly, and pregeijerene could be the answer, helping to protect crops in many parts of the country.

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