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Genetic variation in bioaccumulation and partitioning of cadmium in Theobroma cacao L.

Lewis, Caleb, Lennon, Adrian M., Eudoxie, Gaius, Umaharan, Pathmanathan
The Science of the total environment 2018 v.640-641 pp. 696-703
Theobroma cacao, beans, bioaccumulation, breeding, cadmium, cocoa beans, cotyledons, gene banks, genetic variation, heavy metals, humans, hybrids, leaves, rootstocks, soil, testa, toxicity, trees, Trinidad and Tobago
Cadmium (Cd) is a non-essential heavy metal that is toxic to both plants and animals and chocolates have been identified as a contributor to the human dietary Cd intake. One hundred accessions representing the various genetic groups and hybrid populations in Theobroma cacao L. held at the International Cocoa Genebank, Trinidad were evaluated for leaf and bean cadmium levels with three tree replications. Representative samples of soil from the drip zone around each tree were evaluated for bioavailable cadmium. Although there were significant differences (P ≤ 0.05) among genetic groups for leaf and bean Cd much of the variation was between accessions. There was a 13-fold variation in bean Cd and a 7-fold variation in leaf Cd between accessions despite the bioavailable Cd in the soil being uniform. There were differences in the level of partitioning into beans evident by significant variation (P ≤ 0.05) in bean Cd as a percentage of the cumulative leaf and bean Cd concentration (15–52%) between accessions. Although in general there was a higher concentration of cadmium in the testa than the cotyledon of the cocoa bean there was considerable genetic variation. These results point to the potential of using a genetic strategy to mitigate cadmium within cocoa beans either through breeding or through the use of low cadmium uptake rootstocks in grafting. The results will fuel further work into the understanding of mechanisms and genetics of cadmium uptake and partitioning in cocoa.