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:
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.