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Endangered Coffee Species- ARABICA

22 January 2021


According to a new study, resulting from a large collaboration between World Coffee Research members, the Istituto di Genomica Applicata (Italy), universities in Italy, Yemen, and the United States, and others, the birth of all Arabica was a single super-parent plant that occurred between 10,000 and 20,000 years ago in this miraculous event.

“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,” study co-author and coffee breeder Benoit Bertrand of CIRAD said in an announcement of the publication released by World Coffee Research which was revealed on May 2020.
It's also generally bad news for the coffee industry, as interesting as that may be, as the study indicates that Arabica coffee is the world's least genetically diverse main crop species. In fact, it was just over a year ago that a separate research project resulted in the classification of wild Arabica as an endangered species. Both research projects and the organizations behind them reinforce the idea that Arabica coffee cultivation is a fickle long-term prospect given the species’ sensitivities to pests, climate conditions, and other natural factors.

The present factors contributing to the endangerment of the population of wild coffee include
 Climate change
 Especially the increasing incidence and duration of drought
 The spread and escalating severity of devastating fungal pathogens
 Coffee wilt disease
 The emergence and/or spread of other diseases and pests
 Social, economic, and market-based factors.

A new study published on Science Advances states that 60 percent of wild coffee species could go extinct in the coming decade. Arabica and Robusta are under threat from climate change, and saving the wild coffee plants might be the key to saving your daily cup.

• Popular Mechanics. 2019. More Than Half Of Coffee Species Are In Danger Of Extinction. Available at: https://www.popularmechanics.com/science/environment/a25917401/wild-coffee-extinction/ [Accessed 4 January 2021https://dailycoffeenews.com/2020/03/13/a-single-super-parent-plant-birthed-all-of-arabica-research-finds/ [Accessed 4 January 2021https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/5/1/eaav3473 [Accessed 4 January 2021].

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