SPLS Tuesday Seminar - Pests and pathogens of Theobroma cacao: Protecting the crop today for more chocolate tomorrow

Dr. Jean-Philippe Marelli
MARS Wrigley
Tuesday, February 21, 2023 - 4:00pm
Marley 230 & Live on Zoom https://arizona.zoom.us/j/88614287572 Password: spls2023

The increasing demand for cocoa in the world requires the development and implementation of new effective strategies to reduce losses caused by pests and diseases (estimated to be 38% of the crop every year).
From the basidiomycetes sister species Moniliophthora pernisiosa and M. roreri, only found in South America, to the global presence of Phytophthora spp, fungal and oomycete pathogens take most of the crop every year. Viruses, such as Cocoa Swollen Shoot Virus, represent a serious threat in countries in West Africa as they can kill the tree in less than 3 years and most of the time, entire farms are cut down to prevent further spread. Pests, such as the lepidoptera Cocoa Pod Borer (Conopomorpha cramerella), are the main cause of the reduction of cocoa production in South-East Asia.
Through decades of scientific research and partnerships with the private and academic sector, Mars Inc. has developed solutions to ensure a sustainable cocoa supply. We have sequenced both the cocoa and the cocoa pathogen genomes, which has accelerated our breeding pipelines and we now have better varieties to distribute to farmers. We have also developed diagnostics and monitoring tools to allow for early detection of pathogens and pests and developed smart apps to allow for an efficient implementation of IPM programs in small and large cocoa farms. But all this can only work if we put the cocoa farmer on the front end of our innovation and ways to do this more efficiently and purposely will be discussed.
Dr. Jean-Philippe Marelli is the Sr Director for Integrated Pest Management at Mars Inc, based in Davis, CA.  Jean-Philippe has a distinguished academic career obtaining his undergraduate degree at the Institut National Polytechnique in Toulouse, France, his M.S. from Wye College (Imperial College) in the U.K. and his Ph.D. in Plant Pathology from Pennsylvania State University in the US. He also holds an international MBA in Project Management from FGV University in Sao Paulo, in partnership with the University of California, Irvine.

Join us at 3:30 in the Marley lobby for refreshments.  
The presentation will begin at 4:00 p.m. in Marley 230
A live broadcast is available via zoom: https://arizona.zoom.us/j/88614287572  Password: spls2023