CRUK Research Projects (39)

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Supply of planting materials to farmers

Funded by CRUK and Bioversity International/CGIAR/Mars/CRA Ltd
(2012 to 2016)
Researchers: B. Laliberte, M. End, S. Weise
The review, coordinated by Bioversity International, presents an impartial, evidence-based review of cacao propagation methods, to serve as a basis for the assessment and implementation of strategies for providing farmers with quality planting materials, adapted to current and future needs (cultural, institutional, technical, environmental and financial). It describes the various propagation methods available for the production and supply of large numbers of cacao plants to growers. It is hoped that the result of the efforts of the key authors provides a basis to build on for case-specific recommendations. As the supply of new improved planting material to farmers is at the heart of improving cocoa productivity and modernizing the crop, we hope that the information in the review will make its way into national cocoa plans, and help to make cocoa farming more attractive and more sustainable. The full review is available from http://www.bioversityinternational.org/e-library/publications/detail/supplying-new-cocoa-planting-material-to-farmers-a-review-of-propagation-methodologies/

Studies on vectors of CSSV

Funded by CRUK
» University of Reading
(2014 to 2015)
Researcher: Dr. A.Wetten
A six month study to improve our understanding of the basic processes underlying CSSV infection of cacao thereby supporting programmes for the control of the disease. The main objective of this project is to characterise the feeding behaviour of CSSV vector and non-vector mealybugs, and thus the factors that influence virus transmission using the Electrical Penetration Graph (EPG) technique but other potential vectors will also be studied.

The Development of a Platform for Climate Change Research on Cocoa

Funded by CRUK
» University of Reading
(2017 to 2021)
Researchers: Dr. Andrew Daymond/Prof. Paul Hadley, Dr. Fiona Lahive
This five year project at the University of Reading stands to make a substantial contribution to our understanding of the potential impact of climate change on cocoa production, and towards strategies to mitigate these effects. The project builds on previous CRUK supported research and aims to: • Provide a broader understanding of the impacts of climate change on yield and quality in cocoa and synthesise knowledge gained on the impact of climate change on cocoa into a predictive physiological model. • Develop tools for breeders to identify resilience to abiotic stresses. • Examine ways in which the impacts of climate change can be ameliorated in the field through climate-ready strategies. • As far as possible work in collaboration with research institutions in cocoa producing countries and other academic institutions interested in the effects of climate change on cocoa cropping, including a proposal being developed by Bioversity and partners known as the CFCE (Collaborative Framework for Cacao Evaluation). The research will be undertaken largely in the controlled environment facilities at the University of Reading but it is anticipated that it will establish linkages with field studies in cocoa producing countries.

Verticillium wilt in DR Congo and Uganda

Funded by CRUK and University of Aberdeen and Esco
» University of Reading
(2017 to 2019)
Researcher: Prof. Stephen Woodward and Dr. Eric Boa
This project sets out to gain a better understanding of Verticillium wilt and how it can managed in the cocoa growing area in DR Congo (DRC) and Uganda. A PhD student will be developing methods to detect the pathogen and assess its distribution and genetic diversity. The project is largely supported by the University of Aberdeen and Esco with a contribution from CRUK.

Sustained Prosperity from Improved Cocoa Cultivars: The Mabang Megakarya Selection Programme (MMSP) 2012-2016

Funded by CRUK and COCOBOD, Embassy of the Netherlands, Accra, Mondelez International, Mars, GCGRA
» Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana
(2013 to 2018)
Researcher: Mr. E.Nsiah
The supply of improved planting materials to farmers is a vital component in ensuring the sustainability of cocoa production. A public/private partnership between Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Ghana, GCGRA and its sister organisation CR(UK) Ltd, Mars and Mondelez International will contribute over €4million to the continuation of a major breeding programme, the Mabang Megakarya Selection Programme (MMSP) over four years. MMSP’s work will lead to Ghana’s seed gardens supplying farmers with new varieties which have been tested for their performance in an area affected by the devastating Megakarya form of Black Pod disease. In the longer term it will also develop improved clonal varieties which will be at the heart of the modernisation of cocoa production.

