Cacao tree – Cacao VM http://cacaovm.org/ Tue, 14 Dec 2021 16:18:03 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.8.2 https://cacaovm.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/profile-150x150.png Cacao tree – Cacao VM http://cacaovm.org/ 32 32 Farmers first grew cocoa 3,600 years ago • Earth.com https://cacaovm.org/farmers-first-grew-cocoa-3600-years-ago-earth-com/ Sun, 28 Oct 2018 07:00:00 +0000 https://cacaovm.org/farmers-first-grew-cocoa-3600-years-ago-earth-com/ The ancient inhabitants of Central America knew how to prioritize. Geneticists discovered that they first domesticated the cocoa tree about 3,600 years ago. The discovery doesn’t just show that ancient farmers knew what was important. It can also help geneticists and anthropologists trace human migrations across the two continents that make up the Americas. “This […]]]>

The ancient inhabitants of Central America knew how to prioritize. Geneticists discovered that they first domesticated the cocoa tree about 3,600 years ago.

The discovery doesn’t just show that ancient farmers knew what was important. It can also help geneticists and anthropologists trace human migrations across the two continents that make up the Americas.

“This evidence increases our understanding of how humans moved and settled in America,” said lead author Dr. Omar Cornejo of Washington State University said in a press release. “This is important in itself because it gives us time to ask perhaps more delicate questions: how long did it take to make good cocoa? How strong was the domestication process? How many plants were needed to domesticate a tree?

Cornejo led a team of 18 scientists from 11 different institutions, including Stanford University, Indiana University, Mars, Inc. and the US Department of Agriculture.

Researchers sequenced 200 plants to spot variations in the genome that could indicate where and when the cocoa tree was first domesticated.

They discovered that the “prince of cocoas”, a variety of Theobroma cocoa known as Criollo, is native to the Amazon, near the border between Colombia and Ecuador. However, it was domesticated in Central America, where the seeds were probably brought in by traders.

Farmers who domesticated the cocoa tree selected for its flavor, disease resistance, and theobromine, a stimulant, but that meant the plant retained genes linked to smaller crops.

This information could help researchers increase cocoa production without sacrificing flavor, the researchers said.

“What we would like to have is a way to combine plants from high productivity populations – like Iquitos – with plants of Criollo origin, while retaining all of those desirable traits that make Criollo cocoa the best in the world. “said Cornejo.

The study was published in the open source journal Communications biology. Funding for the study came from the chocolate company Mars, Inc., which is supporting efforts to study the cocoa tree genome.

By Kyla Cathey, Contributing Writer of Earth.com

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How to grow a cocoa tree quickly https://cacaovm.org/how-to-grow-a-cocoa-tree-quickly/ Thu, 08 Feb 2018 08:00:00 +0000 https://cacaovm.org/how-to-grow-a-cocoa-tree-quickly/ Growing a cocoa tree – the plant whose pods turn into chocolate – takes patience. It takes three to five years for a cocoa bean to develop into a fruit tree. Each tree produces a limited number of seeds. And these seeds are not the same as the mother plant. The genes inside the seeds […]]]>

Growing a cocoa tree – the plant whose pods turn into chocolate – takes patience. It takes three to five years for a cocoa bean to develop into a fruit tree. Each tree produces a limited number of seeds. And these seeds are not the same as the mother plant. The genes inside the seeds are a mixture. Some come from the plant that grows the fruit. Others come from the tree that provided the pollen. This is a challenge for researchers studying the genetics of cocoa plants. As they try to improve the characteristics of these trees from generation to generation, they don’t want to wait years to find out if a tree has good genes for specific traits.

And now they don’t have to. Mark Guiltinan and Siela Maximova are plant biologists at Pennsylvania State University in University Park. Their secret: cloning.

They start with a tree that has the genes that interest them. These genes could help the tree resist disease, for example. Or the genes could help the tree grow faster or make better tasting chocolate. (Researchers do not insert genes into the tree – it is not genetically modified. Rather, they look for genes that developed in them naturally.)

Scientists cut tiny pieces of flowers from a tree. They put the pieces in a germ-free solution. Then they add hormones which cause each piece of flower to start developing into a young plant, as if it were a seed.

