University of Florida Strengthening Citrus

The Florida citrus industry, directly and indirectly, generates approximately 45,000 full-time jobs with a total economic impact of approximately $8.6 billion per year in the state.

Florida’s citrus industry has lost approximately half of its $1.5 billion on-tree fruit value in just 10 years due to citrus greening (Huanglongbing), a destructive disease that causes trees to produce small, bitter, undesirable fruit that drop prematurely and cannot be sold. The disease has reached epidemic proportions — 95 percent of commercial groves are infected in every Florida county. Since 2005, Florida’s citrus production has shrunk by more than 50 percent, which caused billions of dollars of damage to one of the state’s primary crops. A tiny insect, the Asian citrus psyllid, carries the bacterial pathogen. The disease has spread rapidly to Georgia, Louisiana, South Carolina, Texas, and California and threatens to destroy our nation’s citrus industry.

With USDA funding, scientists at University of Florida are examining different strategies to increase the potential of citrus’ own immunity and develop trees resistant to the disease. To do so, they are leveraging the latest advances in gene editing by using CRISPR, a new gene-editing technique. The team is identifying the critical genetic factors that lead to resistance, and then editing segments of DNA. By breeding new, resilient tree varieties, the team is protecting our nation’s citrus industry so it can survive and thrive once again.

Retaking The Field Volume 5 “Retaking the Field Volume 5: Innovation to Profit” explores how federally funded agricultural research strengthens farmers and ranchers’ bottomline by reducing costs and risks, increasing profits, and laying the groundwork for new products and industries. With powerful examples from universities across the country, it describes how research can generate outsized economic benefits that extends for decades. View The Issue
Retaking the Field Volume 5: Innovation to Profit Click to download report

More Stories from the community

Capitalizing on Cranberries

Both cranberries and blueberries are botanically part of the Vaccinium species. The U.S. Vaccinium industry’s domestic wholesale value exceeds $2 billion per year. Although production and consumption is growing worldwide, the growth of U.S. production has slowed in the past five years. Producers have not yet benefited from advanced breeding technologies used in other crops, which limits their ability to grow new varieties with improved fruit quality and market value.

Read More
Sequencing Solutions: Revolutionizing Understanding of Antimicrobial Resistance with Genome Analysis

Antimicrobial resistant-microbes (AMRs) pose a serious threat to public health. AMRs are found in people, animals, food, and the environment. They spread from animals to people, and from person to person. To solve this problem, Dr. Paul Morley and his team are studying the genetic makeup of all of the organisms throughout the environments involved in animal (e.g. beef and dairy cattle) food production, not just one isolated bacteria at a time.

Read More