Scientists have created a virus that will protect the oranges from extinction

© Fotolia / Johanna MühlbauerЦитрусовыеScientists have created a virus that will protect the oranges from extinction© Fotolia / Johanna Mühlbauer

Biologists from the United States has turned one of the viruses of citrus trees in the way of dealing with bacteria for which the contribution to the orange trees and gradually kills them and makes their fruit is bitter and green, reports the news service of the journal Nature.

«The first outbreak of the disease occurred in the United States in 2005, when farmers from Miami noticed the first tree with green fruits. For us it was the first sign of trouble. This disease has tremendous destructive capacity, and we needed it not now, but 10 years ago,» said Fred Gmitter (Fred Gmitter), an agronomist from the University of Florida in lake Alfred (USA).

So-called disease «citrus green» is now a major threat to plantations of oranges and other citrus in all countries of the world and one of the potential reasons for the extinction of these fruits. It was opened in the first third of the 20th century in China, but its rapid spread began only in recent years when it has penetrated to the New world and began to spread rapidly on farms in the United States and in other States of America.

Initially, scientists believed that the cause of its development are unknown to science viruses that carry herbal flea beetles that feed on the juice of orange trees and other citrus, but later it turned out that it is caused by the bacteria Candidatus liberibacter. Getting those germs inside of the tree leads to yellowing of its leaves, the massive blossom and the formation of misshapen and bitter fruit, and the bottom part retains immature green.

Pesticides and other measures for pest control are powerless against the spread of Candidatus liberibacter, as getting the germ inside the orange tree irrevocably deprives him of the ability to produce normal fruit and quickly kills him. Therefore, scientists today are going to drastic measures to combat the microbe.

This fight goes two ways – by adding spinach genes that are responsible for combating infection with Candidatus liberibacter, in the DNA of oranges, and by creating viruses that can kill these germs.

To combat them, researchers from Florida decided to use a different pathogen oranges – virus CTV, which is often spread by those same fleas herbal. Biologists have removed from the virus genes responsible for infecting the cells of the oranges, and replaced them with other stretches of DNA that make CTV to kill the microbes, not the plant.

This virus was successfully field and laboratory tests, and scientists have sent its proposal to the Department of agriculture of the United States to start using it for commercial purposes. The company’s Southern Gardens Citrus plans to use the development of scientists to rescue their plantations from destruction, if the officials recognize the genetically modified virus is harmless to the environment.

This approach, according to the company, would be more effective than the creation of new GMO varieties of oranges, as checking the latest on the security can last for several decades, during which all the other oranges will disappear. Viruses, in turn, do not cause so much of public attention, and therefore the check is much faster.


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