NPR had a story this weekend on Cocoa plantation collapse and the ecological aftermath of the changes the witches’ broom fungus Moniliophthora perniciosa has wreaked. The genome sequence project for this Homobasidiomycete fungus (also known as Crinipellis perniciosa, phylogenetic relationships discussed by Aime and Philips-Mora 2005) is underway at the Laboratory Genomica e Expressao at UNICAMP, Brazil. The witches’s broom (not this witches’ broom) is named because of the bristly form it induces in the cacao plants.
The genome project will hopefully improve the diagnosis and treatment work that is needed. Beyond the insatiable need for chocolate, the NPR story does talk about the impact on farmers, the economy, and the environment with the loss of these cacao plantations.
- A Not-So-Sweet Lesson from Brazil’s Cocoa Farms
- Witches’ Broom and Frosty Pod waft deadly through the jungle night
- Link from Ohio State University Cacao disease research
- STATUS OF CACAO WITCHES’ BROOM: Biology, Epidemiology, and Management, Annual Review of Phytopathology