Cherelle wilt is a devastating phenomenon in Theobroma cacao, a tropical understory tree that produces pods from which chocolate is manufactured. Approximately 60% of the pods succumbed to the condition known as cherelle wilt, on which relatively little research has been conducted. Cherelle wilt is so named because it affects the development of pods in the “cherelle” stage, when the pods are less than 10 cm long and younger than 40 days. This work assessed morphological differences between healthy, developing pods and those affected by cherelle wilt by light microscopy of longitudinally sectioned pods (in one week intervals) (2 µm thick, set in Spurr’s resin). My research showed that at the microscopic level, seed structures of healthy pods were larger, and four weeks post pollination, developed significantly greater amounts of dark material (likely tannins). Wilting pods were smaller, with the appearance of larger integuments than embryo sac in longitudinal section. My studies provide new insights regarding morphological development of pods. Potential causes of cherelle wilt discussed include insufficient hormonal stimulation and possible epigenetic maternal effects. Further experiments are necessary to determine the role of hormones and genetics in the phenomenon of cherelle wilt.
|Advisor:||Hasenstein, Karl H.|
|Commitee:||Chlan, Caryl, Watson, Glen, Zavada, Michael|
|School:||University of Louisiana at Lafayette|
|Department:||Environmental and Evolutionary Biology|
|School Location:||United States -- Louisiana|
|Source:||MAI 55/03M(E), Masters Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Biology, Agriculture, Plant sciences|
|Keywords:||Cherelle wilt, Development, Embryo, Seed structure, Theobroma cacao, Zygote|
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