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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Sustainable Perennial Crops Laboratory » Research » Research Project #436556

Research Project: Identification and Conservation of Fine Flavored Cacao Varieties (Theobroma cacao)

Location: Sustainable Perennial Crops Laboratory

Project Number: 8042-21000-303-003-N
Project Type: Non-Funded Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Jun 1, 2019
End Date: May 1, 2024

The objective is to identify important fine flavored cacao varieties at the molecular level so that these and related types can be preserved and utilized. The Cooperator’s members are interested in the conservation of fine flavored cacao types that are the basis for the growth of their industry. FCIA has initiated Heirloom Cacao Preservation Initiative to find and preserve fine flavored cacao. Both the Cooperator and ARS are interested in the development and finds of this initiative. Various members of the association have the expertise to identify, evaluate and locate fine flavored cacao type from around the world and will be participating in this project.

The Cooperator and its members will identify fine flavored cacao types from around the world and will work with ARS and in-country collaborators/growers to acquire leaf samples for DNA testing. ARS will determine the molecular identification of these varieties so that each type will have a genetic ID that can be used as a reference for that type. The DNA analysis protocols and ID references will be established by ARS and made available to the Cooperator so that other sources of DNA analysis can be acquired for routine analysis. All cacao material and genetic ID data will be managed through Material Transfer Agreements and on completion will be transferred to the International databases along with any additional information that is known about these fine flavored cacao varieties. This information will be used by both ARS and the Cooperator to jointly develop conservation and utilization systems that preserve the unique flavor traits of these varieties. The Cooperator will work with producers and producing countries to develop long-term conservation schemes and increase the production of these unique cacao types though on-farm conservation.