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Two main biosynthesis pathways involved in the synthesis of the floral aroma of the nacional cocoa variety

Colonges K., Jimenez J.C., Saltos A., Seguine E., Loor Solorzano R.G., Fouet O., Argout X., Assemat S., Davrieux F., Cros E., Boulanger R., Lanaud C.. 2021. Frontiers in Plant Science, 12 : 24 p..

DOI: 10.3389/fpls.2021.681979

Theobroma cacao is the only source that allows the production of chocolate. It is of major economic importance for producing countries such as Ecuador, which is the third-largest cocoa producer in the world. Cocoa is classified into two groups: bulk cocoa and aromatic fine flavour cocoa. In contrast to bulk cocoa, fine flavour cocoa is characterised by fruity and floral notes. One of the characteristics of Nacional cocoa, the emblematic cocoa of Ecuador, is its aromatic ARRIBA flavour. This aroma is mainly composed of floral notes whose genetic and biochemical origin is not well-known. This research objective is to study the genetic and biochemical determinism of the floral aroma of modern Nacional cocoa variety from Ecuador. Genome-Wide Association Study (GWAS) was conducted on a population of 152 genotypes of cocoa trees belonging to the population variety of modern Nacional. Genome-Wide Association Study was conducted by combining SSR and SNP genotyping, assaying biochemical compounds (in roasted and unroasted beans), and sensory evaluations from various tastings. This analysis highlighted different areas of association for all types of traits. In a second step, a search for candidate genes in these association zones was undertaken, which made it possible to find genes potentially involved in the biosynthesis pathway of the biochemical compound identified in associations. Our results show that two biosynthesis pathways seem to be mainly related to the floral note of Nacional cocoa: the monoterpene biosynthesis pathway and the L-phenylalanine degradation pathway. As already suggested, the genetic background would therefore appear as largely explaining the floral note of cocoa.

Mots-clés : composé de la flaveur; biosynthèse; composé phénolique; theobroma cacao; flaveur; composé aromatique; Équateur

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