Applied Nanotech Holdings, Inc. (APNT) announced it has received two new contracts from the California Citrus Research Board (CRB), worth over $490,000 in total that will fund increased instrument development and testing for HLB disease in orange trees in Texas, Florida and California, with a focus on early detection.
HLB (Huanglongbing, also known as citrus greening disease) is a bacterial infection that is severely threatening citrus production worldwide; the citrus industry of Florida has been significantly impacted. Early detection of the disease is important because without it the disease spreads from tree to tree and removal of later-stage infected trees is at best a modestly effective method to contain the disease.
Greening disease (HLB) and other pathogens cause over $1 billion in lost revenue to citrus growers annually. Early detection and monitoring can not only save billions of dollars but also millions of trees while keeping fruit and juice prices from skyrocketing, contends APNT, a research and commercialization company focused on solving problems at the molecular level.
The first contract, for the continued development and refinement of Point of Analysis Agricultural Pathogen detection systems, was awarded by the CRB. This contract includes further development of the EZKnowz pathogen detection systems for the detection and monitoring of HLB disease. In addition to the portable pathogen detection units, APNT through its subsidiary EZDiagnostix (EZDx), will provide testing services, training and technical support services for the CRB over the next few months. This point of analysis agriculture pathology system will be used to boost research and understanding into detection and monitoring of citrus HLB disease.
By the end of the first contract we will have developed a next generation product that will then be delivered to our contract manufacturer for assimilation into full production for commercializing to growers, researchers, and agencies, the company explained.
The second contract, awarded by the CRB, Research Development and Implementation Committee, is a program to continue field testing and evaluating the VOC EZKnowz agriculture pathology sensor system, developed with help from CRB funds, by Cristina Davis, Ph.D., at the University of California, Davis, and APNT. This field testing will take place in the Texas Rio Grande valley over a six-month time span to identify trees with HLB in pre-symptomatic conditions and determine just how early the disease can be detected asymptomatically.
"This system and technology will offer great flexibility in meeting both CRB's and the citrus industries Point of Analysis HLB early disease detection and monitoring needs in preventing the disease to take over the citrus industry," said Alan Jernigan, CEO of EZDiagnostix, Inc., a subsidiary of APNT designated for the commercialization of the agricultural pathology and healthcare applications of the EZKnowz technology. "They can be utilized to provide near instantaneous information for detecting the HLB bacteria asymptomatically, as well as, provide tools for the growers to get ahead of the spread of the disease."
"The advancement of this technology fills a critical need for the continued production of citrus worldwide," reported Ted Batkin, president of the Citrus Research Board. "HLB has caused severe damage to citrus production regions in Asia, South America, Mexico and the United States. The ability to detect the disease early in its life cycle will allow the industry to develop management strategies to prevent spread and maintain financial viability."
"These new contracts are important to accelerating commercial development of our technology and will be important in combating a growing problem in the citrus industry,” said Jernigan.
HLB is considered to be the highest threat to all citrus production regions worldwide. More information can be found at the CRB Website: www.citrusresearch.org.