From 1994 to 2001, molecular characterisation was done using RAPD analysis, with the completion of over 600 accessions. This technique provides information used to assess the genetic diversity within the germplasm collection.
Genetic diversity studies are used to identify cacao types that are over- or under-represented in the ICGT, to assess the degree of homogeneity within accession groups and the genetic distances between them. Information on genetic diversity within and between populations is vital to the selection of populations for inclusion in germplasm enhancement and breeding programmes of the future.
Since 2001, we have adopted microsatellite analysis (Simple Sequence Repeats, SSR) for verification work. The task of verifying every tree in the ICGT (over 11000 trees) is enormous, so it is necessary to set priorities to arrive at achievable targets in the short- and medium-term.
Clones identified as having desirable traits (such as disease resistance, good yield potential, high butterfat content or beans of superior flavour) will be given high priority for verification.
More on the International Cocoa Genebank, Trinidad