Citrus Genetic Engineering for Disease Resistance: Past, Present and Future

Int J Mol Sci. 2019 Oct 23;20(21):5256. doi: 10.3390/ijms20215256.


Worldwide, citrus is one of the most important fruit crops and is grown in more than 130 countries, predominantly in tropical and subtropical areas. The healthy progress of the citrus industry has been seriously affected by biotic and abiotic stresses. Several diseases, such as canker and huanglongbing, etc., rigorously affect citrus plant growth, fruit quality, and yield. Genetic engineering technologies, such as genetic transformation and genome editing, represent successful and attractive approaches for developing disease-resistant crops. These genetic engineering technologies have been widely used to develop citrus disease-resistant varieties against canker, huanglongbing, and many other fungal and viral diseases. Recently, clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)-based systems have made genome editing an indispensable genetic manipulation tool that has been applied to many crops, including citrus. The improved CRISPR systems, such as CRISPR/CRISPR-associated protein (Cas)9 and CRISPR/Cpf1 systems, can provide a promising new corridor for generating citrus varieties that are resistant to different pathogens. The advances in biotechnological tools and the complete genome sequence of several citrus species will undoubtedly improve the breeding for citrus disease resistance with a much greater degree of precision. Here, we attempt to summarize the recent successful progress that has been achieved in the effective application of genetic engineering and genome editing technologies to obtain citrus disease-resistant (bacterial, fungal, and virus) crops. Furthermore, we also discuss the opportunities and challenges of genetic engineering and genome editing technologies for citrus disease resistance.

Keywords: breeding; citrus; disease resistance; genetic engineering.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • CRISPR-Cas Systems
  • Citrus / genetics*
  • Citrus / microbiology
  • Citrus / virology
  • Disease Resistance*
  • Gene Editing / methods
  • Genetic Engineering / methods*
  • Plant Breeding / methods*