CRISPR Technology Offers Chance to Combat Threat Glassy-Winged Sharpshooter Poses to Grapevines; Insect Pest Can Spread Bacterial Pierce’s Disease Through Vineyards; Infected Vines Will Generally Die within Three Years

Glassy-Winged Sharpshooter
Scientists at the University of California (UC) Riverside (UCR) have a shot at eradicating a deadly threat to vineyards posed by the glassy-winged sharpshooter, just as its resistance to insecticide has been growing. When the half-inch-long flying insect feeds on grapevines, it transmits bacteria that causes Pierce’s Disease. Once infected, a vine is likely to die within three years--a growing problem for California’s $58 billion wine industry. Currently, the sharpshooter can only be controlled with quarantines and increasingly less effective chemical sprays. New gene-editing technology represents hope for controlling the sharpshooter. Scientists at UCR demonstrated that this technology can make permanent physical changes in the insect. They also showed these changes were passed down to three or more generations of insects. A paper describing the team’s work was published on April19, 2020 in Scientific Reports. The open-access article is titled “Efficient CRISPR/Cas9-Mediated Genome Modification of the Glassy-Winged Sharpshooter Homalodisca vitripennis (Germar).”
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