Saving the future of chocolate: New research aims to stop loss of cacao plant

Read the full story from the Agricultural Research Service.

Black pod rot is responsible for the greatest production losses in cacao, primarily because it can be found in every region where cacao is commercially grown. The disease is caused by several species of fungal-like organisms called oomycetes that spread rapidly on cacao pods under humid conditions. Within days of being infected, cacao pods turn black and rotten, rendering them useless for harvesting. An ARS research team found that black pod rot in Hawaii and Puerto Rico is caused by an oomycete called Phytophthora palmivora, which is relatively less aggressive than the oomycete species known to cause black pod rot in other parts of the world. However, Phytophthora palmivora is capable of surviving higher temperatures and is expected to become an increased problem as temperatures rise due to climate change.

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