This way, researchers can create thousands of plants from the pieces of a single flower. These new plants are clone. This means that they have the exact same genes as their parent tree – and each other.

Identical genes are a blessing and a curse. These genes can make a cocoa tree grow many pods or prevent it from contracting a certain disease. But there are many different diseases of cocoa. Resistance to one disease may not protect the plant against another. Because all of these young plants share the same genes, they are all vulnerable to the same pests and diseases. If someone were to plant a farm or an entire plantation with identical cocoa trees, a single infection could later wipe them all out.

Guiltinan and Maximova are very aware of the problem. “We would never recommend just one variety,” says Guiltinan. Instead, he suggests that cocoa farmers are planting many different types of genetically different trees. Each variety is said to produce many pods and be resistant to at least one disease. This should help ensure a healthy field and a harvest of delicious cocoa.

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Scientists date the origin of the cocoa tree 10 million years ago – sciencedaily https://cacaovm.org/scientists-date-the-origin-of-the-cocoa-tree-10-million-years-ago-sciencedaily/ Tue, 10 Nov 2015 08:00:00 +0000 https://cacaovm.org/scientists-date-the-origin-of-the-cocoa-tree-10-million-years-ago-sciencedaily/ Chocolate, produced from the seeds of the cocoa tree Theobroma cacao, is one of the most popular flavors in the world, with sales of around $ 100 billion a year. Yet, as global demand increases, there are concerns that the industry will fail to cope with the growing public hunger for the product. The main […]]]>

Chocolate, produced from the seeds of the cocoa tree Theobroma cacao, is one of the most popular flavors in the world, with sales of around $ 100 billion a year. Yet, as global demand increases, there are concerns that the industry will fail to cope with the growing public hunger for the product. The main problem, common to many crops, is the lack of genetic variation in cultivated cocoa, which makes it vulnerable to pests and blight. The lack of genetic variation also puts cocoa trees at risk from climate change, compromising the long-term sustainability of the industry.

Today, however, new research suggests that the cocoa tree is much older than previously thought – and that it may have close relationships capable of supporting our greedy appetites.

“Studies on the evolutionary history of economically important groups are vital for developing agricultural industries and demonstrate the importance of biodiversity conservation in contributing to sustainable development. Here we show for the first time that the source of chocolate, Theobroma cacao, is remarkably ancient for an Amazonian plant species, ”says Dr James Richardson, tropical botanist at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, UK, and lead author of the ‘study.

In collaboration with researchers from the University of Rosario and the University of the Andes in Colombia, the University of Miami, United States, and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Richardson has discovered that Theobroma cacao is one of the oldest species of the genus Theobroma. , having evolved about 10 million years ago. At the time, the Andes were not yet fully elevated, which is why cocoa trees are found on both sides of the Andes today.

The early evolutionary origin of the species is good news: it suggests that the cocoa tree has had sufficient time to genetically diversify, with each wild population adapting to its local habitat. Wild populations of cocoa across the Americas may therefore be treasures of genetic variation, which could be crossed in cultivated strains to make the latter more resistant to disease and climate change, and perhaps even create new chocolate flavors. .

“After ten million years of evolution, we shouldn’t be surprised to see a large amount of variation within species, some of which may exhibit new flavors or disease-resistant forms. These varieties can help improve a developing chocolate industry, ”says James Richardson.

Researchers are already planning to return to South America to sample all cocoa-related species and study the characteristics of their native populations.

“We hope to highlight the importance of conserving biodiversity so that it can be used to increase and safeguard the agricultural sector. By understanding the diversification processes of chocolate and its relatives, we can contribute to the development of the industry. and demonstrate that this is truly the Age of Chocolate, ”says co-author Dr Santiago Madriñán of the University of the Andes in Bogotá, Colombia.

The study is published in the open access journal Frontiers in ecology and evolution.

Source of the story:

Material provided by Borders. Note: Content can be changed for style and length.

