Somatic embryogenesis of pathogen-tolerant coffee varieties
Starting in 1999, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Costa Rica, began trials of clones of F1 hybrids of Coffea arabica, coming from the long cooperation of CIRAD and IRD with PROMECAFE and CATIE, specifically from a selection of trees made in hybrid descendants whose purpose was to develop new varieties, more vigorous than the traditional ones, crossing the latter with wild varieties from Ethiopia. In the present project, the plants were multiplied using the somatic embryogenesis multiplication technique developed by the CATIE-CIRAD cooperation. With the support of FONTAGRO, between 2002 and 2005, trials were continued to verify the behavior of all the clones. Three clones were selected for the semi-commercial field validation stage. In four harvests, the clones produced up to 150% more, on average, than traditional varieties. These clones are more vigorous and have longer fruit-bearing branches than traditional varieties and show higher rates of empty fruits and malformed grains. Grain size is similar and sometimes larger. Clones react to altitude like other varieties, with an increase in grain density. The tastings showed that the selected clones produce a coffee of the same organoleptic quality as the traditional varieties. The development and dissemination of these clones in Central American agriculture will require an even more important investment.
The technological solution
The technological solution was based on traditional cross-breeding and genetic selection, supported by the multiplication of germplasm by a novel process of somatic embryogenesis. This multiplication process can be adopted by national research organizations to speed up the work of genetic improvement programs intended to obtain improved varieties, tested in different production systems in the region.
The major result has been the selection of three clones that in four harvests had significantly higher yields (up to 150% more on average) than traditional varieties. These clones, which were ready to move on to the semi-commercial field validation stage and are candidates to become new varieties, are LI_L13A44, LI_L12A28 (both from cross T05296 x Rume Sudan) and LI_L04A34 (Caturra x ET41). In addition, six more clones have been pre-selected, awaiting the fourth harvest. In addition to the higher productivity, the selected clones have shown good organoleptic quality and may become important varieties for the benefit of family agriculture in the region.
The direct beneficiaries are the coffee improvement programs of the Central American countries, which have the important contribution of improved clones that will serve as the basis for the generation of new commercial varieties with good productive and organoleptic characteristics and adapted to the diversity of agro-ecological environments in the region. In the long term, the beneficiaries will be the coffee producers of Central America.
Sustainable Development Goals
- PROMECAFE - IICA - Guatemala
- Asociación Nacional del Café (ANACAFE) - Guatemala
- Instituto del Café de Costa Rica (ICAFE) - Costa Rica
- IHCAFE - Honduras
- MIDA - Panamá
- Fundación Salvadoreña para Investigaciones de Café (PROCAFE) - El Salvador
- UNICAFE - Nicaragua