'Hot Chocolate: Helping the Cacao Plant Adapt to Climate Change' talk planned

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- A free public lecture titled "Hot Chocolate: Helping the Cacao Plant Adapt to Climate Change" will take place at 11 a.m. Feb. 8 in 100 Thomas Building on the Penn State University Park campus. The speakers will be Mark Guiltinan and Siela Maximova, professors in the Department of Plant Science at Penn State.

The event is the second of four lectures in the 2014 Penn State Lectures on the Frontiers of Science, a free minicourse for the general public with the theme "Strategies for Survival on Planet Earth." No registration is required. The lectures take place on four consecutive Saturday mornings from 11 a.m. to about 12:30 p.m. in 100 Thomas Building.

In their lecture, Maximova and Guiltinan will describe their research with the cacao plant, which is focused on finding ways to help it, and other food crops in a similar situation, to survive the rise in temperature that research predicts will drastically affect production in the major cacao-growing areas by 2050. Cocoa farmers, exporters, the cocoa industry and consumers all likely will feel the impact if the plant cannot adapt to climate change. Farmers are particularly vulnerable since cocoa is often their primary source of income. This lecture includes the potential role of scientific research in developing adaptation strategies to benefit the cocoa plant. Chocolate will be provided to members of the audience.

The goal of the research team's lab is to provide basic knowledge and technology that will help to improve of food crops, reduce poverty and hunger, manage water resources, assist sustainable international development and adapt to climate change on a meaningful scale. The Guiltinan lab has been active at Penn State since 1991 as part of the Penn State Department of Horticulture. The lab is housed in the Plant Science Center of the Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences. More information about the lab's research is online at http://plantscience.psu.edu/research/labs/guiltinan .

The Penn State Lectures on the Frontiers of Science is a program of the Penn State Eberly College of Science that is designed for the enjoyment and education of residents of the Central Pennsylvania area and beyond. For more information or access assistance, contact the Eberly College of Science Office of Media Relations and Public Information by telephone at 814-863-8453 or by email to jms1140@psu.edu. More information about the Penn State Lectures on the Frontiers of Science, including archived recordings of previous lectures and a list of other lectures in the 2014 series, is available online at www.science.psu.edu/frontiers.

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