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Lifestyle of the week: From cocoa to chocolate Valentine’s Day | Earth https://cacaovm.org/lifestyle-of-the-week-from-cocoa-to-chocolate-valentines-day-earth/ Sat, 14 Feb 2015 08:00:00 +0000 https://cacaovm.org/lifestyle-of-the-week-from-cocoa-to-chocolate-valentines-day-earth/ No sooner have the Christmas decorations been put away than the Valentine’s Day paraphernalia appears. Stores around the world are dressing up in pinks and reds and bracing for the boom in the torrential sales of flowers, jewelry and, most importantly, chocolate. Chocolate-coated strawberries, chocolate-coated cherries and heart-shaped boxes filled with heart-shaped chocolates can be […]]]>

No sooner have the Christmas decorations been put away than the Valentine’s Day paraphernalia appears. Stores around the world are dressing up in pinks and reds and bracing for the boom in the torrential sales of flowers, jewelry and, most importantly, chocolate. Chocolate-coated strawberries, chocolate-coated cherries and heart-shaped boxes filled with heart-shaped chocolates can be found in all shops, supermarkets and roadside kiosks in the weeks leading up to February 14. Although they weren’t even made as a solid until the mid-19th century, chocolate became the must-have Valentine’s gift. Initially conferred on the Mayan and Aztec civilizations by the Theobroma cocoa tree, chocolate will later be offered to European conquerors. It has undergone some changes since that time, but its popularity has not waned at all.

Love tree

Image credit: Medicaster.

Long before it was a dessert standard around the world, the Mayan and Aztec cultures in Mesoamerica valued chocolate as a drink. Theobroma cocoa, the tree from which they took this drink, is from the new world. Small tree of undergrowth, it grows best in humid climates, in the shade of taller species. A little delicate, it cannot withstand drought or frost.

The tree produces a lot of flowers (not especially worthy of a bouquet) and a much smaller amount of fruit (maybe 40 in a good year) in pod form. The flowers and pods grow directly from the trunk of the tree. Each pod contains between 20 and 60 seeds, or “beans” embedded in a pulp. It was the beans that ultimately provided the company with the first chocolate drinks and a variety of modern chocolate products.

Cross section of the terminal. Image credit: Agricultural Research Service.

After eons of suffering through a dull, chocolate-free existence, Europe finally got wind of the new New World drink in the 16th century, when Spanish explorers brought back the treat from their travels. Chocolate was a hit in Spain and the trend quickly spread to the wealthier residents of other European countries. The drink served the continent’s needs for a few centuries before advancements in the industry allowed cocoa beans to be turned not only into drinks but also into candy.

Food of the gods *

What does it take to grind the fruit of the cocoa tree into candy wrapped in foil to buy as romantic holiday offerings? Is this a miracle performed by Aphrodite herself? Let’s see if we can get some of the romance out of it, okay?

From pods to candy. Image credit: Everjean (L) and chaunceydavis818 (R).

Here is the basic process:
Step 1) remove the beans from the pods and pat dry
Step 2) roasted beans
Step 3) remove the bean shells and keep the inner “feathers” †
Step 4) grind the feathers into a paste
Step 5) heat the dough in a uniform liquid known as “cocoa mass”

Like love itself, the terminology of the chocolate industry is often unduly confused. Cocoa beans are also called cocoa beans. Cocoa mass is also called cocoa liquor, although none contain alcohol. ‡ Liquor, like the bean from which it was ground, is roughly half the fat. After the initial heating which turns the batter into a liquor, the fatty and low-fat components can be further separated into cocoa butter (just the fat) and cocoa solids (just the lean). Cocoa solids are generally sold as cocoa powder. It should be mentioned that terminology is not always used correctly or consistently. (I have come across more than one candy bar using the term “cocoa solids” when it clearly meant “cocoa mass”). Puzzled and frustrated yet? Maybe a glossary will help you …

Cocoa paste / cocoa liquor – product made by heating ground and roasted cocoa bean paste.
Cocoa – low fat part separated from the cocoa mass, can be ground into cocoa powder.
Cocoa butter – fatty part separated from the cocoa mass.

Or how about this production flowchart …

Cocoa butter. Image credit: David Monniaux.

