Dr. Erik Mirkov,
plant pathologist at
Research and Extension
Photo: Texas AgriLife Research
Using biotechnology, Mirkov's research team inserted two spinach genes into a gene-modified (GM) citrus tree creating the first HLB virus resistant citrus tree. One of the spinach genes is more effective than then other but they work better together than alone. Mirkov inserted the two spinach proteins because he knew that they had broad-spectrum resistance against multiple bacteria and fungi.
According to Ray Prewett, president of Texas Citrus Mutual, a commodity group in Mission, “the entire U.S. citrus industry is placing a lot of hope and faith on the outcome of this research. Our industry is using all of the currently available tools to fight the disease recently found in Texas, but we are counting on disease-resistant trees as our best long term solution.”
"Spinach Genes May Stop Deadly Citrus Disease," Crop Biotech Update, 4 April 2012.
"U.S.: GM citrus trees show HLB disease resistance," GreenBiotech News, 2 April 2012.
Santa Ana, Rod. "Spinach genes may stop deadly citrus disease," Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center Press Release, 26 March 2012.