US researchers have competed sequencing the DNA of Theobroma cacao from which we get all our chocolate.
Funded by Mars Inc. (of Mars Bar fame), this research is set to lead to improvements in chocolate farming technology and help six million small farmers in some of the world’s poorest countries.
There are now over 180 organisms for which we have the complete genetic sequence. The list makes interesting reading – rice, yeast, the puffer fish and bubonic plague are some of the lucky chosen ones.
The UK newspaper the Guardian has noticed this research into cacao DNA leads to an amusing and rather humbling conclusion. We humans have about 30,000 genes; cacao has around to have 35, 000 genes and wheat has an impressive 40, 000.
So, to quote the Guardian directly,
“…..on a numerical basis, a human seems genetically less complex than a chocolate biscuit. But it was the humans who sequenced wheat and cacao, and not the other way round. So clearly, size isn’t everything.”
Something to think about over our weekend chocolate treats….