Home Tech New technology offers fighting chance against grapevine killer

New technology offers fighting chance against grapevine killer

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Scientists at UC Riverside 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.

Withering grapes on a dying vine, which can result from Pierce’s Disease. (Nataliia Shcherbyna/iStock/Getty)

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, it can only be controlled with quarantines and increasingly less effective chemical sprays.

New gene-editing technology represents hope for controlling the sharpshooter. Scientists at UC Riverside 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 has been…

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