© 2023 All Rights reserved WUSF
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Researchers: Closer To Finding Citrus Greening Cure

Florida’s citrus industry ended its growing season on a slight uptick, regaining the Sunshine State’s dominance in orange production over California.
Flikr / Creative Commons

Research scientists at the University of Florida’s Citrus Research and Education Center say they are on the cusp of finding a cure for greening disease.

Citrus greening, a bacterial disease that destroys citrus tree production and eventually kills trees, has had a devastating effect on Florida’s citrus crops.  Earlier this week, the U.S Department of Agriculture predicted that Florida will collect just 70 million boxes of oranges, down from 81.6 million in the previous harvest, and down from the all-time peak of 244 million boxes in 1998. 

The researchers have been using a gene-editing tool, known as CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats). It's based on a virus-fighting system in bacteria that uses DNA and ribonucleic acid to not only eliminate genes that makes citrus vulnerable to greening, but also replaces them with other genes from the same plant.

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, met with the researchers Tuesday at the center to get a first-hand look at CRISPR.  

WUSF 89.7 depends on donors for the funding it takes to provide you the most trusted source of news and information here in town, across our state, and around the world. Support WUSF now by giving monthly, or make a one-time donation online.