U.S. Department of Agriculture: Agricultural Research Service, Lincoln, Nebraska


Document Type


Date of this Version



Scientia Horticulturae 224 (2017) 188–197.


U.S. government work.


Theobroma cacao gives higher yield when cultivated in full sun under irrigation system with fertilization, because is a species little conservative in relation the efficiency of water use. On the other hand, T. cacao is usually cultivated under shade conditions in ‘Cabruca’ and agroforestry systems but with low yield. It has been observed under field conditions that the genotypes of T. cacao with high concentration of anthocyanins in young leaves are more tolerant to high irradiance stress when grown in full sun. The accumulation of flavonoids or other UVabsorbing compounds in the leaf epidermis is one of the most important mechanisms to screening out UV-B radiation. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of different levels of light on three clonal cacao genotypes (‘Catongo’, SCA-6 and SJ-2), contrasting in relation to accumulation of anthocyanin levels in young leaves, by evaluations of photosynthesis, activity of guaiacol peroxidase (GPX), chloroplastid pigment contents and vacuolar (anthocyanins) flavonoids contents, anatomical characteristics and gene expression of the leaf. In summary, (i) the anthocyanins contents in leaf level did not provide protection against photoinhibition in T. cacao, (ii) the ‘Catongo’ and SJ-2 genotypes showed greater phenotypic plasticity to the morphology and the chloroplastidic pigment contents in the leaf, while the SCA-6 genotype allocated more in the flavonoids content and hsp70 gene expression; (iii) the relative expression of the genes psbA and psbO, did not vary between genotypes under irradiance stress.