Degree of domestication influences susceptibility of Theobroma cacao to frosty pod rot: a severe disease devastating Mexican cacao

Victor J. Albores-Flores, Graciela García-Guzmán, Francisco J. Espinosa-García, Miguel Salvador-Figueroa


Background: The three-main cacao (Theobroma cacao) varieties cultivated in México are: Criollo, Forastero, and Trinitario. Each variety has a different fruit setting time and has been subjected to several selection stages. The aim of this study was to determine the susceptibility of the three cacao varieties to Frosty pod rot caused by Moniliophthora roreri. We also analyzed the physicochemical properties of the pericarp of the three varieties and its domestication age.

Question: Is there a relationship between the degree of domestication of the cacao variety and its susceptibility to Frosty pod rot?

Studied species: Theobroma cacao fruits.

Study site: A cacao plantation in Chiapas, Mexico.

Methods:  The content of moisture, lignin, phenols, peroxidase activity and hardness of the pericarp were analyzed in the middle zone of healthy fruits at 4, 8 and 12 weeks of development. Number of healthy and infected fruits were recorded every week.

Results: The highest susceptibility to Frosty pod rot was found in the immature stage of fruits from the Criollo variety. The disease was mostly found in the mid-zone of the fruit. The Criollo variety was the most susceptible. This variety showed the highest moisture values and the lowest values of the other measured parameters.

Conclusions: The finest cacao is obtained from the Criollo variety, the one with the highest degree of domestication, and also the most susceptible to frosty pod rot. We suggest using material from wild Criollo populations and from the Forastero and Trinitario varieties in future breeding and selection programs.


Moniliophthora roreri, Theobroma cacao, disease, fruit, infection

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Botanical Sciences is an international peer-reviewed journal that publishes scientific papers in plant sciences. The arguments, figures / schemes / photographs, quality and the general contents of this publication are full responsibility of the authors, and not commit the Editor- in-Chief or the Sociedad Botánica de México.

Botanical Sciences year 8, Vol. 97, No. 1, January-March 2019. Quarterly publication edited and published by Sociedad Botánica de México A.C. ( Editor in Chief Salvador Arias, Jardín Botánico, Instituto de Biología, 3er Circuito s/n, Ciudad Universitaria, Delegación Coyoacán, C.P. 04510. Reserves of Rights to the Exclusive Use No. 04-2017-040716054100-203, digital-ISSN 2007-4476, both granted by the Instituto Nacional del Derecho de Autor. Responsible for updating the page Pedro López, email:, eScire. Last update March 11, 2019.

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