Genome Sequencing Produces Finer, Healthier Chocolate

Sunday - 1/9/2011, 2:31pm EST

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.

An international team, including scientists from the National Science Foundation, sequenced the DNA of a variety of Theobroma cocoa, considered to produce the world's finest chocolate. Many growers currently prefer to grow hybrid cocoa trees that produce chocolate of lower quality more resistant to disease.

Increasing the productivity and ease of growing cacao can help to develop more sustainable economies.

Other genes were found that influence the production of flavonoids, natural antioxidants, hormones, pigments and aromas. Altering the genes for these chemicals might produce chocolate with better flavors, aromas and even healthier chocolate.