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Morphological characterisation and evaluation of cacao (Theobroma cacao L.) in Trinidad to facilitate utilisation of Trinitario cacao globally

  • Frances L. BekeleEmail author
  • Gillian G. Bidaisee
  • Harjit Singh
  • Duraisamy Saravanakumar
Research Article

Abstract

Cacao (Theobroma cacao L.) accessions conserved at the International Cocoa Genebank Trinidad (ICGT) are routinely characterised and evaluated in terms of traits of taxonomic and economic interest. The resulting data are crucial for selecting suitable candidates for future germplasm utilisation and breeding. In this study, the distribution of traits of taxonomic and economic interest was examined among Trinitario accession groups, represented by 260 accessions, and compared to what pertains for the 1900 genotypes characterised at the ICGT. Among the 1900 accessions studied, the Pod Index, an indicator of yield potential, ranged from 13.9 to 92.8. Twenty-three percent of the accessions with superior yield potential (Pod Index of 21 or lower) were ‘Trinitarios’, including the best. Despite a significantly negative correlation (r = − 0.162, P < 0.0001) between seed mass and seed number of the accessions studied, several Trinitarios combined large seed number (44 or more) with large seed (cotyledon) mass (1.2 g or more). The Trinitarios selected in Trinidad were observed to be phenotypically closely related. Trinitarios with high yield potential, large seed size and other favourable traits were identified. They are potentially useful sources of genes for introgression into Trinitario planting material in fine or flavour cocoa producing countries, which provide premium cocoa to an ever expanding global niche market. The resulting economic and social benefits of improvement in Trinitario cacao planting material should be significant.

Keywords

Breeding Cacao Cocoa Fine or flavour cocoa Trinitario Yield potential 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We acknowledge the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago and Cocoa Research Association, UK for financial support of this research. The Director of the Cocoa Research Centre, Prof. P. Umaharan, former Heads of the Cocoa Research Unit, Drs. D.R. Butler and A.J. Kennedy, and the late Prof. J.A. Spence are recognised for administrative support. The statistical advice of Dr. I. Bekele is gratefully acknowledged as well as useful discussions with Drs. E.S. Johnson, J. Engels, Albertus Eskes, C. Lanaud and C. Cilas. J. Bhola, Dr. W. Mollineau, V. Badall, A. Richardson-Drakes, N. Persad, S. Samnarine, C. Jagroop and other individuals are gratefully acknowledged for technical assistance at various times during the period of study. The helpful comments of an anonymous reviewer are also gratefully acknowledged.

Funding

This study was funded by Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago and the Cocoa Research Association, UK.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Cocoa Research CentreThe University of the West IndiesSt. AugustineTrinidad and Tobago
  2. 2.Faculty of Food and AgricultureThe University of the West IndiesSt. AugustineTrinidad and Tobago
  3. 3.Department of Food Production, Faculty of Food and AgricultureThe University of the West IndiesSt. AugustineTrinidad and Tobago

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