Brazilian scientists take part in Arabica coffee research

Brazilian scientists take part in Arabica coffee research

Researchers from Embrapa Café and other institutions across the country are involved in sequencing the bean's genome

2 minutes read

Researchers from 16 countries, including Brazil, have sequenced the reference genome of Arabica coffee. That is, the most widely consumed coffee in the world. Three scientists are from Embrapa Café and another eight from institutions that make up the Coffee Research Consortium. Embrapa is the coordinator.

Thus, a scientific article published this April in Nature Genetics, a high-impact scientific journal, presents unprecedented information in relation to the genome. And also the population genomics of this species. It also reveals the history of diversification of the cultivars currently planted.

Arabica coffee

First and foremost, Embrapa Café researcher Alan Andrade explains that the group of scientists has carried out a complete structural genetic mapping of Coffea arabica. This is of the highest quality yet achieved.

“With this, we arrived at what we call a reference genome. In 2004, we were pioneers here in Brazil in the functional sequencing of the genome of the arabica species. Now, with structural sequencing, we know the order of the genes within the DNA sequences and the intergenic regions that make up the genome. This is not possible with functional sequencing,” he explains.

In this sense, it has become easier to identify genes that give plants specific characteristics. Such as resistance to disease and drought or the size of the coffee cherry. As well as aroma and flavor.


In short, researcher Luiz Filipe Pereira, also from Embrapa Café, says that important advances are already being made based on the results obtained.

“As we have been immersed in this work for years, we are developing various research projects focused on Brazilian coffee-growing using the data from this study,” he said.

He also explained that the detailed genome makes it possible to identify genetic variations in DNA bases associated with phenotypic characteristics. For example, resistance to diseases.

“This way, by analyzing the plants’ DNA, we can quickly select those that are resistant. This speeds up breeding,” said Pereira.