Scientists decode genetic make-up of chocolate tree and woodland strawberry

Scientists decode genetic make-up of chocolate tree and woodland strawberry

An international team of scientists led by the French organisation CIRAD, have identified plants’ genes that could probably be responsible for flavour, aroma, nutritional value, and response to disease.

CIRAD researcher Xavier Argout and his colleague Claire Lanaud, who decoded the genetic make-up of the chocolate tree and woodland strawberry to examine the biological parts inside each crop, are of the opinion that the study will help produce hardier and more disease-resistant plants, along with leading to more scrumptious treats.

For the study, the scientists selected Criollo - a variety of the Theobroma cacao chocolate tree that was first domesticated by the Maya, nearly 3,000 years back. The 28,798 genes that the researchers identified included two types which shield the plant against disease; a group of genes which help in making of cocoa butter; genes influencing levels of natural antioxidants, and hormones; and those which give aroma, colour, and flavour to the chocolate.

With some trees being susceptible to disease and, thus, producing lower yields, scientists are hopeful that the genetic code will help breed more productive varieties as well as develop a sustainable cocoa economy.

In a separate study, scientists also reported the genetic composition of the woodland strawberry; based on the analysis of a fruit called Fragaria vesca, which is fairly akin to the cultivated strawberry but biologically less complex. It was found that the fruit's genome bears genes that are linked to flavour, flowering, and disease resistance.


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