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Florida Researchers Develop Greening-Resistant Citrus Trees

Greening is a disease that weakens citrus trees. The fruit becomes unusable. Photo by Amy Green / WMFE


University of Florida researchers say they have developed genetically modified citrus trees that are resistant to greening.

It is a significant step against the disease that has devastated Florida’s $11 billion citrus industry and is among the worst to hit a U.S. crop.

Researchers developed the trees using a plant gene from the mustard family.

But Jack Payne of the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences says the trees still face a regulatory process that will delay their availability by several years.

“I hesitate to use the word, cure, but this is a giant step forward.”

Greening is spread by a tiny insect called a psyllid. The disease starves trees of nutrients, rendering their fruit unsuitable for sale. Most infected trees eventually die.

Experiments showed several trees remained disease-free after three years of monitoring.

Researchers say the trees also show resistance to canker and black spot.


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Amy Green

About Amy Green

Reporter and Producer

Amy Green covers the environment and climate change at WMFE News. She is an award-winning journalist and author whose extensive reporting on the Everglades is featured in the book MOVING WATER, published by Johns Hopkins University Press, and podcast DRAINED, available wherever you get your podcasts. Amy’s ... Read Full Bio »

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