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Crop Biotech Update

Enhancement of Somatic Embryogenesis in Theobroma cacao through TcBBM Overexpression

May 20, 2015

Propagation of varieties of Theobroma cacao has been done through somatic embryogenesis (SE). However, low efficiencies and genotype dependence still limits propagation at commercial scales. The Pennsylvania State University's Wayne Curtis aims to use transcription factor Babyboom (BBM) to promote the transition of somatic cacao cells from the vegetative to embryonic.

An ortholog of the Arabidopsis thaliana BBM gene (AtBBM) was characterized in cacao (TcBBM). TcBBM was found to be expressed throughout embryo development and was highly expressed during SE. TcBBM overexpression in A. thaliana and T. cacao led to phenotypes with SE that did not require hormones. Constitutive overexpression of TcBBM significantly increased SE proliferation but inhibited development.

Results show that TcBBM has a specific role in both somatic and zygotic embryogenesis. Results from transient expression of TcBBM confirms that transcription factors can be used to enhance SE.

For more information on the study, read the full article on BioMed Central.