Most of the world’s wild coffee species have a high chance of going extinct in the next several decades due to more frequent and lengthy droughts, loss of forests and the spread of deadly pests, according to a study1 published on 16 January in Science Advances.
The findings signal a potential threat to the multibillion-dollar coffee industry that’s dominated by two varieties — arabica (Coffea arabica) and robusta (Coffea canephora) beans. Arabica is susceptible to high temperatures, whereas robusta is sensitive to dry soils. But the genetic diversity within some of the 124 wild species could help breeders to boost the viability of commercial plants in the face of a changing climate.
“A number of coffee species have traits that allow them to grow in hostile and drier conditions,” says study co-author Aaron Davis, a coffee researcher at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, in London. “But if you start losing species, you start losing options.” Read more