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Main research question/goal
The montane rainforests of southwest Ethiopia are the primary centre of diversity of Coffea arabica. All of the arabica coffee grown worldwide originates from these forests. Ethiopian wild arabica coffee therefore constitutes a unique source of genetic diversity for the breeding of improved arabica cultivars. Despite its importance for the coffee industry and for the livelihood of the rural communities in the region, the status of the wild genepool of arabica coffee is largely unknown. This wild genepool may be threatened by forest fragmentation and habitat degradation, and possibly also by introgressive hybridization with locally improved coffee varieties. The main aim of this study is to assess the genetic diversity in the gene pool of wild Coffea arabica in its centre of origin, the southwestern Ethiopian montane rainforests, and to determine the influence of the local coffee forest management on pollination patterns.


Research approach
This research is coordinated by Prof Olivier Honnay (KU Leuven) and is the subject of the PhD research of Gezaehgn Barecha (KU Leuven and Jimma University). ILVO researchers are involved in the DNA-marker analysis. SSR markers are used to genotype coffee shrubs from highly managed and unmanaged populations and Ethiopian varieties resistant to coffee berry disease (CBD). This information is used to determine the patterns of genetic diversity, genetic structure and admixture with cultivated varieties in the in situ gene pool. Paternity analysis of berries collected in these forests is used to determine the influence of management intensity on the pollination patterns.


This study is conducted by researchers from Jimma University (Ethiopia) and contributes to the training of these researchers in the field of molecular genetics. The results obtained will allow formulating recommendations for the in situ conservation of the wild gene pool of arabica coffee in Ethiopia.

Effective start/end date1/01/0931/12/12

ID: 4161113