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Crop Biotech Update

New Arabica Coffee Genome Sequence Made Available

May 30, 2018

Climate change has been predicted to decrease the area suitable for growing coffee by as much as 50 percent by 2050. Researchers at the University of California Davis (UC Davis) have taken a major step that could lead to the development of new disease-resistant varieties adaptable to climate change.

In 2017, UC Davis geneticists released the genome sequence of Coffea arabica for the first time. Coffea arabica is a species responsible for 70 percent of global coffee production. Now, a new genome sequence is available and posted to Phytozome.net, the public database for comparative plant genomics coordinated by the U.S. Department of Energy's Joint Genome Institute. It is available for use by scientists and plant breeders around the world.

Juan Medrano, a geneticist in the UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and co-researcher on the sequencing effort, said the new genome sequence 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. The release of the new sequence is also meaningful to California, where coffee plants are being grown commercially for the first time in the continental United States, and a specialty-coffee industry is emerging.

For more information, read the UC Davis news article.