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Development of a Marker Assisted Selection Program for Cacao

December 2007 , Volume 97 , Number  12
Pages  1,664 - 1,669

R. J. Schnell, D. N. Kuhn, J. S. Brown, C. T. Olano, W. Phillips-Mora, F. M. Amores, and J. C. Motamayor

First, second, third, and fourth authors: USDA-ARS Subtropical Horticulture Research Station (SHRS), 13601 Old Cutler Road, Miami, FL 33158; fifth author: Centro Agronómico Tropical de Investigación y Enseñanza (CATIE), Turrialba, Costa Rica; sixth author: Instituto Nacional Autónomo de Investigaciones Agropecuarias (INIAP), Pichilingue, Ecuador; and seventh author: Mars, Inc. c/o USDA-ARS SHRS, 13601 Old Cutler Road, Miami, FL 33158.

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Production of cacao in tropical America has been severely affected by fungal pathogens causing diseases known as witches' broom (WB, caused by Moniliophthora perniciosa), frosty pod (FP, caused by M. roreri) and black pod (BP, caused by Phytophthora spp.). BP is pan-tropical and causes losses in all producing areas. WB is found in South America and parts of the Caribbean, while FP is found in Central America and parts of South America. Together, these diseases were responsible for over 700 million US dollars in losses in 2001 (4). Commercial cacao production in West Africa and South Asia are not yet affected by WB and FP, but cacao grown in these regions is susceptible to both. With the goal of providing new disease resistant cultivars the USDA-ARS and Mars, Inc. have developed a marker assisted selection (MAS) program. Quantitative trait loci have been identified for resistance to WB, FP, and BP. The potential usefulness of these markers in identifying resistant individuals has been confirmed in an experimental F1 family in Ecuador.

Additional keywords:molecular breeding, Theobroma cacao.

The American Phytopathological Society, 2007