UF/IFAS Researchers Make Strides in the Fight Against Citrus Greening

After a decade of fighting Florida’s most destructive plant disease, researchers at the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agriculture Sciences have developed a citrus tree that shows resistance to citrus greening.

Citrus greening has threatened Florida’s $10.7 billion citrus industry since it was first detected in the state in 2005. A bacterial disease spread by Huanglongbinginsects, citrus greening starves the trees of essential nutrients and results in green, misshapen fruit and the tree’s eventual death.  In the last 10 years, Florida has lost approximately 100,000 acres of citrus trees and $3.6 billion in revenue.

Now Florida’s many citrus producers will have hope, as researchers Jude Grosser and Manjul Dutt at UF/IFAS’ Citrus Research and Education Center have developed a genetically modified citrus tree that shows enhanced resistance to citrus greening.

Grosser and Dutt used a gene isolated from the Arabidopsis plant, of the mustard family, to create a new variety of citrus tree. The researchers planted the new trees in fields and greenhouses filled with infected trees and insects. After years of tests, their experiments showed that the new trees had enhanced resistance, reduced disease-severity, and some even remained completely disease-free.

Though it may be several years before these trees are commercially available, this research breakthrough is in important step towards conquering the disease plaguing Florida growers for the last decade.

Read more: http://news.ifas.ufl.edu/2015/11/uf-creates-trees-with-enhanced-resistance-to-greening/

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