Physiological Characterisation of the International Cocoa Quarantine Centre Germplasm Collection

Funded by CRUK
» University of Reading
(2015 to 2016)
Researchers: Dr. Andrew Daymond/Prof. Paul Hadley, Dr. Fiona Lahive
A 16 month post-doctoral project to screen the accessions in the International Cocoa Quarantine Centre (ICQC) at the University of Reading for traits which are likely to affect their yield potential and stress resilience with a view to identifying interesting materials for priority inclusion in breeding work. The project also involved a study period at the International Cocoa Genebank, Trinidad with the Cocoa Research Centre (UWI, Trinidad)to evaluate some of the same clones grown under field conditions.

Identification of Selection Traits to Maximise Cocoa Productivity and Quality in a Changing Environment.

Funded by CRUK
» University of Reading
(2010 to 2016)
Researchers: Prof.P.Hadley, Dr. A.Daymond, Dr. J.Dunwell
A project involving two PhD students to investigate the potential effects of climate change on the growth, physiology and quality of different genotypes of cocoa. The research will be largely undertaken in the new controlled environment glass house facilities at the University of Reading which allow the quantification of factors such as temperature, CO2 and water stress. Fiona Lahive published her PhD thesis entitled "An examination of the impacts of climate change variables on growth and photosynthesis in Theobroma cacao L." in 2015. Her research showed that the responses and interactions varied according to the age of the plants (seedling v older budded plants), and that there were some differences in these responses amongst the limited number of genotypes studied. Liam Handley studied the effects of environmental variables on flower and fruit development. He found that water deficit and CO2 levels did affect characteristics such as pod growth rate, bean weight and fat content though the effects differed between the harvest periods.

Joint Modelling of Spatial Variation and Competition Effects in Cocoa Breeding Trials Using Generalised Linear Mixed Models

Funded by CRUK
» University of Reading
» Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana
(2011 to 2015)
Researcher: Dr. F.Baksh & Dr. E. Allan
This PhD project involved the application of modern statistical techniques to the design and analysis of cocoa breeding programmes and field experiments. Frank Owusu Ansah published his thesis entitled "Methodology For Joint Modelling Of Spatial Variation And Competition Effects In The Analysis Of Varietal Selection Trials" in 2015. The model was developed by extending an existing model by relaxing the assumptions about the competition component to allow for more realistic options and to cope with multiple tree plot layout while simultaneously modelling fertility effects. Autoregressive and cubic spline terms were used to model the competition and fertility effects respectively. An evaluation of the new model indicated its relative superiority in giving efficient and reliable conclusions for both plot and tree level analyses. The comparative advantage of this model over existing methods is demonstrated using data from Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana

Variation in uptake and partitioning of Cadmium within contrasting cocoa genotypes and methods of reducing Cadmium accumulation.

Funded by CRUK
» University of Reading
(2010 to 2015)
Researchers: P. Hadley, J. Dunwell, N.Cryer, I.Ullah
A post-doctoral research project to investigate the genetic and soil/root environment factors affecting cadmium uptake by cocoa with a view to developing molecular tools to screen for rootstock varieties which accumulate less cadmium even when grown in volcanic soils which contain naturally higher levels.

Proteomic Analysis of Witches' Broom Disease of Cocoa.

Funded by CRUK and LNV Sustainable Cocoa Subsidy Scheme (Dutch Buffer Stock)
» University of Aberystwyth
(2006 to 2010)
Researcher: Dr. G. Griffith & Dr. I. Scott
A post-graduate research project co-funded by the Government of the Netherlands and CRUK to study changes in host metabolism between resistant and susceptible varieties at the biochemical level. The research included the development of new method to quantify the amount of fungus in planta using a realtime quantitative PCR technique and studied the occurence and changes in proteins associated with different strains of fungus during the infection process.

A West Africa-wide survey of Cocoa Swollen Shoot Virus (CSSV) and associated viruses

Funded by CRUK
» University of Reading
» Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana
(2010 to 2012)
Researchers: Wetten, A.
A post-doctoral research project to gain a better understanding of the distribution, movement and strain profile of the pathogens responsible for CSSV. A 454 sequencing approach will be used to rapidly and cost-effectively characterise CSSV strains in samples collected from sites throughout West Africa. Information will also be gathered on the extent of non-CSSV viruses and the role of indigenous plant species in the epidemiology of CSSV will be investigated with a view to improving the guidance given to farmers on managing the flora on and near to their farms to reduce the risks of CSSV spread

Supply of High Quality Cocoa Seeds to Ghanaian Cocoa Farmers.

