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World Coffee Research reveals its latest study on Arabica’s lack of diversity

From the July 2015 issue.

The high quality species of coffee is lacking in sufficient genetic diversity to meet the challenges posed by climate change, according to World Coffee Research.

With the 2008 rust outbreak in Central and South America now behind us, many in the coffee industry will be wishing for a period of calm predictability.

However, according to a new study from World Coffee Research (WCR), the Arabica species of coffee on which the industry relies for its high-end product remains at risk.

According to WCR’s latest research, the plant is spectacularly ill-equipped to overcome the increasing challenges being thrown at it by factors such as climate change due to its extremely limited genetic diversity.

Tim Schilling is the Executive Director of WCR, which has just completed the largest ever study of the genetic diversity of Arabica through the process of genotype sequencing. It was carried out in partnership with genomic technology company Nature Source Genetics.

What they found was a lack of genetic diversity in the Arabica species – a fact that leaves the plant  vulnerable to our changing environmental conditions.

“The amount of genetic diversity of Arabica is not adequate to face up to the challenges that we’re looking at in this century,” Schilling tells GCR Magazine. “I’m specifically referring to direct effects of climate change and climate-change-induced diseases and insects.”

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