The Criollo cacao tree (Theobroma cacao L.): A review

Lachenaud Philippe, Motamayor Juan Carlos. 2017. The Criollo cacao tree (Theobroma cacao L.): A review. Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution, 64 (8) : pp. 1807-1820.

Journal article ; Article de synthèse ; Article de revue à facteur d'impact
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Quartile : Q2, Sujet : AGRONOMY / Quartile : Q3, Sujet : PLANT SCIENCES

Abstract : In commercial terms, Criollo cacao trees (Theobroma cacao L.) are reputed to be the source of the commercial product (fermented and dried cocoa beans), which sells for the best price on the market. Nevertheless, the term “Criollo” has numerous meanings and interpretations depending on if it is used by commercial users or botanists, growers or breeders. Our review aims to specify which cocoas can justifiably carry the Criollo name. “Criollo” is a botanical subspecies of Theobroma cacao, i.e. Theobroma cacao subsp. cacao; however, the true Criollos form just one of the ten currently accepted genetic groups in the species. We thus provide an overview of genetic studies on the subject (published or not), along with what is currently known about “True Criollo” or “Ancient Criollo” cacao trees. In fact, there are few representatives in collections that are duly acknowledged to be true Criollos, particularly in the two International Cocoa Genebanks, where only seven clones are available. It is nonetheless certain that some true Criollos do exist in other collections but have not been formally identified (by genetic studies) as members of the Criollo genetic group. Likewise, some true Criollos, be they cultivated or subspontaneous, exist in Mexico and Central and South America (Venezuela and Colombia). However, certain clones called “modern Criollos”, which are closely related to the true Criollos but arise from hybridization with other genetic groups, are more common. (Résumé d'auteur)

Mots-clés Agrovoc : Theobroma cacao, Variété, Génétique des populations, Ressource génétique végétale, Variation génétique, Génotype, Phylogénie, Classification, Taxonomie, Identification, Terminologie, Domestication des plantes

Mots-clés géographiques Agrovoc : Monde, Nicaragua, Honduras, Venezuela (République bolivarienne du), Mexique, Panama, Équateur, Colombie, Costa Rica, Belize

Mots-clés libres : Cocoa, Genetic group, Variety, Domestication, Genetic diversity, Population structure

Classification Agris : F30 - Plant genetics and breeding
F70 - Plant taxonomy and geography

Champ stratégique Cirad : Axe 1 (2014-2018) - Agriculture écologiquement intensive

Auteurs et affiliations

  • Lachenaud Philippe, CIRAD-BIOS-UPR Bioagresseurs (FRA)
  • Motamayor Juan Carlos, USDA (USA)

Source : Cirad-Agritrop (

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