A l'UM la science [S03-ep19]: The domestication of cocoa

This week in A l'UM la science we talk about the domestication of cocoa with geneticist Claire Lanaud from the Agaplaboratory . The report takes us to Baillarguet with Sébastien Vidal, head of the microcosm platform. Finally, in the last few minutes, Agnès Pesenti introduces us to the next Science Bar, dedicated to Brain Week. Broadcast every Wednesday at 6pm on Divergence-FM 93.9.

You can like it very dark, like a good coffee, with a hint of salt or chilli pepper for fantasy. It can be topped with hazelnuts or almonds for crunchiness, or poured, smooth and steaming, to be enjoyed by the cupful. For many of us, chocolate is much more than a simple delicacy.  

Every year, the French consume over 300,000 kg of chocolate, or 7 kg per person. In Switzerland, in 2023, the press lamented the fact that, for the first time in 40 years, chocolate consumption had fallen below 10 kg per capita per year. The champions in a world that consumes 7.2 billion tonnes of cocoa every year. And that's just the beginning.

Paradoxically, producer countries are far from being the leading consumers. In Côte d'Ivoire, the world leader with over 2 million tonnes produced each year, consumption is around 500 grams per person per year.

Yet cocoa originated neither in Africa, the world's leading exporter, nor in Europe, the world's leading importer, but in South America, and more precisely in Amazonia, before man brought it out of the forest to domesticate it.

When? That's the question we're asking ourselves today with our guest. She is an emeritus geneticist at the Agap laboratory. Together with a team of archaeologists, anthropologists, geneticists and bio-chemists, she has identified traces of ancient DNA on pottery dating back 5,000 to 400 years, tracing the history of cocoa domestication. A study carried out with collaborators Hélène Vignes, Xavier Argout, Bénédicte Rhoné and Olivier Fouet from the Agap laboratory.

In the second half of the program, we present our second episode at Ecotron Baillarguet. This week we visit the microcosm platform with Sébastien Devidal, design engineer in charge of the Ecotron' s microcosm platform, who introduces us to its 13 identical, independent climate chambers, each measuring 2 cubic meters, which can accommodate plants, soil and even butterflies, to study the effects of climate change.

Finally, we welcome Agnès Pesenti, as the Science Bar is already back, and this time the theme of the conference is part of Brain Week.

At UM la science you've got the program, here we go!

Coproduction : Divergence FM / Université de Montpellier
Animation : Lucie Lecherbonnier
Interview : Aline Périault / Lucie Lecherbonnier
Reporting : Aline Périault, Lucie Lecherbonnier
Editing : Aline Périault
Production : Alice Rollet / Tom Chevalier

Listen to the program "A l'UM la science" on Divergence FM 93.9

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