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CRISPR/Cas Technology Could Enable Early Diagnosis of Devastating Citrus Disease

CRISPR/Cas Technology Could Enable Early Diagnosis of Devastating Citrus Disease. Image of citrus greening, a disease that causes green, misshapen, and bitter citrus fruit; courtesy of USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s David Bartels.

Penn State University and USDA scientists have used cutting-edge CRISPR/Cas technology to develop a diagnostic test that could enable early diagnosis of Huanglongbing or citrus greening, a serious disease that threatens worldwide citrus production, which is valued at roughly $17 billion from the sale of fresh fruit and juices.

In a new study, researchers demonstrated that the new test detects the presence of the disease's causal agent at a sensitivity level far greater than a commonly used diagnostic assessment. Early detection is crucial since the best hope of reducing the spread of citrus greening is to eliminate diseased trees quickly. Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences, USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture, and USDA’s Agricultural Research Service supported this work. For more information, read the Penn State News article.

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