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Cacao for what? A bibliographic survey on material and symbolic uses of Brazil's native cacao species

Grant number: 20/16208-3
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Scientific Initiation
Effective date (Start): May 01, 2021
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Botany
Principal Investigator:José Rubens Pirani
Grantee:Italo Rocha Freitas
Host Institution: Instituto de Biociências (IB). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil


Assessing the identity, distribution and use of different plant groups from different environments is essential to fill knowledge gaps and to contribute to the strategic planning of Brazil's biota conservation. Specifically, continuous efforts have documented the use of particular species of native cacaos especially from the second half of the 20th century, followed by the emergence of the chocolate industry in Northeastern Brazil. In fact, it has reflected in other species of "native cocoas" as well, a group comprising c. 40 species in two genera, Theobroma L. and Herrania Goudot, of which seventeen occur in Brazil. Thus, this project aims to carry out a bibliographic survey under a synthetic approach on the known uses, popular names and historical records of the seventeen species of Theobroma and Herrania (i.e. the native cacaos) that occur in Brazil. An extensive survey on online repositories of scientific articles will enable a compilation of studies that describe uses, popular names and relevant information about cacao species. These, along with the analysis of information available on vouchers deposited in herbaria and on ongoing research, will subsidize a systematization of species material and symbolic uses. This project should result in: 1) high-quality content that will supplement the ongoing production of an ebook by the project team, which will consist of an illustrated guide on Brazilian cacao species; and 2) a manuscript to be submitted for publication, discussing and summarizing project results, in light of the natural distribution of Brailian species and their history of use.

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