Why Do We Need to Save the Bugs to Save Chocolates? Find Out!

Scientists at STRI find microbes benefits cocoa plants against pathogen

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Microbes, cocoa plants
chocolates can now be saved with the help of litter bugs. Pixabay
  • Scientist identified microbes which could save baby cacao plants from becoming infected with pathogens
  • Colletotrichum tropicale protect plants from potential enemies
  • Scientists gives us reasons to think twice before considering anti-littering

Washington D.C, JULY 18, 2017: Scientists at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) in Panama, in their recent study found that exposing baby cacao plants to microbes from healthy adult cacao plants reduced the plant’s chance of becoming infected with the serious cacao pathogen, Phytophthora palmivora, by half. Microbes benefit plants against pathogens and other destructive diseases.

Here’s what seems to be good news for chocolate lovers! Researchers at STRI have found that Colletotrichum tropicale adds to the plants’ longevity apart from defending it against harmful diseases. This could help in the future, saving thousands of cacao plants. Cacao plants are prevalent in the regions of tropical South America.

“When human babies pass through the birth canal, their bodies pick up a suite of bacteria and fungi from their mother. These microbes strengthen their immune system and make the baby healthier,” said Natalie Christian, a doctoral student at the University of Indiana and lead author of the paper. “We showed that an analogous process happens in plants: adult cacao trees also pass along protective microbes to baby cacao plants,” added Christian.

According to ANI report, the researchers at STRI have carried out a research work for the past 20 years, investigating the relationship between the plants and the microbes.  “A mother tree can infect her babies with pathogens that can kill them if they are too close by. In this most recent study, we show that parents can also have a positive effect by supplying babies with good microbiota.”  STRI staff scientist and co-author, Allen Herre. The study has been postulated in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Cacao or cocoa tree’s seeds are processed into cocoa butter, chocolate, and cocoa powder. The trees often suffer damage ranging from 30 to 100 percent of their crops. However, with the recent breakthrough, some of the damages can be prevented resulting in the ample supply of cocoa products.

– Prepared by Puja Sinha. Twitter @pujas1994