― Research Aid to the University of California, Davis ―
Suntory Global Innovation Center Limited provided research aid to a research team at the University of California, Davis (UC Davis) that successfully sequenced the genome of Coffea arabica.
Coffea arabica comprises 70 to 80% of total coffee production. It is known for its good fragrance and flavor yet is susceptible to disease as well as atmospheric temperature and humidity level, so it can only be grown in locations such as high ground in tropical regions.
Genome sequencing has already been completed for Coffea canephora, and its structure was released in 2014. However, the Coffea arabica genome has yet to be sequenced, and many research groups are tackling this theme that is the target of much attention across the world.
Suntory Global Innovation Center Limited gave funding to UC Davis, which is working to sequence the Coffea arabica genome, to build a base for coffee beverage creation and contribute to the production of coffees with new value. It also provided support such as research progress management.
Genome sequencing for Geisha, a variety of Coffea arabica whose genome size is estimated to be about 1.2 billion base pairs has been successfully determined, revealing an estimated 70,830 predicted genes.
By comparing this to the previously sequenced Coffea canephora genome, it is expected that factors can be identified that cause differences in fragrance, flavor, and growing characteristics.
The new genome sequence has been posted and will be published at Phytozome.net, the public database for plant genomics database coordinated by the Department of Energy’s Joint Genome Institute. Details of the research will be presented Sunday, Jan. 15, at the international Plant and Animal Genome Conference in San Diego.
It is expected that gene functional analysis can be applied to predicting coffee flavor and fragrance characteristics, as well as the development of new cultivation technologies, in the future. It is also expected that utilizing the gene linkage map for variety improvement will contribute to the creation of coffees with new value, including varieties with new fragrances and flavors and varieties that are resistant to disease.
The Suntory Group will continue research and development—including developing formulas and raw materials for coffee beverages with higher added value—with a focus on safety, security, and good taste.