Citrus is one of the most important fruit crops worldwide. However, citrus production in the USA is facing an unprecedented challenge due to Huanglongbing (HLB, also known as citrus greening). HLB is the most destructive disease of citrus and causes tremendous damage to the citrus industry worldwide. HLB, caused by the uncultivated Gram-negative bacterium Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus (Las), is endemic in Florida and is found in other citrus-producing states of the USA, including California. Las resides inside the phloem and is vectored by psyllids. All commercial citrus varieties are susceptible to HLB. Generating disease-resistant citrus varieties is an efficient and sustainable long-term solution to HLB. However, the traditional approach of breeding for resistant plants for citrus is difficult and has not provided a timely solution to control HLB due to the long juvenility, large tree size, and prevalence of polyembryonic seeds in commercial varieties. Here I will present our current progress in understanding the virulence mechanism of Las, and application of CRISPR in citrus improvement against HLB.
Enlist CRISPR in Our Struggle with the Citrus Huanglongbing Crisis
Associate Professor, Department of Microbiology and Cell Science
University of Florida
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