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Chocolate farmers could benefit from newly sequenced cacao genome
Date:9/15/2010

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- A first draft of the cacao genome is complete, a consortium of academic, governmental, and industry scientists announced today. Indiana University Bloomington scientists performed much of the sequencing work, which is described and detailed at http://www.cacaogenomedb.org/, the official website of the Cacao Genome Database project.

Despite being led and funded by a private company, Mars Inc., Cacao Genome Database scientists say one of their chief concerns has been making sure the Theobroma cacao genome data was published for all to see -- especially cacao farmers and breeders in West Africa, Asia and South America, who can use genetic information to improve their planting stocks and protect their often-fragile incomes.

"When you have to wait three or more years for a tree you plant to bear the beans you sell, you want as much information as possible about the seedlings you're planting," said Keithanne Mockaitis, IU Center for Genomics and Bioinformatics (CGB) sequencing director and IU project leader. "We expect this information will positively impact some of the poorest regions in the world, where tropical tree crops are grown. Making the genome data public further enables breeders, farmers and researchers around the world to use a common set of tools, and to share information that will help them fight the spread of disease in their crops."

Mockaitis, a biochemist-turned-genomicist, joined the project in early 2009, and quickly set to work with her collaborators to tackle the challenge of sequencing and accurately pasting together the approximately 400 million base pairs of the tree's genome. Mockaitis' Cacao Genome Group partners at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Subtropical Horticulture Research Station in Miami sent samples to Bloomington, and these were prepared and sequenced in a redundant manner by her sequencing team in the CGB genomics laboratory. Seque
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Contact: David Bricker
brickerd@indiana.edu
812-856-9035
Indiana University
Source:Eurekalert  

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