Location: Subtropical Horticulture Research
2013 Annual Report
The cacao genome sequencing project will generate a large amount of Single Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNP) data that will be selected to establish a high throughput SNP genotyping platform. The selection of the SNPs and their utilization for diversity and association mapping studies, requires bionformatic analytical support. A post doctoral fellow (or later research associate, depending on rank) will be hired to work in the laboratory and the Center for Genomics and Personalized Medicine at the Stanford University School of Medicine. The post-doctoral fellow will perform the required analyses for the SNPs studies. Other scientific activities, within the context of the cacao genome project, will also benefit from bioinformatics expertise in the lab and the CGPM. Specifically, the department and center’s expertise on the study of gene expression and the action of microRNAs will be of great value for the analysis of the gene expression data that have been generated to understand the genetic determinism of self incompatibility in cacao.
The genome of Theobroma grandiflorum, a related species showing significant traits of importance such as disease resistance, will be sequenced and compared to the cacao genome. This comparison will help identifying key genes involved in the domestication of cacao. The sequencing project also comprises the study of important diseases affecting cacao; The lab and specifically the post-doctoral fellow hired to support the activities outlined in this SCA will contribute to the assembly of the genome of main diseases affecting cacao. For example, P. megakarya has a detrimental impact in cacao production, causing hundreds of millions of dollars in damages to West African cacao producer countries.
The cooperator has continued generating data and developing resources for the Cacao Genome Sequencing Project. A contribution to the analyses of pod color for the association analysis revealed that a synonymous SNP in the MYB domain R2R3 protein is part of a motif that modulates SNP color by impeding/allowing the degradation of mRNA of the gene. Efforts in the past year we have concentrated in (a) the sequencing of 150 accessions of cacao (work performed as part of an agreement with MARS Incorporated) with primary aim to understand the evolutionary history of cacao and deploy sets of known single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) for marker-assisted breeding programs, and (b) the population genetic analysis of newly sampled populations from Bolivia and Peru using microsatellite information.