Movement of cocoa germplasm for breeding and research carries a concurrent risk of inadvertent spread of pests and diseases. It is therefore vital that such movement takes place via intermediate quarantine. The International Cocoa Quarantine Centre, at the University of Reading (ICQC,R) is the principal hub for transfer of cocoa vegetative material between countries/ regions.
The ICQC,R has been in operation since 1985 and is located in a temperate country as there are no endemic pests and diseases of cocoa that can enter the facility from the environs. The facility comprises a 1000m2 compartmentalised environmentally-controlled greenhouse located on one of the University’s farms. Germplasm is received into the ICQC,R with particular desirable characteristics, such as resistance to diseases, high yield potential and bean quality traits. The majority of germplasm is received from the two international genebanks in Trinidad (ICG,T) and Costa Rica (CATIE), although other centres also periodically provide germplasm. Rigorous testing procedures over a two year period include virus-indexing using a suite of PCR probes, alongside visual examination.
To date, cocoa germplasm has been exported from ICQC, R to over 30 cocoa-growing countries. The inventory of cocoa germplasm (available material and in quarantine) held at the ICQC,R is continuously updated at the International Cocoa Quarantine Centre, Reading website.