What: IBM and Mars are working together to sequence and analyze the entire cocoa genome.
Why: Having the cocoa genome map, allows breeding that is faster, easier and with more successful results through conventional or traditional breeding. And smarter cocoa is cocoa that can thrive in increasingly tougher environmental challenges – soil that has been depleted of nutrients, drought or water shortages, and lack of shade, disease and pests.
How: A genome is like a map of all the components (genes or chromosomes) that make up the characteristics of an organism — in this case, cocoa. By understanding the location of all the characteristics, it is easier and quicker to breed cocoa plants that have the characteristics that are desired – high yield, pest or disease resistance, or increased water or nutrient efficiency, usually meaning less use of agrochemicals. Through traditional breeding, plants with the desired characteristic can be grafted onto an existing plant, with much faster and more successful results using techniques that have been used for hundreds of years.
Read the Mars press release here.
IBM’s press release can be found here.