Funded by CRUK and CRIG
» Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana
» Rob Lockwood
(2008 to 2012)
A joint project with CRIG to analyse and interpret historic and more recent data from CRIG's breeding programme with a view to selecting types for further evaluation in seed garden and MMSP trials.

Safe Control of Mirid Pests in West Africa.

Funded by CRUK
» Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana
» Rob Lockwood
(2007 to 2011)
Researcher: Dr.Roy Bateman
One of two linked post-graduate research projects to evaluate the potential of pheromones and biocontrol agents for integrated pest management and developing improved spray technologies for use with biocontrol agents.

Safe Control of Mirid Pests in West Africa.

Funded by CRUK
» Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana
» Rob Lockwood
(2007 to 2011)
Researcher: Dr. R. Bateman
One of two linked post-graduate research projects to evaluate the potential of pheromones and biocontrol agents for integrated pest management and developing improved spray technologies for use with biocontrol agents. Joe Sarfo (CRIG, Ghana) experimented with different formulations of pheromones, trap design, height and density to optimise the methodology. Traps designed with low cost, locally available materials were found to be effective, though the best results were obtained using traps with a sticky outer surface in addition the standard sticky inner surface. Field experiments showed that although catches of male Sahlbergella singularis, the dominant mirid species in this region of Ghana, were significantly reduced in mass-trapped fields, pheromone trapping did not control mirid numbers or damage on cocoa, likely due to a combination of factors including the erratic airflow (sometimes absent) in canopies, patchy distribution of mirids within cocoa plantings, and their flight behaviour. However, the technology offers potential as a tool for monitoring mirid populations with a view to better targetting pest control by other means.

CSSV - strain independent screen.

Funded by CRUK
» University of Reading
» University of Aberystwyth
(2010 to 2010)
Researchers: Dr.A.Wetten, Dr.J. Allainguillaume
A post-doctoral research project to develop a sensitive and strain-independent molecular screen for CSSV and to assess its efficacy as part of the quarantine procedure. Geographical variability of CSSV isolates, and putative reservoirs of virus in non-cocoa species will also be investigated to improve our understanding of virus spread.

MSc study to produce a vulnerability assessment of the cocoa productivity in Cote d'Ivoire

Funded by CRUK
» University of Edinburgh, Business School
(2010 to 2010)
This MSc study aimed to produce a vulnerability assessment of the cocoa productivity in Cote d'Ivoire using the latest findings of the IPCC reports, building potential scenarios of impacts based also on related literature review and addressing possible ways to adapt to climate change through findings from focus groups and interviews with farmers and policy makers in Cote d.Ivoire.

Isolation and Characterisation of the Female Sex Pheromone of the Cocoa Stem Borer, Eulophonotus myrmeleon.

Funded by CRUK
» Natural Resources Institute
» Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana
(2008 to 2010)
Researchers: Prof. D. Hall, Dr. S. Lowor, Dr. A Cudjoe
A research project to isolate the sex pheromone of the stem borer, an increasingly important pest in Ghana, for potential use in an integrated pest management system.

Isolation and Characterisation of the Female Sex Pheromone of Helopeltis theivora.

Funded by CRUK and PTPP London Sumatra
» Natural Resources Institute
» Lonsum
(2008 to 2010)
Researchers: Prof.D. Hall, Dr. S. Nelson
A research project, jointly supported with PTPP London Sumatra, to isolate the sex pheromone for the Helopeltis mirid which causes significant losses in SE Asia, for use in an integrated pest management system.

Cocoa Swollen Shoot Virus - Molecular Study of Movement and Elimination.

Funded by CRUK
» University of Reading
(2006 to 2010)
Researcher: Dr. A. Wetten & Dr. J. Allainguillaume
A post-graduate research project to study the movement of CSSV virus asit moves through the host plant. The research demonstrated that although sections of DNA from CSSV appears to be transmitted from the mother plant to seeds, it is inactivated and does not result in CSSV infection in the seedling.

Understanding Seasonal Variability in Quality, Yield and Disease Resistance.

