Jieli Wegerif

Jieli Wegerif

Mentor

Dr. Erica Goss

College

College of Agricultural and Life Sciences

Major

Plant Science

Minor

East Asian Languages & Literatures - Chinese

Organizations

UF Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Related Sciences; ASTRA at UF; UF Club Wheelchair Basketball

Academic Awards

Farm Credit VIP Scholar, CALS SHARE Scholar, CALS Dean's List

Volunteering

Siembra Farm, Grow Hub, Working Food GNV

Research Interests

plant-microbe interactions, plant breeding, seed saving, precision agriculture, educational outreach

Hobbies and Interests

gardening, basketball, food justice, science communication

Research Project

Microbial Taxonomic Diversity Throughout Progression of Citrus Greening Infection

Citrus greening, or Huanglongbing (HLB), is a disease attributed to the bacterium Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus (CLas) and transmitted by the Asian citrus psyllid (Diaphorina citri). My project will use quantitative PCR to determine the titer of CLas in citrus trees which were sampled in a previous experiment. This data will be merged with the preceding experiment’s findings on microbial taxonomic diversity between trees which was measured in relative abundance of operational taxonomic units (OTUs). 16S-sequences will be processed using the Quantitative Insights in Microbial Ecology pipeline to assess the makeup and diversity of antimicrobial-resistant colony-forming units (AMR-CFUs) found within and between the individual tissue samples tested for CLas titer. Statistical analysis will be conducted via R to examine correlations between relative abundance of OTUs, AMR-CFUs, and CLas titer among groves. This analysis could be used to gain a better understanding of the impact antibiotic application has on CLas in commercial groves and parse the relationships between microbial community diversity, CLas titer, and grove management. By comparing CLas titer with the taxonomy of the bacterial groups, I aim to find bacteria that are significantly associated with low CLas titer and could thus be beneficial to citrus health. Identifying bacteria that can withstand CLas and antibiotic treatments could potentially result in the discovery of beneficial bacteria capable of helping citrus trees survive HLB and its antibiotic treatment.