Genome of Arabica Coffee Sequenced by Scientists

The first public genome sequence for Coffea arabica was sequenced by researchers at the University of California, Davis.

Coffee is a tropical crop, traditionally grown around the world in a geographic belt that extends no more than 25 degrees north or south of the equator.

Sequencing of the C. arabica genome is particularly meaningful for California, where coffee plants are being grown commercially for the first time in the continental United States and a specialty-coffee industry is emerging.

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.

Plant material from one of the trees — UCG-17 Geisha — was used for developing the C. arabica genome sequence.

C. arabica is a hybrid cross derived from two other plant species: C. canephora (robusta coffee), and the closely related C. eugenioides. As a result of that hybrid crossing, C. arabica’s complex genome has four sets of chromosomes — unlike many other plants and humans, which have only two chromosome sets.

In 2014, researchers elsewhere sequenced the genome of Coffea canephora — commonly known as robusta coffee and used for making coffee blends and instant coffee.