Thursday, June 26, 2008

Combinging two of my favorite things - chocolate and genomes

Well, the Mars company has really done it now (see Unwrapping the Chocolate Genome -from They are planning to sequence the cacoa genome. Genomes and chocolate. Man are they going to get every bioinformatics person I know to apply to help out with this project ...

Some little notes on the project:
  • They plan to release the data for public use: "Mars plans to make the research results free and accessible through the Public Intellectual Property Resource for Agriculture, a group that supports agricultural innovation, as they become available. The intent is to prevent opportunists from patenting the plant's key genes."
  • They are doing this in a collaboration with IBM
  • Good quote by Howard Shapiro: "We have the ability as a private company to take charge of the future," Howard-Yana Shapiro, global director of plant science for Mars, said."
So -even though I pondered whether this was science by press release, a friend of mine convinced me it was not and this was just getting out the word on the project. For other details see


  1. I'll try not to be cynical, but after working in research at Mars for several years (and at times very closely with some of the individuals involved in this project), I won't be holding my breath for Mars to 'take charge of the future'. Mars, as a private company and no official shareholders to answer to, tends to change direction every couple of years; as such, this might be high priority now, but that could change pretty quickly (insiders at Mars have been speculating on Howard Shapiro's retirement for many years now).

    Around the same time of my involvement with the GOS project, I brought this sequencing idea up on several occasions, as it seemed like a great way to learn more about the climate/disease relationships among the different varieties of cacao trees. That said, hopefully, this time it will be different. I am glad to see that they are finally embracing this project, and would be happy to share insights from my former colleagues, as much of the behind the scenes info won't make it to the public domain.

  2. Well, if you compare to some of the chaos created at publicly held companies due to shareholder issues, I am not sure private is a bad thing, even if the steering goes crazy every once in a while. But I take your point.

    If they are really going to put the data in the public domain, then they deserve a lot of credit for doing something a lot of companies do not do. So, for this reason, and since, well, it is about chocolate, I am going to try and support them however I can ....

  3. please do...Every Dove Dark bar purchased is not only beneficial (in moderation of course), but more importantly contributes to my retirement account!!


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