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Biocenter Klein Flottbek and Botanical Garden, University of Hamburg, Germany
Dr. Christoph Reisdorff - CReisdorff@IAngBot.uni-hamburg.de
Dipl.-Biol. Christina Rohsius
Dipl.-Biol. Silke Müller

Agroforestry Research Center for Western Amazonia, EMBRAPA Amazônia Ocidental Manaus, Brazil
PhD Aparecida das Graças Claret de Souza
PhD Luadir Gasparotto

Theobroma grandiflorum (Willd. ex Spreng.) Schum., the cupuaçu-tree:
additional use option and agro-ecology

The cupuaçu tree, Theobroma grandiflorum (Willd. ex Spreng.) Schum., is native in the south-east of Pará, Brazil, where it represents a constituent of the medium stratum of the terra-firme rain forest. Its considerably big fruits (1-2 kg fresh weight) consist of a lignified husk encasing 20-45 seeds which are surrounded by a very aromatic pulp, which constitutes about 35-45 % of the fruit's fresh weight. The cupuaçu tree can be found throughout the Amazon region as part of spontaneous vegetations on non-inundated areas, particularly near existing or former settlements. The relatively high market value of the fruit pulp (2 - 4 US$ per kg), which is used for the production of juice, ice-cream, yoghurts, and other fresh products, makes the cultivation of cupuaçu-trees more and more attractive. Furthermore the close relationship to the cocoa-tree (Theobroma cacao L.) give rise to the presumption that in addition to pulp production the seeds of T. grandiflorum (ca. 20 % of fresh weight) could be used for manufacturing chocolate-like foodstuffs. This additional use option would reveal the advantage of producing a storable ware which would supply a separate market. However, attempts to commercialize a type of chocolate-wares made from cupuaçu-seeds failed so far, probably due to the unsatisfactory and hardly reproducible quality of the product. Our research on cupuaçu consists of two aspects:

The potential use of the seeds
We are studying the seed inherent factors determining the aroma potential of T. grandiflorum in collaboration with the CPAA/EMBRAPA, Manaus, and under the guidance of the cocoa-specialist Prof. Dr. B. Biehl (Technical University Braunschweig). The crucial factors for the aroma generation are the characteristics of the storage proteins and the pattern of their degradation by proteolytic enzymes in the course of fermentation. We investigate also changes in the ultrastructure of the cotyledonous cells, which seem to be decisive for a sound proteolysis leading to aroma precursors. An overview of our first results has recently been published (Reisdorff, C., Rohsius, C., Claret de Souza, A.d.G., Gasparotto, L., Lieberei, R., 2004: Comparative study on the proteolytic activities and storage globulins in seeds of Theobroma grandiflorum (Willd ex Spreng) Schum and Theobroma bicolor Humb Bonpl, in relation to their potential to generate chocolate-like aroma. Journal of the Science of Food & Agriculture 84/7, 693700.)

The recently expanding cultivation of T. grandiflorum is guided by breeding programs evaluating agronomic characteristics of strains and clones of primary selected plant material. In addition to these efforts, which mainly focus production parameters under standard conditions, it is necessary to line out a type of an agro-ecological profile of the plant, and to identify the most advantageous conditions for its cultivation. Thus, we are monitoring the development and production of 750 cupuaçu trees in different mixed cultivation systems and a monoculture on an experimental site near Manaus, Brazil. Beside the effect of planting systems and management measures we evaluate to which extent varying topographic and micro-climatic conditions influence the development and productivity of cupuaçu plants.

These studies are part of the project "Recultivation of Degraded Areas into Polyculture Areas" (project ENV23/2) which is conducted within the frame of the SHIFT-program (Studies on Human Impact on Forests and Floodplains in the Tropics), a Brazilian-German cooperation supported by the BMBF, Germany, and the CNPq and IBAMA, Brazil.

Theobroma grandiflorum tree

Theobroma grandiflorum fruit

Theobroma grandiflorum pulp

Theobroma grandiflorum seeds

   http://www.biologie.uni-hamburg.de/bzf/oknu/theobroma.htm suchen