Latest News

April 24, 2015

"Characterization of a stearoyl-acyl carrier protein desaturase gene family from chocolate tree, Theobroma cacao L" to feature as today's post on our official Facebook page. The post is here -- please consider Sharing: @Press Office: We also linked to the Penn State Press Release -- thank you very much for publicizing the study. We've also tweeted about it -- please consider retweeting:

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.