Jody Victor: Engineering a Better Bean

Nick Brown from Daily Coffee News wrote about a new genome sequencing project – however this isn’t the human genome, but rather that of a coffee bean. Coffea arabica, to be precise. Researchers believe their work will lead to “new high-quality, adaptable coffee varieties.”

The research is being done at the University of California, Davis. University researchers collaborated with Jay Ruskey of Good Land Organics farm in California’s Central Coast Region near Santa Barbara.

23 samples of Geisha coffee trees at varied levels of development were collected from Good Land Organics to be sequenced along with 22 other Geisha samples within 13 alternative varieties. Researchers’ goal was to best understand genetic diversity within the various varieties.

The research looked at 1.19 million base pairs—to give you an idea of the magnitude of the project, that is about 1/3 of the base pairs examined in the human genome. This initial study, while one of a kind, found little genetic diversity among the samples.
The new genome sequence has been posted to Phytozome.net, the public database for comparative plant genomics.