Litter bugs may protect chocolate supply

    Litter bugs may protect chocolate supply

    chocolate litter bug petri dishesResearchers at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI), located in Panama, have made a new discovery about cacao plants. Apparently, the bacteria and fungi on adult cacao trees protect them from disease, and when these microbes were spread to the leaves of baby trees, their chances of catching Phytopthora palmivora was reduced by 50%. Phytopthora palmivora is a common disease and killer of cacao plants, and one of the top reasons cacao plant populations have been decreasing. One of the most common fungi the found on the cacao seedlings was a protector, Colletotricum tropicale. It was also much more common on the leaves of young plants grown with leaf litter from healthy cacao adults. What this means is that C. tropicale was able to quickly get into young leaves and crowd out other microbes, including P. palmivora, which keeps them from growing. This research on plant relatives sharing their microbiomes sheds light on how to protect cacao crops, and will hopefully lead to a larger-scale movement across other plant species. Find the full story on Science Daily.

    Published on: Jul 11, 2017

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