University of Florida scientists plan to utilize $2 million from an initiative by UF President Ben Sasse for a Crop Transformation Center to help Florida farmers improve production of citrus and specialty crops.
For now, front and center among goals for the center is to find citrus varieties that can tolerate or even resist citrus greening disease, also known as Huanlongbing (HLB).
Growers are looking for solutions to the disease, which has caused a 70 percent to 80 percent reduction in production to Florida’s signature crop.
The center objectives include:
- Developing rapid genome improvements for citrus.
- Leveraging artificial intelligence to discover new gene functions to identify targets for genetic modification.
- Use clear communication and engagement with regulatory agencies to increase the transparency of the approval process.
- Infuse social science to ensure rapid adoption of new technologies among growers and the public.
- Effectively communicate to the public.
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