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UF Researcher Helps Map DNA of New Strand of Citrus Greening

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A University of Florida researcher has mapped the genome of a new strain of citrus greening that could impact Florida’s citrus industry.

Professor Dean Gabriel, a plant bacteriology specialist with the University of Florida, helped to map the genome of a Brazilian strand of citrus greening.

Gabriel said the new strand of DNA has a chance to help researchers overcome the citrus greening problem.

“Like I said, (we can) very quickly look in the short term if we can find a chemical solution. In the medium to long term, if we can find a genetic solution,” he said.

Unfortunately, if a tree is infected, it will remain extremely difficult to spot and get rid of the disease.

“When it’s infected in the first place,” Gabriel explained, “by the time it has the disease, the process is well underway. Lots of the root mass of the tree are already destroyed. You can put a treatment on at that point, and maybe you can kill the whole thing, but it’ll take a while before you know if the tree is going to recover.”

Time is working against researchers to help stop citrus greening.

“I think there’s a lot of opportunity now to come to grips with it, but we are running out of time in the state of Florida,” Gabriel said.

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