Funded by CRUK and LNV Sustainable Cocoa Subsidy Scheme (Dutch Buffer Stock)
» University of Reading
» University of Aberystwyth
(2005 to 2010)
Researchers: Prof. Paul Hadley, Prof. Mike Wilkinson, Dr. Nicholas Cryer, Dr. Penny Tricker, Dr. Carlos Rodriguez-Lopez, Dr. Vladimir Bruhkin
A post-doctoral research project co-funded by the Government of the Netherlands to investigate the control of plant development and its response to environmental conditions and stresses caused by biotic and abiotic factors at the molecular level. This research contributed to our understanding of how regions and genes across the genome are differentially silenced or activated in response to environmental changes and developmental progression. Attention was focused on identifying environmentally sensitive regions of the genome that affect bean quality and yield potential. The results generated are being integrated with existing global genomics and transcriptomics research efforts to identify the particular genes involved and to define conditions for optimal gene expression. In the longer term, this work will assist in the breeding of clones that are well adapted to local conditions and will greatly improve the power of existing genetics research efforts.

Cacaonet base collection.

Funded by CRUK
» University of Reading
(2009 to 2009)
Researchers: Prof. P.Hadley, Dr. N.Cryer
A short project to collate genetic fingerprinting data from various sources and, in collaboration with scientists at USDA, CIRAD and Mars, to carry out an analysis to prioritise the accessions to conserve in the CacaoNet Global Strategic collection.

Student placement study on lignification in the sclerotic layer in relation to CPB resistance.

Funded by CRUK
» University of Reading
(2009 to 2009)
Researchers: Dr. P. Hatcher, Prof. P. Hadley
A short project to enable an Indonesian student to carry out histological studies on the cocoa pod wall as part of his PhD studies at the Gadjah Mada University, Indonesia. The thickness of the lignified layer and its cell structure appear to be correlated with resistance to CPB, suggesting that this physical barrier is important in preventing emergence of the CPB larvae from the pod.

Dose-Transfer Efficiency of Cone Nozzles using fungicides against cocoa black pod disease as a model system.

Funded by CRUK
» The International Pesticide Application Research Consortium
» Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana
(2009 to 2009)
Researcher: Dr. R. Bateman
An MSc student placement to test novel nozzle designs against standard spraying equipment in Ghana.

Biocontrol of Cocoa Diseases (Student placements at CATIE).

Funded by CRUK
» CATIE
(2001 to 2009)
Researchers: U. Krauss, J.Crozier, G.M. ten Hoopen
Short placements for UK students to learn and develop fungal biocontrol techniques at a centre of expertise in CATIE, Costa Rica.

Study of accessions in Trinidad

Funded by CRUK
» University of the West Indies
(2007 to 2008)
Researcher: Tony Lass
A research placement for an undergraduate studentship for a student from University of Bath at the Cocoa Research Unit, Trinidad. The project involved determing the factors affecting conversion of wet weight to dry weight in cocoa, as well as training in vegetative propagation, small scale fermentationa and flavour evaluation techniques.

Cocoa quality by NIR.

Funded by CRUK
» University of Nottingham
(2004 to 2004)
Researcher: Dr P.C. Garnsworthy
A feasability study to determine potential use of NIR to replace cut test to assess cocoa quality.

Temperature & Relative Humidity in Containerised Cocoa.

Funded by CRUK
» Cambridge Refridgeration Technology Ltd
(2004 to 2004)
Researcher: J. Frith
This research was undertaken to monitor temperature and humidity conditions in containers of cocoa as they are shipped from producing countries to Europe.

Assessment of the Genetic Fidelity of Somatic Embryo-derived Cocoa.

Funded by CRUK
» University of Reading
(2001 to 2004)
Researcher: Dr. A. Wetten
A PhD research project which set out to examine variation at the genetic level in somatic embryos produced using a tissue culture technique. This project constituted the first large-scale molecular characterisation of changes that occur during primary and secondary somatic embryogenesis in cocoa. The novel techniques developed during the project allow a rapid assessment of variation at both genetic and epi-genetic levels. The effects of time in culture, embryo origin, and genotype on somaclonal variation were assessed and this enabled recommendations to be made on the most appropriate procedures to reduce the risk of mutation/variation in somatic embryo production.

Determination of Desirable Cocoa Germplasm Characteristics for Optimal Yield and Quality.

