Cacao Evolution Study Could Yield Sweet Results for Chocolate Industry

By Lowenberg, Olivia | The Christian Science Monitor, November 12, 2015 | Go to article overview

Cacao Evolution Study Could Yield Sweet Results for Chocolate Industry


Lowenberg, Olivia, The Christian Science Monitor


A new study finds the cacao tree may be a lot older than scientists thought. And that could be good news for the modern chocolate industry.

Understanding the early history and the early genetic diversity of the cacao tree may contribute to improving current models of sustainability for the chocolate industry. It could also lead to improving current ethical standards for the treatment of workers who produce the world's chocolate supply.

The study, published this month in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, is one of the first to provide a cohesive examination of the evolutionary history of the cacao tree.

"Studies of the evolutionary history of economically important groups are vital to develop agricultural industries, and demonstrate the importance of conserving biodiversity to contribute towards sustainable development. [This study finds] for the first time that the source of chocolate, Theobroma cacao, is remarkably old for an Amazonian plant species," said Dr. James Richardson, tropical botanist at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, UK, and lead author of the study, in a press release.

Just how old is the cacao tree? Dr. Richardson and his colleagues estimate it diverged from its ancestors approximately 10 million years ago, during the Miocene epoch, tens of millions of years after nonavian dinosaurs went extinct and millions of years before humans began to emerge.

The Miocene was a time of developing stability in seed-plant species: the University of California's Museum of Paleontology reports that "by the end of the Miocene 95% of modern seed plant families existed, and that no such families have gone extinct since the middle of the Miocene."

The diversification process produced an enormous amount of genetic diversity within the cacao tree, resulting in the creation of additional species that still may not be fully understood. But the scientists are hoping that their research won't only yield new and yummy flavors of chocolate. They also hope that it will help protect the biodiversity of the cacao tree and its relatives.

"[N]ative populations, which have a history dating back millions of years, may harbor individuals that are resistant to disease or have novel [flavors] which may be utilized in a manner that could contribute to an environmentally and economically sustainable chocolate industry," Dr. Richardson explains in an email to The Christian Science Monitor.

How did the researchers determine that this was the case? …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Cacao Evolution Study Could Yield Sweet Results for Chocolate Industry
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.