New Coffee Genetic Map Promises Better Brews

Scientists have discovered the genetic secrets of coffee, leading to the creation of the most complete genetic map yet of Arabica coffee. This discovery could help in breeding new coffee crops and potentially lead to coffee plants that can cope better with changing climatic conditions. Arabica coffee, which originated in Ethiopia’s highlands, is grown in mountains and accounts for over 60% of the world’s coffee production. The study used the latest DNA sequencing technology to examine the genetic make-up of the Arabica coffee plant in unprecedented detail.

The knowledge allows scientists to hone in on genes important in coffee production, such as the distinctive sweet, soft flavor of the brew. It may also help coffee growers develop new varieties of coffee with particular flavors and aromas, as well as those able to tolerate tougher growing conditions. Rising temperatures and unpredictable rainfall are altering the conditions under which coffee plants are grown, leading to decreased yields and increased attack from pests and diseases.

The study is published in the scientific journal, Nature Communications. Dr. Aaron Davis of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, said it was an “important step forward in our understanding of the genetic diversity of coffee which may help to guide the future development of this economically important and much-loved crop species.”

Jeremy Torz, co-founder of the London-based coffee roasting business, Union Hand-roasted Coffee, said that the science will help coffee farmers develop plants that are well-suited to producing good coffee in a changing environment. With the combination of good science and passionate farmers, the brew that we love will be around in a form that we know it for a lot longer.

Read More @ BBC

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