Crop Biotech Update

CRISPR Helps Scientists Develop Canker-resistant Citrus Lines in Less Than a Year

July 27, 2023

A group of scientists from the University of Florida and Integrated DNA Technologies, Inc. were able to generate transgene-free canker-resistant citrus lines using CRISPR-Cas12a/crRNA ribonucleoprotein technology. The study is expected to have significant beneficial impact on the improvement of elite citrus cultivars.

The scientists conducted transformation of embryogenic protoplasts with Cas12a/crRNA ribonucleoprotein to edit canker, a devastating global citrus disease caused by Xanthomanas citri subsp. Citri (Xcc), to develop transgene-free canker-resistant Citrus sinensis lines. They were able to produce 39 plants initially, and 38 of these were biallelic/homozygous mutants. No off-target mutations were also detected. The whole process, from transformation to grafting, only took 10 months and was determined to complement traditional citrus breeding approaches.

The lines are still undergoing evaluation, but USDA APHIS has already determined that they are exempted from EPA regulation as they are transgene-free. If released, the canker-resistant citrus lines can provide a sustainable and efficient solution to control citrus canker and bring relief to citrus growers and consumers.

More details in Nature Communications.

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