Funded by CRUK
» University of Reading
(2001 to 2004)
Researchers: P. Hadley, A.Daymond
A post-doctoral research project to investigate the responses of different varieties of cocoa to changes in temperature, light levels and water stress under greenhouse and field conditions with a view to matching varieties to local growing conditions.

Intensive Genetic Characterisation of Diverse Cocoa Germplasm.

Funded by CRUK
» University of Reading
(2000 to 2004)
Researcher: Dr. M. Wilkinson
A post-graduate research project to develop a new genetic fingerprinting technique based on ISSR-PCR which could be used to distinguish large numbers of closely related accessions and link genetic markers with traits of interest to breeders.

Process of Host Infection by Basidiospores of Moniliophthora perniciosa (formerly Crinipellis perniciosa) Witches' Broom.

Funded by CRUK
» University of Aberystwyth
(2001 to 2003)
Researchers: Dr. G.Griffiths, Dr. I.Scott, Dr. T. Carver
A post-doctoral research project using electron microscopy to study the infection process. The study demonstrated that infection usually occurs through hair cells rather than stomata as had previously been thought.

Combined Fingerprinting and Tagging in Cocoa.

Funded by CRUK
» University of Reading
(2000 to 2003)
Researchers: Dr. M. Wilkinson, Dr. Nicholas Cryer, Dr. Yvonne Charters
The main objective of this project was to fingerprint all material held in the Reading Intermediate Quarantine Collection and to generate a SNP-based marker system that is fully transferable, related to target genes, and could be applied with minimal equipment. The programme of work was adjusted to take account of a USDA initiated programme to use the microsatellites generated at CIRAD to fingerprint Germplasm collections in the Americas. Allelic standards were created for each locus to replace the generic standards previously used to ensure transferability of results between laboratories. A total of 89 SNPs were identified across divergent material and these generated 39 CAPS markers across 30 loci. Some of these markers were used to screen large numbers of genotypes.

Developmental Changes as Moniliophthora (formerly Crinipellis) perniciosa (Witches' Broom) progresses from Biotrophic to Saprophytic Growth.

Funded by CRUK
» University of Aberystwyth
(1998 to 2002)
Researchers: Dr. G.Griffiths, Dr. I.Scott
A post-graduate research project to study the changes at the gene expression level for key enzymes as the infected cocoa shoot dies and the Witches' Broom fungus prepares to produce its spores.

Genetic Diversity in Moniliophthora perniciosa (formerly Crinipellis perniciosa)

Funded by CRUK
» University of Aberystwyth
(1998 to 2002)
Researchers: Dr. G.Griffiths, Dr. I.Scott
A research project to use AFLP genetic fingerprinting to study the relationships between different strains of Witches' Broom fungus and its close relationship to Frosty Pod fungus (Moniliophthora roreri).

Sampling Containerised Cocoa

Funded by CRUK
(2000 to 2000)
Researcher: Dr. A.Moxon

Identification of True-breeding lines in cocoa

Funded by CRUK
» University of Reading
(1997 to 1997)
Researcher: Dr. M.J. Wilkinson
A short project to evaluate the potential of the Inter-Simple Sequence Repeat (ISSR)-PCR technique to assess levels of homozygosity/heterozygosity in cocoa germplasm.

Microsatellite Analysis

Funded by CRUK
» University of Reading
(1996 to 1997)
Researchers: Dr. A. Culham, Dr. M.J. Wilkinson, Dr. P. Hadley
A short project to evaluate the potential of the Inter-Simple Sequence Repeat (ISSR)-PCR technique for the genetic characterisation of cocoa germplasm.

High throughput screening for resistance

Funded by CRUK
» University of Reading
(1995 to 1995)
Researchers: M.J.Wilkinson, N.Cryer
Pyrosequencing is a new technique that allows for real time, simultaneous sequencing of DNA of up to 96 samples. The system has been widely used in medical genetics for screening for single base sequence mutations associated with genetically inherited disease but there has only been a couple of papers that use the technique on plants. The recently aquired pyrosequencer at The University of Reading will be used in a feasibility study to assess the value of the technique for large-scale screening of trees for valuable alleles of resistance genes

Sampling Megabulk cocoa

Funded by CRUK
"Cutting-edge research based on the shared expertise available in the UK and cocoa producing countries"