Ge­net­i­cally en­gi­neered cho­co­late

How It Works - - TECHNOLOGY -

One of the big­gest threats to the cho­co­late in­dus­try is the in­creased level of Theo­broma ca­cao plants that are be­com­ing in­fected by dis­ease. Around one-fifth of ca­cao pods are rav­aged by dis­ease be­fore they can be har­vested. Re­searchers at Penn­syl­va­nia State Univer­sity be­lieve ge­netic en­gi­neer­ing with the CRISPR-CAS9 tech­nique could pro­vide a so­lu­tion.

This would work by re­mov­ing the ge­netic se­quence in the plant’s DNA that sup­presses its abil­ity to fight in­fec­tion. Af­ter ar­ti­fi­cially in­fect­ing en­gi­neered leaves, the plants ap­peared to be more suc­cess­ful in fight­ing dis­ease, how­ever, the team will still need to wait for the en­tire tree to grow and test its fruit be­fore they will know if the process has worked.

Ca­cao pods are be­ing rav­aged by dis­ease world­wide

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