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Researchers discover gene that controls melting point of cocoa butter
Monday, 2015/05/04 | 08:03:53

Discovery could lead to new chocolates, pharmaceuticals

By Jeff Mulhollem

April 16, 2015

 

 http://news.psu.edu/story/353476/2015/04/16/research/researchers-discover-gene-controls-melting-point-cocoa-butter

 

A team of researchers has discovered the gene involved in determining the melting point of cocoa butter, an important trait for food and pharmaceutical products. The team discovered TcSAD1, the gene primarily involved in the synthesis of cocoa butter and is responsible for its melting point.

 

An earlier study by lead researcher Mark Guiltinan described the stearoyl-acyl carrier protein desaturase (SAD) gene family. In this follow-up research, the SAD gene family is examined in detail, and the expression patterns of each SAD gene in various cacao tissues are explored along with functional analysis to study how the enzyme works.

 

According to Guiltinan, the 'snap' and 'melt' of chocolate are two very important textural features that determine the appeal of chocolate to consumers. He added that new cocoa varieties that produce butter with different melting points would be a valuable resource to control those characteristics.

 

For more details, read the news release from The Pennsylvania State University.

 

Figure: Cacao trees growing at a research facility in Ecuador. Seed-filled pods hang from the branches. Penn State scientist Mark Guiltinan leads a research team studying the genetics behind key traits of the plant.

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