Chocolate eggs under threat from witches' broom
IT'S chocolate egg season again, and sales of the pagan and Christian symbols of rebirth are as strong as ever. But the hunt for Easter eggs may truly be on next year, because chocolate trees are in increasing trouble.
Chocolate is made from the fermented, roasted seeds of the cacao tree. The cacao swollen shoot virus (CSSV) can kill the trees, and threatens to slash this year's spring crop by a third in the world's biggest producer, Ivory Coast. Meanwhile a fungus called witches' broom is doing the same in Brazil. Now researchers are racing to sequence the cacao genome and find genes that can resist CSSV.