Chocolate maker maps cacao tree genome
Some sweet science news: Researchers have released a nearly complete map of the DNA of the tree that produces the key ingredient in chocolate.
The project to map the cacao genome was funded by candymaker Mars Inc. It finished the sequence just two years into what was supposed to be a five-year project.
Mars, the maker of Snickers, M&Ms and other candies — says it hopes the results could someday lead to more robust, higher-yielding and drought- and disease-resistant trees.
An estimated 2.7 million tonnes of cocoa is produced globally every year, produced primarily by small farms. But crop losses from pests and diseases costs an estimated $700 million to $800 million to farmers each year.
Mars will have spent $10 million on the project by the time it's complete. It worked with partners from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, IBM and researchers at universities across the U.S.