TO BE THE WORLD LEADER IN COCOA BIOTECHNOLOGY

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RESEARCH PROJECTS

1. AGRO-BIOTECHNOLOGY

The main objectives are to develop and generate new technologies and knowledge in cocoa biotechnology that will contribute to improved productivity and production efficiency:

1. Tissue Culture: Somatic embryogenesis and plant regeneration for the mass propagation of superior trees and as a platform for genetic engineering
2. Genome Analysis: Molecular fingerprinting of cocoa accessions to estimate genetic similarities and degree of heterozygosity and molecular mapping to identify markers closely-linked to valuable agronomic traits like resistance to diseases and the cocoa pod borer (CPB) moth
3. Gene Expression: Proteomic analysis to detect proteins differentially expressed in CPB-resistant and CPB-susceptible pods in order to identify alleles that contribute to CPB resistance
4. Genetic Engineering: Primarily for CPB resistance by expressing both endotoxins from Bacillus thuringiensis and protease inhibitors in pods
5. Endophytes for Disease and Insect Pest Control: Identification for fungal endophytes that are antagonistic to Phytophthora palmivora (black pod) and Oncobasidium theobromae (vascular streak dieback) or pathogenic to CPB, and to introduce these endophytes into trees for long-lasting, passive, and effective control of these diseases and pests

  • Cocoa Genetic Linkage Map
  • Molecular Fingerprinting of Cocoa Clones
  • Molecular Markers for Selection of Shorter Cocoa Trees
  • Propagation By Somatic Embryogenesis
  • Regulatory Gene Expression in Developing Cocoa Pods
  • Pest-resistant cocoa via in vitro technology and genetic transformation: 4. Refinement of a genetic transformation system
  • Development of Cocoa Trees Resistant to Pod Borer
  • Artificial Diet for Cocoa Pod Borer: A Tool for Insect Pest Management
  • High Flavour Malaysian Cocoa
  • Specialty Cocoa Beans
  • Biological Control of Cocoa Disease using Endophytic Microorganisms


    2. FOOD BIOTECHNOLOGY

    The objectives are to develop and enhance the quality of cocoa products as well as to improve the health benefits of cocoa-based products:

    1. Metabolome Analysis To create separate populations of specialty trees that produce beans with exceptionally high butter, high or low caffeine, high polyphenol (antioxidant), high cocoa flavor, or high flavor notes (nutty, floral, fruity) by non-destructively microanalyzing individual zygotic embryos for these traits and propagating those embryos with the best characteristics
    2. Biotechnology Product Development: Incorporating the prebiotic inulin into chocolate in order to encourage the growth of beneficial bacteria in the intestine and creating chocolates with high levels of healthful polyphenols
    3. Bean Quality: Improving the quality of beans by identifying alleles of storage proteins that contribute most to cocoa flavor and planting trees with only those alleles

  • Prebiotic Chocolate


    3. PHARMACEUTICAL BIOTECHNOLOGY

    The objectives are to develop and diversify new products by discovering novel and useful bioactive compounds from the cocoa tree:

    1. Pharmaceutical Product Development Discovery of anti-bacterial compounds from cocoa

  • Antimicrobial Compounds from Cocoa Tissues Against Human Pathogens
  • Hepatoprotective Effect of Polyphenols