1a.Objectives (from AD-416):
To focus on the genetic analyses of disease mechanisms of various pathogens of Theobroma cacao that affects its production. This includes the comparison of phytopathogenic genomic characteristics, gene discovery, functional and bioinformatics analyses. This data will be used to develop disease models; identify candidate genes and study gene function and expression. This agreement will formalize the research collaboration between Cooperator and USDA/ARS to facilitate the objectives stated above. This agreement will facilitate the development and implementation of novel approaches to control diseases of cacao and control measures that are consistent with sustainable crop production strategies.
1b.Approach (from AD-416):
The USDA-ARS and the State University of Campinas (UNICAMP) actively promotes research to improve sustainable crop production through environmentally safe means. The project will emphasize the coordination of research approaches and attempt to promote disease control by incorporating bio-control strategies, cultural practices, and disease resistance in cacao to capitalize on the molecular makeup of both the host and pathogen genomes. Working cooperatively, both parties will work to develop, analyze and utilize transcriptome data of cacao disease and disease causing organisms. The agreement allows for the exchange of visiting scientists from the Cooperator and ARS to fully implement this agreement. The agreement will promote international partnerships, research collaborations and cooperation with the USDA-ARS.
This agreement benefits ARS by providing a key link to one of the major research Universities in Brazil. Through this agreement, we are working with researchers and bioinformaticians to understand the underlying mechanisms of plant diseases. Genomic and gene expression projects are being conducted independently at UNICAMP and ARS and once completed will be utilized to compare key aspects of cacao disease. A new project to understand the molecular mechanisms of the lethal wilt disease of cacao has been initiated through this agreement. This plant disease is caused by Ceratocystis cacaofunesta and is an emerging problem in South American cacao producing regions.