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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Miami, Florida » Subtropical Horticulture Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #381969

Research Project: Development and Application of Genomic-assisted Breeding Strategies to Produce Disease-resistant Cacao Genetic Resources

Location: Subtropical Horticulture Research

Title: Genetic purity of cacao criollo from honduras is revealed by ssr molecular markers

item LOPEZ, MARLON - Honduran Foundation For Agricultural Research (FHIA)
item GORI, MASSIMO - University Of Florence
item BINI, LORENZO - University Of Florence
item ORODONEZ, ERICK - National Agricultural University
item DURAN, ERICK - Honduran Foundation For Agricultural Research (FHIA)
item Gutierrez, Osman
item MASONI, ALBERTO - University Of Florence
item GIORDANI, EDGARDO - University Of Florence
item BIRICOLTI, STEFANO - University Of Florence
item PALCHETTI, ENRICO - University Of Florence

Submitted to: Agronomy Journal
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/22/2021
Publication Date: 1/26/2021
Citation: Lopez, M., Gori, M., Bini, L., Orodonez, E., Duran, E., Gutierrez, O.A., Masoni, A., Giordani, E., Biricolti, S., Palchetti, E. 2021. Genetic purity of cacao criollo from honduras is revealed by ssr molecular markers. Agronomy Journal. Volume 11, Issue 2.

Interpretive Summary: Cacao (Theobroma cacao L.) is an important crop in the tropical regions of the world and particularly, in Central America. Lately, the acreage dedicated to this perennial crop in Honduras has increased due to the demand for fine flavor cacao. Criollo cacao producers in Honduras receive a premium price for this product because its white or pale pink seeds are utilized in the manufacturing of premium chocolate. However, since the identification of cacao Criollo in Honduras has been done mainly by phenotypic characterization, it is of importance that Criollo clones currently planted in Honduras be genetically characterized using molecular tools. Criollo cacao clones collected in four regions of Honduras (Copán, Santa Bárbara, Intibucá, and Olancho) were genetically characterized using simple sequence repeat (SSR) molecular markers. Results indicated some of the collected cacao accessions can be classified as members of the Criollo genetic group. Other accessions belong to admixture populations of Criollo with other genetic groups such as Amelonado, Guiana, and Marañon genetic groups. The Cacao Criollo recently identified accessions could be placed in gene banks for in-situ and ex-situ conservation as well as evaluation and characterization.

Technical Abstract: The cultivation of cacao represents an income option and a source of employment for thousands of small producers in Central America. In Honduras, due to the demand for fine flavor cacao to produce high-quality chocolate, the number of hectares planted is increasing. In addition, cacao clones belonging to the genetic group named Criollo are in great demand since their white beans lack of bitterness and excellent aroma are used in the manufacturing of premium chocolate. Unfortunately, the low resistance to pests and diseases and less productivity of Criollo cacao leads to the use of productive and more disease-resistant cultivars belonging to the other genetic groups or admixture. In this study, 89 cacao trees showing phenotypic traits of Criollo cacao from 4 regions of Honduras (Copán, Santa Bárbara, Intibucá, and Olancho) were selected and genetically characterized using 16 SSR molecular markers. The results showed that some samples belong to the Criollo group while other accessions have genetic characteristics of “Trinitario” or other admixtures cacao types. These results confirm the genetic purity of Criollo cacao in Honduras, reaffirming the theory that Mesoamerica is a cacao domestication center and also serves to generate interest in the conservation of this genetic wealth both in-situ and ex-situ.