Mutations You Can Taste: DNA Unlocks Flavors of World’s Most Popular Coffee

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Researchers have discovered that the genetic factors that contribute to the unique characteristics of coffee plant species, Arabica and robusta, are largely due to polyploidy, a phenomenon where each chromosome has multiple copies. This results in a high degree of genetic variation, often resulting in varieties that only slightly differ from the original. Despite low genetic variability, major changes at other levels, such as chromosome count, could be responsible for the diversity in flavor and disease resistance. This study reveals potential vulnerabilities for the crop, which could prevent it from becoming like the Gros Michel banana or wilting away in the face of climate change. In the future, coffee breeders may be able to select for resistance to fungus or different caffeine levels, potentially enabling them to adapt to climate change.

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Source: Coffee Talk

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