An old cacao collection was renewed and re-established in the field by grafting about 160 clones onto a common rootstock (Amelonado) and adding new clones with known potential for pest and disease resistance. Cacao germplasm will be characterized and evaluated in replicated plots for superior productivity. In collaboration with other scientists, molecular characterization of clones will be assessed and plants arising from various methods of propagation (tissue culture, cuttings, somatic embryos, etc.) will be evaluated for yield in the field. Puerto Rico is an ideal place to evaluate cacao germplasm because the crop is not grown on a commercial scale and offers a variety of soil types and ecological zones in close proximity.
This project was created in 2001 and merged with the Tropical Germplasm project in 2004. In 2001, 179 accessions in the old cacao collection at Mayaguez were analyzed through the use of 14 SSR international primer pairs. Results permitted the elimination of duplicates from the collection and new knowledge on the degree of genetic diversity in it.
Plant species not part of the NPGS at the USDA-ARS Tropical Agriculture Research Station site, but locally accessible could be made available to bona fide researchers. Investigators should contact Dr. Brian Irish to arrange request.