Where were we still? Oh, that’s right… Cocoa mass, sugar, and cocoa butter make up the bulk of any decent chocolate bar (we’ll come back to abominations like milk chocolate shortly). Adding cocoa powder and reducing sugar can result in super, mega, and extremely dark varieties. Some manufacturers have created bars that contain up to “99% cocoa”. Ah, but is it cocoa mass or cocoa solids? Judging by the nutrition label, it looks like lump. So much the better, since a bar made mostly of cocoa powder sounds a bit dry.

Is white chocolate really chocolate? What about milk chocolate?

Shades of chocolate. Image credit: André Karwath.

Here is the deal. Chocolate = cocoa mass + sugar + cocoa butter. Milk chocolate adds milk to the equation. White chocolate goes even further and eliminates cocoa mass. It still contains cocoa butter, which is derived from the beans of the cocoa tree, but so are various moisturizers, and we don’t call them chocolate. But I don’t want to debate semantics. If a mixture of cocoa butter, milk and sugar wishes to be treated like white chocolate, who am I to say otherwise?

As for milk chocolate, the credit for this invention goes mainly to Swiss chocolate maker Daniel Peter. It took her several years of work to achieve her goal (the watery quality of the milk thwarted the process). Finally, towards the end of the 19th century, and with the help of Henri Nestlé, who had created an evaporated “milk flour” for use in baby food, Daniel finally succeeded in making the diluted pseudo-chocolate and loved by millions of people. today.

Bean count

Ancient Maya wallet. Image credit: vår resa.

Your parents, grandparents, or other brooding old people may have told you that money doesn’t grow on trees. This was not always the case. The Mayan and Aztec companies that made cocoa-based drinks also used the beans as a unit of currency.

Whether or not cocoa beans could buy your love back then is a question for historians, but looking through the candy section during the month of February, the answer seems to be yes.

It was British chocolatier Richard Cadbury who launched the first box of Valentine’s Day chocolates in the 1860s. He was on to something. In the 20th century, chocolate became a staple in socially sanctioned declarations of love.

Even those who are not in love with the holidays can take heart; the days after Valentine’s Day have fantastic deals on all chocolates whose red ribbons and curved display make them obsolete as stores trot Easter decorations.

* “Theobroma” comes from the Greek and translates as “food of the gods”

† Beans can also be shelled first and then roasted, if you prefer.

‡ Chocolate liqueur is an independent product, which involves both alcohol and chocolate.

This article was originally published in February 2012.

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Cocoa genome sequencing – sciencedaily https://cacaovm.org/cocoa-genome-sequencing-sciencedaily/ Tue, 28 Dec 2010 08:00:00 +0000 https://cacaovm.org/cocoa-genome-sequencing-sciencedaily/ The production of high-quality chocolate and the farmers who grow it will benefit from the chocolatier’s recent sequencing and genome assembly, according to an international team led by Claire Lanaud of CIRAD, France, with Mark Guiltinan of Penn State, and including scientists from 18 other institutions. The team sequenced the DNA of a variety of […]]]>

The production of high-quality chocolate and the farmers who grow it will benefit from the chocolatier’s recent sequencing and genome assembly, according to an international team led by Claire Lanaud of CIRAD, France, with Mark Guiltinan of Penn State, and including scientists from 18 other institutions.

The team sequenced the DNA of a variety of Theobroma cocoa, considered to produce the best chocolate in the world. The Mayans domesticated this variety of Theobroma cocoa, Criollo, about 3,000 years ago in Central America, and it is one of the oldest domesticated tree crops. Today, many growers prefer to grow hybrid cocoa trees which produce inferior chocolate but are more resistant to disease.

“Fine cocoa production is estimated at less than 5 percent of global cocoa production due to its low productivity and susceptibility to disease,” said Guiltinan, professor of plant molecular biology.

The researchers report in the current issue of Genetics of nature “Consumers have shown an increased interest in high quality chocolate made from good quality cocoa and in dark chocolate, containing a higher percentage of cocoa, while also taking into account the environmental and ethical criteria of the production of cocoa. “

Currently, most cocoa farmers earn around $ 2 a day, but fine cocoa farmers earn more. Increasing the productivity and ease of cultivation of cocoa can help develop a sustainable cocoa economy. Trees are now also considered a beneficial crop for the environment, as they grow better in the shade of forests, allowing land rehabilitation and enrichment of biodiversity.

