According to research scientists at the University of Florida’s Citrus Research and Education Center, 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.