Academic journal article Science and Children

Better Chocolate?

Academic journal article Science and Children

Better Chocolate?

Article excerpt

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

The team sequenced the DNA of a variety of Theobroma cacao, considered to produce the world's finest chocolate. The Maya domesticated this variety of T. cacao, 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 cacao trees that produce chocolate of lower quality but are more resistant to disease.

"Fine cocoa production is estimated to be less than 5% of the world cocoa production because of low productivity and disease susceptibility," Guiltinan said.

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The researchers report in Nature Genetics that "consumers have shown an increased interest for high-quality chocolate made with cocoa of good quality and for dark chocolate, containing a higher percentage of cocoa, while also taking into account environmental and ethical criteria for cocoa production. …

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