Thursday, May 08, 2008

Criollo Origins

Since the mid-1960s there's been something of a controversy as to whether Criollo cacao was descended from Amazonian varieties or ocurred spontaneously in central America. (Readers of Coe's True History of Chocolate might be familiar with that latter idea...)

Well, thanks to the wonders of modern genetic testing, recent studies have established quite clearly that the first hypothesis is true--namely, that Theobroma Cacao originated just once in the Amazon basin, and that human selection, domestication and hybridization led to the type of tree we now refer to as 'Criollo'.

The genetic analysis of T. Cacao is just beginning to scratch the surface of this tree's complex history, and it will be fascinating to see what upcoming studies continue to reveal.

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