CRISPR may help create oranges resistant to devastating ‘citrus greening’

| | October 19, 2016
citrus greening
Oranges infected with citrus greening disease
This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

The researchers’ tools were chemistry class standards — glass flasks, test tubes and pipettes — but the task performed may be part of a revolutionary cure for the scourge of the state’s orange industry: citrus greening.

They are part of a gene editing tool called CRISPR…

The impact of greening, a bacterial disease carried by small insects called psyllids, can be seen in the many groves of dead or dying trees…

CRISPR is based on a virus-fighting system in bacteria that uses DNA, the building blocks of chromosomes, and ribonucleic acid, which transmits genetic messages.

But Nian Wang, researcher at the University of Florida, also said his project is more time-consuming than the hype over CRISPR might suggest…the vast array of genes in the citrus genome means that some are very similar, which in turn means that the RNA might lock on to a beneficial gene rather than one the researchers are targeting.

Wang said, his team must surmount the obstacle that always faces researchers of slow-growing fruit trees: A wait of years…but even that process is hastened by CRISPR, because the process gives researchers detailed knowledge of the modified tree’s genetics before it goes into the ground.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis. Read full, original post: UF research shows promise in finding cure for citrus greening

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