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US researchers aim RNAi at citrus greening disease

US researchers are investigating the use of RNAi interference technology for the control of the insect vectors of citrus greening disease or huanglongbing (Candidatus liberibacter asiaticus). Scientists at the University of Florida used a citrus tristezia virus (CTV) RNAi technique to alter the expression of a gene in the Asian citrus psyllid (Diaphorina citri) to produce malformed wings. The impaired ability of the psyllids to fly would potentially limit the spread of the disease between citrus trees, the scientists point out. The CTV RNAi vector could also be used as a tool to fast-track screening of candidate genes related to the pysllid's ability to survive, fly or reproduce and ultimately help in the development of genetically modified pest- and disease-resistant citrus. The research has been published in the Journal of Biotechnology.

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