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April 17, 2015

By Jeff Mulhollem April 16, 2015 UNIVERSITY PARK, PA. -- The discovery of a gene involved in determining the melting point of cocoa butter -- a critical attribute of the substance widely used in foods and pharmaceuticals -- will likely lead to new and improved products, according to researchers in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences.

Phylogenetic Tree of Cacao Fatty Acid Desaturase Genes
March 31, 2015

In plants, the conversion of stearoyl-ACP to oleoyol-ACP is catalyzed by a plastid-localized soluble stearoyl-acyl carrier protein (ACP) desaturase (SAD). The activity of SAD significantly impacts the ratio of saturated and unsaturated fatty acids, and is thus a major determinant of fatty acid composition. The cacao genome contains eight putative SAD isoforms with high amino acid sequence similarities and functional domain conservation with SAD genes from other species. The identification of the major SAD gene responsible for cocoa butter biosynthesis provides new strategies for screening for novel genotypes with desirable fatty acid compositions, and for use in breeding programs to help pyramid genes for quality and other traits such as disease resistance.

Root structure of somatic embryo derived cacao plant in field
March 30, 2015

Goenaga, R., Guiltinan, M., Maximova, S., Seguine, E. & Irizarry, H. Yield Performance and Bean Quality Traits of Cacao Propagated by Grafting and Somatic Embryo-derived Cuttings. HortScience 50, 358-362 (2015).

August 26, 2014

It is increasingly recognized that macro-organisms (corals, insects, plants, vertebrates) consist of both host tissues and multiple microbial symbionts that play essential roles in their host's ecological and evolutionary success. Consequently, identifying benefits and costs of symbioses, as well as mechanisms underlying them are research priorities. hus, the benefits of increased pathogen resistance in E+ plants are derived in part from up-regulation of intrinsic host defense responses, and appear to be offset by potential costs including reduced photosynthesis, altered host nitrogen metabolism, and endophyte heterotrophy of host tissues. Similar effects are likely in most plant-endophyte interactions, and should be recognized in the design and interpretation of genetic and phenotypic studies of plants.

July 21, 2014

Genome-wide analysis reveals divergent patterns of gene expression during zygotic and somatic embryo maturation of Theobroma cacao L., the chocolate tree: Siela N Maximova, Sergio Florez, Xiangling Shen, Nicolas Niemenak, Yufan Zhang, Wayne Curtis and Mark J Guiltinan BMC Plant Biology 2014, 14:185 doi:10.1186/1471-2229-14-185

July 9, 2014

Zhang Y, Smith P, Maximova SN, Guiltinan MJ: Application of glycerol as a foliar spray activates the defence response and enhances disease resistance of Theobroma cacao. Molecular Plant Pathology doi:10.1111/mpp.12158 (2014). http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/mpp.12158/abstract

July 1, 2014

Huck scientists find Theobroma cacao trees' natural disease defense is bolstered by glycerol foliar treatment

April 27, 2014

Zhang, Y., Clemens, A., Maximova, S. N. & Guiltinan, M. J. The Theobroma cacao B3 domain transcription factor TcLEC2 plays a duel role in control of embryo development and maturation. BMC Plant Biol 14, 106, doi:10.1186/1471-2229-14-106 (2014).

Left to Right: Abu Dadzie, Lena Shaeaffer, Desire Pokou and Grace Garbini, discussing the isolation of three genes from cacao potentially involved in disease resistance.
September 13, 2013

We are hosting the visits of two outstanding cacao scientists from West Africa. Desire Pokou (Ivory Coast) and Abu Dadzie (Ghana) are both cacao breeders and involved in using the new tools of molecular markers to help accelerate breeding programs.

U.S. Department of Agriculture Under Secretary for Research Education Cathie Woteki, left, and U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsak, third from left, toured a laboratory in Penn State's Life Sciences Building on May 16, hosted by Assistant Professor of B
June 11, 2012

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack visited Penn State's University Park campus on May 16, accompanied by Cathie Woteki, the U.S. Department of Agriculture under secretary of research education. The visit included tours of research laboratories, a meeting with Penn State faculty and representatives from 4-H and FFA. The one-day visit commemorates the 150th anniversary of both the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Land Grant University System.

June 30, 2011

Award from World Cocoa Foundation was received by Mark Guiltinan at the Annual WCF meeting in San Francisco, CA on behalf of all members of the International Cocoa Genome Sequencing Consortium.

June 23, 2011

Title: Deficiency of maize starch-branching enzyme i results in altered starch fine structure, decreased digestibility and reduced coleoptile growth during germination.

April 20, 2011

Title: Starch Branching Enzyme IIa is required for proper diurnal cycling of starch in leaves of Zea mays.

December 26, 2010

Published in Nature Genetics 43:101-108 (2011). On behalf of the International Cocoa Genome Sequencing Consortium, a collaborative partnership representing20 institutions from 6 countries around the globe, we are pleased to announce the release of our publication. The sequence and its analysis have revealed many amazing discoveries.

September 16, 2010

The sequencing and analysis of the genome for the Criollo variety of the cacao tree, generally considered to produce the world's finest chocolate, was completed by an international team led by Claire Lanaud of CIRAD, France, with Mark Guiltinan of Penn State, and included scientists from 18 other institutions.