We hope you’ve been enjoying those screwdrivers and mimosas, kids, because we’re fast stumbling towards a post-citrus society. Round about 2005, a troublesome bacterium carried by a classy little critter called an Asian psyllid made landfall in Florida and started wreaking gradual havoc on citrus of all types. “Citrus greening,” the disease that appears to be caused by this diabolical dynamic duo, leads to the ruination of every type of citrus you might want plop into those sophisticated adult beverages that help you cope with life.
Let us throw some sobering numbers at you: the USDA is pegging this year’s Florida orange crop to be the puniest in over 50 years. 50 YEARS. According to Florida’s Ag Secretary, “[i]f the estimate plays out, it will be half of what we harvested just four years ago.”
Researchers have been scrambling for years now, and scores of methods are being attempted with varying degrees of success to control its spread, yet there remains no cure for citrus greening. However, in a brand new positive development straight out of your near-future sci-fi, researchers at the University of Florida have developed orange trees altered to include a gene from a mustard plant that have shown impressive resistance to the citrus-murdering bacteria.
While there’s clearly a long way to go yet before the entirety of Florida’s limes, lemons, oranges and grapefruit are saved from the citrus plague, cross your fingers, little campers, because if anything’s going to save your gin & tonic from parting ways with limes forever – it’ll be SCIENCE.
Featured image via [Shutterstock]