Launch of XTB Laboratories
Two years ago, XTB Laboratories Inc., a startup that will be launching a new diagnostic test for diseases in commodity crops, like citrus greening, won the Ag Innovation Showcase “Ideas, Energized” award. XTB Labs was founded by Cristina Davis, a mechanical and aerospace engineering professor at UC Davis. The showcase is an international conference on technology in agriculture, ranging from biotechnology to digital and mechanical advances.
Davis launched the company in early 2016 after finding that citrus greening had been affecting millions of trees since its discovery in 2004. This disease has cost the citrus industry in Florida more than $3 billion in the past three years. The secret to XTB’s sensor technology is in the odor of citrus trees: the sensor technology tests the air around orange trees, and detects changes in the odor of a healthy tree if it is infected.
The sampling and diagnosis can be done in one day, which means infected trees can be treated before they start showing symptoms. The efficiency of the test also allows the grower to remove an infected tree before it starts spreading the disease to the rest of the crop.