News & Events

13 March 2020

Study confirms all Arabica coffee diversity available today is derived from a single ancestral plant—resulting in the least genetically diverse major crop species in the world

A new study published today used modern genetics tools to trace the history of the Coffea arabica species, the most common and economically important commercial coffee crop species worldwide. Researchers confirmed the significantly likelihood that C. arabica derived from a single speciation event, a spontaneous coupling of individuals of two different species—Coffea canephora and Coffea eugenioides—that brought together the two genomes to create a new species. All C. arabica grown around the world today therefore originated from a single plant an estimated 10,000 to 20,000 years ago.  "This means that a single plant, a super-individual, has given birth to the whole C. Arabica species and to the millions of trees that are cultivated today all over the world in the intertropical belt,” says co-author and coffee breeder Benoit Bertrand of CIRAD.

The completion of a publicly available genome of C. arabica was released publicly last year by an Italian research partnership, led by researchers from Istituto di Genomica Applicata, Lavazza, Illycaffè  and Italian universities