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Sequencing Of Cacao Genome Will Benefit Chocolate Makers And Cacao Farmers

December 26, 2010: 12:34 PM EST

A multinational team of scientists who recently completed the sequencing and assembly of the chocolate tree genome suggests that the primary benefit from the initiative will go to producers of high quality chocolate and the farmers who grow the beans. The researchers sequenced the DNA of the Criollo variety of Theobroma cacao, which produces the world's finest chocolate. Growers, however, usually cultivate hybrid cacao varieties whose fruit is more abundant and disease resistant, but lower in quality. The researchers believe that their work will ultimately lead to increased productivity of the better quality cacao and help to develop a sustainable cacao economy benefiting farmers. Hidden in the genome the researchers also found genes that code for the production of cocoa butter, a substance highly prized in chocolate making, confectionary, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics.

Xavier Argout, et al., "The genome of Theobroma cacao", Nature Genetics, December 26, 2010, © Nature Publishing Group
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