Published in Applied Research
International consortium releases genome sequence of robusta coffee
An international team of scientists has generated a high-quality draft genome of Robusta coffee (Coffea canephora). Published in the journal Science, the genome study compared the plant's genetic sequences with those of grapevine, tomato and Arabidopsis. It also revealed 23 new genes found only in coffee, and showed that the genes that brew caffeine in coffee are different from the ones in cacao and tea, but more closely related to the genes within the plant. Such a finding suggests that caffeine production developed independently in coffee.
The newly described genome also reveals that C. canephora has larger gene families related to the production of alkaloid and flavonoid compounds, which contribute to qualities such as coffee aroma and bitterness of beans. It also has an expanded collection of enzymes involved in making caffeine called N-methyltransferases. It was also revealed that evolutionary diversification of the coffee genome was likely driven by duplications in particular gene families as opposed to en masse, when all genes in the genome duplicate.

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