Most of the following analytical techniques can be performed on fresh cocoa beans, fermented beans or even on chocolate. A few indicated methods only applicable to chocolate are indicated. CCRN also has capabilities in social and environmental sciences.

Genetic Analysis

  • Isolate and sequence DNA fragments from specific genes or regions of a genome
  • Gene Functional Testing using transient and stable expression systems in Arabidopsis, cacao, tobacco and other systems.
  • Gene annotation and evolutionary analysis
  • Measure expression levels of genes via transcriptome sequencing
  • Promoter analysis: discovery of tissue specific or regulated promoters


  • Protein identification by mass spectrometry
  • Shotgun proteomics analysis


  • In vitro bioassay for Phytopthora infection
  • Automated phenotyping of Phytopthora lesion development

Compositional Characterization

  • FAME analysis by GC-FID and GC-MS
  • Triglyceride analysis by GC-FID
  • Volatile profiling by GC-MS with SPME, HS, and LLE
  • Gas chromatography-olfactometry
  • Access to HPLC-MS/MS for non-volatile characterization (polyphenols, sugar analysis, etc.)
  • Measure elemental compositions (P, K, Ca, Mg, Mn, Fe, Cu, B, Al, Zn, Na, Cd, Ni, Pb, Mo, S, C, N) of plant tissues

Targeted phytochemical analysis

  • In vitro bioassays to measuring antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-obesity, and anti-cancer activity
  • Mouse models to measure anti-obesity, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer activity
  • Experience with human subjects measuring oxidative stress and inflammation markers


  • biomarker identification (disease markers, bioactive chemistry markers)

Small molecule extraction/isolation

  • Flash chromatography
  • Analytical and semi-preparatory HPLC
  • Small molecule structure elucidation (MS, 1D and 2D NMR)

In vitro assays

  • Human gut health
  • Hypertension
  • Antibacterial (Gram+ and Gram-)
  • Antifungal (Candida sp.)
  • Antioxidant

Chocolate Specific Analyses

  • Cocoa butter melting and tempering properties (DSC, NMR, XRD)
  • Chocolate viscosity and hardness (steady shear, oscillatory rheology, TA-XT2)
  • Crystallinity and crystal form (XRD)
  • Particle surface area (BET sorption)
  • Particle size and shape (SEM)
  • Fat crystallization (light microscopy)

Sensory & Consumer Science

  • Acceptability
  • Descriptive Analysis with consumers and trained panels
  • Discrimination/Similarity testing
  • Rapid methods to characterize samples
  • Consumer perception of extrinsic and intrinsic characteristics, etc.

Core Facilities: Innumerable other capabilities exist is our core facilities. You can learn about these here: As a sponsor of Penn State Research programs you have access to these facilities at our internal and heavily subsidized rates.

Office for Research and Graduate Education


217 Agricultural Administration Building
University Park, PA 16802-2600

Office for Research and Graduate Education


217 Agricultural Administration Building
University Park, PA 16802-2600