, Volume 43, Issue 3, pp 221-227

Multivariate analysis of phenotypic diversity of Coffea arabica

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Eighteen different morphological and agronomical traits observed in a field collection of 148 accessions of Coffea arabica were analyzed using multivariate analysis. For the first time, a clear structure is observed within this species with the identification of two main groups. Accessions of group 1 have a more erect branching habit, narrower leaves and are on average more resistant to coffee leaf rust and coffee berry disease than accessions of group 2. Group 1 mostly contains Ethiopian accessions collected west of the Great Rift Valley, whereas group 2 mostly contain commonly cultivated varieties throughout the world and Ethiopian accessions collected east of the Great Rift Valley in Ethiopia. This phenotypic structure together with historical evidence suggest that group 1 has not been involved in the domestication of C. arabica. The present results confirm that sub-spontaneous genotypes west of the Rift Valley are highly valuable for enriching the genetic basis of cultivated C. arabica germplasm. The potential value of this material in breeding of C. arabica is discussed.