Cacao genome sequencing, a boon to chocolate loversSeptember 16th, 2010 - 1:25 pm ICT by ANI
Washington, Sep 16 (ANI): Scientists have successfully sequenced the cacao genome, or the so-called chocolate gene-a feat that could give a much-needed boost to the U.S. chocolate industry.
The achievement made by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists will help sustain the supply of high-quality cocoa to the 17 billion dollar U.S. chocolate industry and protect the livelihoods of small farmers around the world by speeding up development, through traditional breeding techniques, of trees better equipped to resist the droughts, diseases and pests that threaten this vital agricultural crop.
“Because of the talent and dedication brought together by this unique partnership, researchers and plant breeders will be able to accelerate the genetic improvement of the cacao crop now cultivated in tropical regions around the world,” said Edward B. Knipling, administrator of USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS).
“This will benefit not only the chocolate industry, but also millions of small farmers who will be able to continue to make their living from cacao,” he added.
Cocoa comes from the cacao tree, Theobroma cacao. The tree seeds are processed into cocoa beans that are the source of cocoa, cocoa butter and chocolate.
But fungal diseases can destroy seed-bearing pods and wipe out up to 80 percent of the crop, and cause an estimated 700 million dollar in losses each year.
Worldwide demand for cacao now exceeds production, and hundreds of thousands of small farmers and landholders throughout the tropics depend on cacao for their livelihoods. An estimated 70 percent of the world’s cocoa is produced in West Africa.
Scientists worldwide have been searching for years for ways to produce cacao trees that can resist evolving pests and diseases, tolerate droughts and produce higher yields.
ARS researchers have been testing new cacao tree varieties developed with genetic markers.
But having the genome sequenced is expected to speed up the process of identifying genetic markers for specific genes that confer beneficial traits, enabling breeders to produce superior new lines through traditional breeding techniques.
Sequencing cacao’s genome also will help researchers develop an overall picture of the plant’s genetic makeup, uncover the relationships between genes and traits, and broaden scientific understanding of how the interplay of genetics and the environment determines a plant’s health and viability. (ANI)
- New chocolate genome sequence could make 'food of the gods' better - Dec 27, 2010
- Chocolate could be combating heart diseases in 5 years - Nov 15, 2010
- How science could make your treats even tastier - Dec 27, 2010
- Scientists now know tomato better - May 31, 2012
- Cocoa genome discovery to ensure healthier, tastier chocolate! - Nov 15, 2010
- Apple genome could lead to better apples - Aug 30, 2010
- Scientists developing salt-resistant rice - Jan 23, 2012
- GM crops no longer safe from pests - Jun 21, 2012
- Newly sequenced strawberry genome decoded - Dec 27, 2010
- Scientists release the DNA of chocolate - Sep 17, 2010
- Decoding wheat genome key to tackling global food shortage - Aug 27, 2010
- Decoding of potato genome expected to help improve its disease resistance and nutritional value - Sep 25, 2009
- Finding a way to extend tomato shelf life - Feb 17, 2011
- Warming threatens Southeast Asia's cassava industry - Apr 15, 2012
- Sequencing soybean genome could improve crops - Jan 14, 2010
Tags: agricultural crop, agricultural research service, cacao tree, cacao trees, chocolate gene, chocolate industry, chocolate lovers, cocoa beans, cocoa butter, department of agriculture, droughts, fungal diseases, genetic improvement, genetic markers, knipling, tree seeds, tree varieties, tropical regions, usda scientists, worldwide demand