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Crop Biotech Update

USDA Scientists Decode Genome of Cacao's Fungal Pathogen

July 13, 2016
Scientists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture sequenced the genome of frosty pod rot fungus (Moniliophthora roreri), which can destroy 90 percent of cacao beans in Central and South America. With the decoded genome, scientists can hasten the development of cacao tree varieties with resistance to the fungus. 

The fungus' genomic sequence helped researchers observe its biotrophic (thriving on living tissue) and necrotrophic (thriving on dead tissue) phases as well as how the fungus survives in cacao plants known to be tolerant to infection. For instance, the researchers are considering that the fungus is changing genetically to allow fast transformation from biotrophic to necrotrophic state.

The results of the discovery are published in Frontiers in Microbiology. Read the news release from USDA for more details.