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Productivity and genetic diversity of Wild coffee (Coffea arabica) in its center of origin, southern Ethiopia, in relation to forest management and land use.

Wild coffee (Coffea arabica L.) is a shrub native to the Afromontane forests of southern Ethiopia. It is the crop wild relative of Arabica coffee, one of the most important commodities in the world. Highly valued for its exquisite taste, this crop is still traditionally grown under forest canopy. Wild populations in these forests also serve as a source of genetic diversity for selecting and breeding more productive and more disease resistant races. Unfortunately, forest fragmentation and degradation are threatening the high forests of southern Ethiopia, and thus, also the wild coffee populations. We expect that forest fragmentation is affecting pollination and seed dispersal and therefore limiting the gene flow between isolated coffee populations. Small populations are also more susceptible to the loss of alleles due to genetic drift. The introduction of remote land races into the fragments furthermore threatens the genetic diversity of Wild coffee due to the potential effects of introgression and outbreeding. Aiming to support in situ conservation of the genetic diversity of Wild coffee, we will provide answers to the following research questions:Are the populations of Wild coffee in the Afromontane forests of southern Ethiopia susceptible to genetic erosion, and if so, can it be related to forest fragmentation, forest management or the introduction of remote land races?Is it possible to identify processes at the landscape scale that can be related to genetic erosion of Wild coffee (e.g. pollination)?Is genetic erosion also reflected in reduced productivity of Wild coffee? Field work is carried out near Jimma, Oromia Regional State, 280 km southwest of Addis Ababa, in collaboration with Jimma University and the Environmental Health and Ecology project of the IUC-JU program.
Date:1 Oct 2008  →  30 Sep 2011
Keywords:Crop wild relatives, Ethiopia, Forest management, Micro satellites, Genetic diversity
Disciplines:Agricultural animal production, Agricultural plant production, Agriculture, land and farm management, Other agriculture, forestry, fisheries and allied sciences, Forestry sciences, Plant biology