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Crop-killing bacteria are mutating rapidly

A bacterial species, closely related to the deadly citrus greening disease, is rapidly evolving its ability to infect insect hosts, and possibly plants as well. It is a newly identified species, belonging to Liberibacter, a family of bacteria known to infect several economically important crops. There are nine known Liberibacter species, including one that infects potatoes and three that are associated with citrus greening.

Citrus greening, also known as Huanglongbing, is the number one killer of citrus trees worldwide. Though many are working on solutions, there is presently no effective prevention or treatment option on the market.

Given its relatives’ destructive qualities, UC Riverside scientists set out to understand the ways the new species, L. capsica, genetically resembles other types of Liberibacter.  “As with new strains of COVID-19, bacteria become variants of concern if their mutations can impact pathogenic or transmissible properties,” said Allison Hansen, UCR entomologist and study lead.

Source: news.ucr.edu


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