Scientists with UF/IFAS and others utilize trifoliate orange genome sequencing for citrus greening tolerance and other benefits.

UF/IFAS scientists in collaboration with others have achieved a “major milestone” in sequencing to create a citrus tree with citrus greening tolerance, according to a UF/IFAS blog post. UF/IFAS scientists in collaboration with those from the University of California at Berkeley, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Joint Genome Institute, and UF’s Interdisciplinary Center for Biotechnology Research have sequenced the trifoliate orange genome. It will possibly offer a new tool for citrus breeders to use to create citrus trees that are tolerant to citrus greening. Explore the details below.

Sequencing for Citrus Greening Tolerance

Zhanao Deng, a professor of environmental horticulture and a senior author on the new UF/IFAS-led study on sequencing for citrus greening tolerance, said in the blog, “Very importantly, trifoliate orange and its hybrids have genes that can confer high tolerance to citrus greening and resistance to the Asian citrus psyllid, the insect that transmits greening to citrus. This genome can be used as a reference template to sequence widely used trifoliate orange hybrid rootstock varieties.” Scientists with the study believe the trifoliate orange genome can help breed citrus trees that can also withstand invasive pests, viruses, and climate change.

Fred Gmitter, a UF/IFAS citrus breeding genetics professor and a co-author on the study shared that trifoliate orange is a common rootstock. Now researchers can use it to introduce desirable genes into sweet oranges and more. “Because of our high-quality genome, re-sequencing of trifoliate orange hybrid rootstock varieties will be much easier, much quicker and much more cost-efficient. Re-sequencing will enable development of new breeding tools, such as DNA marker-based selection, genomic selection of new rootstock varieties with resistance and tolerance to citrus greening, citrus tristeza virus and citrus nematodes. The new varieties might give higher yield and fruit quality,” Deng said in the blog.

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