Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Genetic Roots Of Cacao Trees Traced

Date:
January 7, 2009
Source:
U.S Department of Agriculture
Summary:
By examining the DNA of cacao trees, scientists have traced the genetic roots of the key ingredient in chocolate.

Scientists have traced the genetic roots of the Theobroma cacao tree, source of the key ingredient in chocolate.
Credit: Photo courtesy of Paul Bolstad, University of Minnesota, Bugwood.org.

By examining the DNA of cacao trees, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists and colleagues from confectionery giant Mars, Inc., have traced the genetic roots of the key ingredient in chocolate.

Cocoa comes from the Theobroma cacao tree, which forms the basis of a multibillion-dollar U.S. chocolate industry. The seeds are processed into cocoa beans that are the source of cocoa, cocoa butter and chocolate. But diseases cost growers an estimated $700 million each year, and scientists have been looking for ways to produce cacao trees that can resist them.

David Kuhn, a molecular biologist at the ARS Subtropical Horticulture Research Station in Miami, Fla., and the research team published findings this fall that are a step toward that goal, shedding light on Theobroma’s genetic diversity.

The researchers extracted DNA from the leaves of 952 cacao trees maintained in germplasm collections in Miami, Puerto Rico, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Trinidad and Brazil. The trees were collected by plant explorers over the past 70 years and came from 12 South American countries.

By looking at patterns among 106 genetic markers, the researchers were able to pinpoint where cacao has the greatest genetic diversity and where it likely originated: the upper Amazon basin of Peru.

The researchers also found enough genetic diversity to realign what might be considered Theobroma’s family tree, breaking it up into 10 major genetic groups, instead of the commonly accepted three groups.

Kuhn hopes the findings will encourage breeders to increase the diversity of their cacao tree stocks by crossbreeding among the 10 groups. That would reduce outbreaks of diseases that penetrate tree fruit, destroy seed-bearing pods and can cause farmers to lose up to 80 percent of their crop. Breeders should think about using the entire palette of genetic diversity to improve cacao breeding programs and avoid certain diseases such as black pod and witches' broom, according to Kuhn.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by U.S Department of Agriculture. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

U.S Department of Agriculture. "Genetic Roots Of Cacao Trees Traced." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 January 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081228193212.htm>.
U.S Department of Agriculture. (2009, January 7). Genetic Roots Of Cacao Trees Traced. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081228193212.htm
U.S Department of Agriculture. "Genetic Roots Of Cacao Trees Traced." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081228193212.htm (accessed September 19, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, September 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

AP (Sep. 18, 2014) Grand the elephant has successfully undergone surgery to remove a portion of infected tusk at Tbilisi Zoo in Georgia. British veterinary surgeons used an electric drill to extract the infected piece. (Sept. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chimp Violence Study Renews Debate On Why They Kill

Chimp Violence Study Renews Debate On Why They Kill

Newsy (Sep. 17, 2014) The study weighs in on a debate over whether chimps are naturally violent or become that way due to human interference in the environment. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) The South's tobacco country is surviving, and even thriving in some cases, as demand overseas keeps growers in the fields of one of America's oldest cash crops. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Given Rare Glimpse of 350-Kilo Colossal Squid

Scientists Given Rare Glimpse of 350-Kilo Colossal Squid

AFP (Sep. 16, 2014) Scientists say a female colossal squid weighing an estimated 350 kilograms (770 lbs) and thought to be only the second intact specimen ever found was carrying eggs when discovered in the Antarctic. Duration: 00:47 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins