Mapping of Quantitative Trait Loci for Butter Content and Hardness in Cocoa Beans (Theobroma cacaoL.)

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Cocoa butter is an important raw material for the chocolate, pharmaceutical, and cosmetic industries. The butter content and quality in cocoa beans are genetically controlled characteristics, and affect its commercial value and industrial applicability. In the present work, an F2 population derived from the cross between the ICS-1 and Scavina-6 cocoa clones was used for molecular mapping. A linkage map was constructed based on amplified fragment length polymorphism, random amplified polymorphic DNA, and simple sequence repeat markers, resulting in a total of 273 markers, distributed in 14 linkage groups (LGs). Phenotyping of butter content was performed after ether extraction and butter hardness was determined by sweeping differential calorimetry. One quantitative trait locus (QTL) associated to butter content was mapped at linkage group 9 (LG9) and two QTLs for butter hardness were identified at linkage groups 9 and 7 (LG9 and LG7). The two QTLs mapped at the LG9 explained 51.0% and 28.8% of the phenotypic variation for butter content and hardness, respectively. These QTLs were concentrated in the same map region, suggesting a close genetic linkage or pleiotropic effect. The QTLs identified may be useful in further marker-assisted selection breeding programs aimed at cocoa butter quality improvement.

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