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Mars collaborative scientists map cocoa genome

September 24th, 2010

A group of scientists led by confectioner Mars, IBM and the US Department of Agriculture is released their research into the preliminary genome sequence for the cacao tree.

The particular cultivar that was sequenced – Matina 1-6 – forms the basis of 99% of the world’s cocoa, and is a promising first step in advancing farmers’ ability to plant more robust, higher yielding and drought and disease-resistant trees.

“Genome sequencing helps eliminate much of the guess-work of traditional crop cultivation,” says Howard-Yana Shapiro, Ph.D., global staff officer of plant science and research at Mars.

Ajay Royyuru, senior manager at IBM Computational Biology Center, says, “By assembling the sequence fragments into the complete genome sequence and developing a detailed genetic map, we can help maximize the potential yield and income for cocoa farmers and catalyze future research and endeavours involving the cacao tree.”

The results of the research will be made available to the public with permanent access via the Cacao Genome Database www.cacaogenomedb.org.

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