Chocolate Genome Sequenced

A French-led research team has sequenced the DNA of Theobroma cacao, a tree used in making chocolate. Specifically, they ascertained the genetic code of one type that is used to make gourmet chocolate. This development may allow scientists to genetically engineer these chocolate-producing trees to resist diseases and parasites, thus increasing the availability of top quality chocolate:

Currently, most cacao farmers earn about $2 per day, but producers of fine cacao earn more. Increasing the productivity and ease of growing cacao can help to develop a sustainable cacao economy. The trees are now also seen as an environmentally beneficial crop because they grow best under forest shade, allowing for land rehabilitation and enriched biodiversity.

The team's work identified a variety of gene families that may have future impact on improving cacao trees and fruit either by enhancing their attributes or providing protection from fungal diseases and insects that effect cacao trees.

Link via Fast Company | Photo via Flickr user Peter Pearson used under Creative Commons license

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