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Sequencing of cacao genome will help US chocolate industry, subsistence farmers
Date:9/15/2010

This release is available in Spanish.

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists and their partners have announced the preliminary release of the sequenced genome of the cacao tree, an achievement that will help sustain the supply of high-quality cocoa to the $17 billion 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.

The effort is the result of a partnership between USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS); Mars, Inc., of McLean, Va., one of the world's largest manufacturers of chocolate-related products; scientists at IBM's Thomas J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown , N.Y.; and researchers from the Clemson University Genomics Institute, the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, Washington State University, Indiana University, the National Center for Genome Resources, and PIPRA (Public Intellectual Property Resource for Agriculture) at the University of California-Davis.

Team leaders from USDA included molecular biologist David Kuhn and geneticist Raymond Schnell, both at the ARS Subtropical Horticulture Research Station in Miami, Fla., and ARS computational biologist Brian Scheffler at the Jamie Whitten Delta States Research Center in Stoneville, Miss. ARS is the principal intramural scientific research agency of USDA. This research supports the USDA priority of promoting international food security, and USDA's commitment to agricultural sustainability.

"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. Kni
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Contact: Dennis O'Brien
Dennis.Obrien@ars.usda.gov
301-504-1624
United States Department of Agriculture-Research, Education, and Economics
Source:Eurekalert

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