A research group, led by a University of Florida bacteriologist, has created a genetic road map of a new strain of citrus greening that could further threaten Florida’s citrus industry.
Dean Gabriel, who helped sequence the genome of the citrus greening strain found in Florida, led the group that sequenced a new Brazilian strain, according to a news release.
Although there is no known cure for either strain, the genetic information will help guide researchers into finding one.
In addition, the knowledge will help them avoid surprises from the Brazilian strain, which also has been found in Texas.
“What the genome does, it lets you know everything that the organism has and doesn’t have in its artillery for offense and defense — and it lets you design a strategy to control it,” Gabriel said in the release.
The genome map already is available to other researchers online through GenBank. The group’s work will be outlined in a paper scheduled to be published in February in the journal Molecular Plant-Microbe Interaction.
Although citrus greening is harmless to humans, the bacterial disease weakens and even kills citrus trees. Since it was first confirmed in Florida in 2005, greening has cost the state’s citrus industry more than $4 billion, according to university figures.
The disease also has been found in isolated cases in California, South Carolina, Louisiana and Texas.