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[Oral Presentation] Contributions to the conservation of genetic resources of Coffee in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingC3: Conference Abstract

Robusta and Arabica are the most important cultivated and commercialized coffee species. Numerous publications and reports are warning for the impact of climate change on coffee production. In the context of the adaption of the coffee culture to climate change and the quest for resistance of coffee trees to emerging pests, crop wild relatives are very important genetic resources. They can be a source of traits for breeding, or even as alternative species as a whole for production (cf. the introduction of Robusta coffee in the early twentieth century). Several studies suggest that Coffea arabica has evolved in the Rift region through one hybridization event between Coffea canephora (‘Robusta’) and Coffea eugenioidesis. Therefore West and Central Africa, including the (Albertine) Rift Region, are particularly interesting as they are the homeland of currently cultivated coffee (cf. Hamon et al. 2017). The Congo basin and the Kivu are housing a very important stock of genetic resources, but they are seriously underrepresented in coffee gene banks, both locally and globally.
Meise Botanic Garden has been studying the wild diversity of Coffea in Central and West Africa for almost 25 years and is a reference for the knowledge on wild coffee diversity. Recently the Garden started two projects aiming to better conserve the genetic diversity of Coffea in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In a first project, the Garden is assisting local partners to evaluate and rehabilitate the existing Coffea canephora (Robusta) collection of the INERA Yangambi. Local staff is being trained and the coffee collections of the INERA are being enriched with ‘new’ genetic diversity collected in the wild and in backyards. In a second project, Meise Botanic Garden will contribute to the ex-situ conservation and knowledge on Coffee in the Kivu (with a focus on the high altitude forests and an endemic species from these forests). This project runs in collaboration with local universities, research institutes and an NGO supporting local coffee farmer cooperations.
With these project the Garden aims to increase knowledge on coffee in the region, to train local researchers and agronomists and to contribute to the conservation of and the access to the genetic resources of coffee in Democratic Republic of Congo. The first results will be illustrated and discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationASIC Conference 2018
Publication date2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Event27th Conference of The Association for Science and Information on Coffee (ASIC) - Portland, United States
Duration: 16-Sept-201820-Sept-2018
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