Team sequences shea tree genome to support breeding and conservation efforts

The shea tree is best know as a source for a multimillion-dollar ingredient used in cosmetics, personal care products, pharmaceuticals and chocolate. But for hundreds of thousands of African families living in the ‘shea belt’ it is also a crucial source of nutrition and income. Despite its increasing demand, the slow-growing shea tree is being threatened by other cash crops and its preservation most likely lies in its genetic improvement. To enable such work, an international team of researchers has sequenced the shea tree’s genome, providing a valuable resource for the strategic development of the species.