Mars, IBM & USDA Successfully Map Chocolate Genome

09/15/2010 05:23 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Two competing studies have unlocked the cacao tree's complete genome, which could yield a stable supply of chocolate beans and could one day lead to tastier, more nutritious candy bars.

Mars, the company behind M&Ms and Milky Way, spent $10 million on a project, which also involved the U.S. Agriculture Department and computer megalith IBM, to produce the Cacao Genome Database. As of today, the genome map will be available on the Web, free of cost, for interested readers, scientists and chocolate manufacturers.

But the announcement from that consortium is expected to be met by a similar one from Hershey, which worked with the French government and Pennsylvania State University to create its own version of the cacao tree genome.