PerspectiveBOTANY

A wake-up call with coffee

Science  05 Sep 2014:
Vol. 345, Issue 6201, pp. 1124
DOI: 10.1126/science.1258941

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Summary

The captain of the starship Voyager from one of the latter-day Star Trek television series expressed the sentiments of many by stating: “Coffee, the finest organic suspension ever devised.” On page 1181, Denoeud et al. present a draft genome of the diploid Coffea canephora (1), one of the two founder species of the tetraploid crop Coffea arabica. Coffee, the plant bearing the irresistible bean that delivers the most widely consumed psychoactive drug in the world—caffeine—joins a long list of crop species that have been sequenced using ever-improving genomic hardware and assembly software (2). High-quality genome assemblies facilitate the resequencing of many cultivated varieties, landraces (local ecotypes), and sometimes wild, crop-related species. The challenge now is to translate these decoded genomes into new and improved tools for plant breeding; there is a need for a better balance of research priorities, with greater emphasis on crop phenotypes.