Genome sequencing of resistant Australian lime species holds key to combating citrus greening

Researchers from The University of Queensland have successfully sequenced the genome of the Gympie lime, also known as the Australian round lime, which exhibits resistance to Huanglongbing (HLB), commonly known as “citrus greening.” This breakthrough could potentially prevent the entry of this devastating citrus disease into Australia. The team is now focusing on studying five other native citrus species, including the finger lime, in their quest to identify the specific gene responsible for HLB resistance. By incorporating this gene into commercial citrus varieties, they hope to develop resistant cultivars and provide a long-term solution to combat HLB.

Huanglongbing is a significant problem for citrus growers worldwide, affecting regions such as California and Florida in the United States, as well as Africa. Current control methods for HLB, such as chemical treatments, have not proven to be a permanent solution. Therefore, the identification of resistant genes in Australian citrus species is a crucial step toward developing resistant cultivars.

Sequencing the genome of the Australian round lime, or Citrus australis, has achieved the goal of mapping the genome and provides a valuable platform for improvements and better management of lime production in the future. The research team at UQ has access to cutting-edge technology and is well-positioned to contribute significantly to international efforts aimed at addressing the devastating impact of HLB.

Additionally, the team is working on for other tree crops like macadamia, almond, and mango. By studying a wide range of horticultural crops, the researchers aim to advance the scientific understanding necessary for improving these crops in Australia.

The findings of this study have been published in the journal Horticulture Research.

Source: University of Queensland

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