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Scientists Have Sequenced The Genome For Arabica C...

Scientists Have Sequenced The Genome For Arabica Coffee

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The genome for Arabica coffee has been sequenced, and it’s a pretty big deal. Funded by the Suntory Group, researchers from the University of California, Davis (because where else?) are the first to make the Coffea arabica genome sequence publicly available, and it may be the first step in making leaf rust a thing of the past.

According to Phys.org, this isn’t the first coffee genome to be sequenced. Coffea canephora–otherwise known as Robusta–was sequenced back in 2014, but this new research by UC Davis on the more complex Arabica stands to be more impactful; not only fetching a higher price in the marketplace, Arabica comprises 70% of coffee grown worldwide.

The researchers used genetic information from Geisha coffee trees grown at Good Land Organics farm north of Santa Barbara, California to unlock the secrets of C. arabica. They estimate that the genome is made up of 1.19 billion base pairs, which Phys.org states is about a third of the number of base pairs in the human genome.

Publicly available on Phytozome.net, the genome sequence for C. arabica can now be accessed by other scientists looking to combat diseases plaguing coffee trees. According to UC Davis geneticist and co-researcher in the Arabica genome project Juan Medrano:

This new genome sequence for Coffea arabica contains information crucial for developing high-quality, disease-resistant coffee varieties that can adapt to the climate changes that are expected to threaten global coffee production in the next 30 years.

Medrano continues:

We hope that the C. arabica sequence will eventually benefit everyone involved with coffee—from coffee farmers, whose livelihoods are threatened by devastating diseases like coffee leaf rust, to coffee processors and consumers around the world.

With leaf rust being one of the biggest worries for coffee producers, this research could go a long way toward helping sustainability efforts. Of course, there is still widespread issues that will take more than just a dedicated of researchers to solve: global warming, labor issues, etc. But still, one thing at a time. Let’s take our victories where we can get them.

Zac Cadwalader is the news editor at Sprudge Media Network.


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