Jessica Franco: DEBVBD Graduate Student Travel Award
Jessica Franco, a fourth year graduate student in Dr. Gitta Coaker’s lab, will be attending the International Research Conference on Huanglongbing (HLB) in Orlando, FL with support from the DEBVBD Graduate Student Travel Award. HLB is a devastating bacterial disease of citrus vectored by the Asian citrus psyllid. HLB researchers and citrus growers will attend the meeting and discuss concerns, methods, and findings to improve pathogen detection, vector control and disease resistance. Jessica will give an oral presentation focusing on her research on HLB. Jessica has sampled a large number of Navels in both greenhouse and field experiments to identify dynamically changing citrus proteins in response to infection. She has identified secreted citrus proteases that are upregulated during infection. She has performed activity profiling and identified a subclass of these proteases whose activity may be inhibited by the HLB pathogen. This work has the potential to significantly enhance our understanding of how this pathogen manipulates citrus to cause HLB.