The team’s work has identified a variety of gene families that could have a future impact on improving cocoa trees and fruits, either by improving their attributes or by providing protection against the fungal diseases and insects that affect them. cocoa trees.

“Our analysis of the Criollo genome uncovered the genetic basis of pathways leading to the most important quality traits in chocolate – the biosynthesis of oil, flavonoids and terpenes,” said Siela Maximova, associate professor of horticulture, Penn State. , and member of the research team. “It has also led to the discovery of hundreds of genes potentially involved in resistance to pathogens, all of which can be used to accelerate the development of elite varieties of cocoa in the future.”

Because Criollo trees are self-pollinated, they are generally very homozygous, possessing two identical forms of each gene, making this particular variety a good choice for precise genome assembly.

Researchers have assembled 84 percent of the genome identifying 28,798 genes that code for proteins. They assigned 88 percent or 23,529 of these protein-coding genes to one of the 10 chromosomes of the Criollo cocoa tree. They also looked at microRNAs, short, non-coding RNAs that regulate genes, and found that Criollo microRNAs are likely major regulators of gene expression.

“Interestingly, only 20% of the genome was made up of transposable elements, one of the natural pathways through which genetic sequences change,” Guiltinan said. “They do it by moving around chromosomes, changing the order of genetic material. Smaller amounts of the transposons than those found in other plant species could lead to slower evolution of the chocolate plant, which was found to have a relatively simple evolutionary history in terms of genome structure. “

Guiltinan and his colleagues are interested in specific gene families that may be linked to specific qualities of cocoa or to disease resistance. They hope that mapping these gene families will lead to a source of genes directly involved in plant variations that will be useful in speeding up plant breeding programs.

Researchers have identified two types of disease resistance genes in the Criollo genome. They compared them to previously identified regions on chromosomes that correlate with disease resistance – QTLs – and found that there was a correlation between many locations of QTL resistance genes. The team suggests that a functional genomics approach, which examines what genes do, is needed to confirm potential disease resistance genes in the Criollo genome.

Hidden in the genome, the researchers also discovered genes that code for the production of cocoa butter, a substance highly prized in chocolate making, confectionery, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics. Most cocoa beans already contain around 50 percent fat, but these 84 genes control not only the quantity but the quality of cocoa butter.

Other genes have been found that influence the production of flavonoids, natural antioxidants and terpenoids, hormones, pigments, and flavors. Altering the genes of these chemicals could produce chocolate with better flavors, better aromas, and even healthier chocolate.

Penn State researchers involved in this study include Guiltinan and Maximova; Yufan Zhang and Zi Shi, graduate students, plant biology; Stephen Schuster, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology; John E. Carlson, School of Forest Resources and MJ Axtell and Z. Ma, Department of Biology.

The other researchers involved were from CIRAD; National Institute of Agronomic Research UMR; Genoscope; Scientific Research National Center ; National Genotyping Center; University of Evry; INRA-CNRS LIPM Laboratory of Plant Micro-Organism Interactions; University of Perpignan; Biometrics and Artificial Intelligence Unit; Institute of Plant Sciences; and Chocolaterie Valrhona, all in France.

Also included are researchers from the University of Arizona; Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory; National Center for Agronomic Research, Côte d’Ivoire; CEPLAC, Brazil; and Centro Nacional de Biotecnologia Agricola, Instituto de Estudios Avanzados, Venezuela.

CIRAD, the Agropolis Foundation, the Languedoc Roussillon Region, the National Research Agency (ANR), Valrhona, the Venezuelan Ministry of Science, Technology and Industry, Hershey Corp., the American Cocoa Research Institute Endowment and the National Science Foundation supported this work.

the Theobroma cocoa the genome sequences are deposited in the EMB: / Genbank / DDBJ databases under the accession numbers CACC01000001-CACC01025912. A genomic browser and additional information on the project are available at http://cocoagendb.cirad.fr/gbrowse and http://cocoagendb.cirad.fr.

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