WCR releases Arabica genetic fingerprint database

WCR Robusta Variety Catalog

World Coffee Research (WCR) has announced the release of an Arabica coffee genetic fingerprint database that will make variety authentication cheaper and simpler.

“This unique achievement brings new technology to coffee to dramatically reduce quality control costs to ensure the future of coffee agriculture,” says WCR CEO Dr. Jennifer “Vern” Long. “We have tremendous enthusiasm for this new global public good for the coffee sector, and encourage widespread uptake by coffee sector actors involved in planting new trees—from funders to implementers to growers to public institutions.”

Verification of coffee varieties ensures quality control of plant material is available to farmers worldwide. WCR is making the database openly accessible to the scientific community so that it can be used by public and private labs for variety verification.

The organisation says that one of the database’s most important applications is the development of low-cost variety authentication to support coffee’s evolving seed sector.

The database of genetic fingerprints for Arabica uses 45 Single Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNP) molecular markers, tiny genetic variations dispersed through a plant’s DNA sequence, to create a unique genetic fingerprint for 23 of the most commonly recognised coffee varieties in commercial coffee production in Latin America.

To ensure the coffee community has immediate access to this service, WCR worked with Swedish company Agrotech to validate and refine the database and technical protocols so that the markers can be used for high-volume applications.

The database was developed by WCR’s breeding team, led by Drs. Jorge Berny and Santos Barrera (WCR Research Scientists, Plant Breeding & Genomics) building on the marker panel developed by Dr. Dapeng Zhang (Research Geneticist) from USDA ARS.

WCR plans to add fingerprints for additional varieties in the coming months and years.

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