Variation in bean morphology and biochemical composition measured in different genetic groups of arabica coffee (Coffea arabica L.)

  • Hue T. M. Tran
  • Carlos Alberto Cordero Vargas
  • L. Slade Lee
  • Agnelo Furtado
  • Heather Smyth
  • Robert Henry
Original Article
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Germplasm Diversity


The narrow genetic base of commercial arabica resulting from intensive selection for quality during domestication and self-pollination has been well documented, raising the need for new diverse germplasm sources. Beans of 232 diverse arabica coffee accessions originating from 27 countries were harvested from the germplasm collection at CATIE, Costa Rica. Substantial variation was observed for bean morphology including 100 bean weight, bean length, width, thickness and bulk density. Non-volatiles including caffeine and trigonelline were analysed and showed larger variation in range than has previously been reported. Results of targeted analysis of 18 volatiles from 35 accessions also showed significant variation, with coefficients of variation from 140% for 4-vinylguaiacol to 62% for geraniol. There were strong correlations between some volatile compounds, suggesting that representative volatiles used in selection would save analytical costs. However, no strong correlation was found between bean morphology and the levels of non-volatile or volatile compounds, implying that it is difficult to select for low or high composition of these compounds based on bean physical characteristics. Utilizing the large variation observed for bean morphology and biochemical traits, it should be possible to select for desirable combinations of traits in arabica coffee breeding.


Arabica coffee Coffee bean Volatile compounds Non-volatile compounds Caffeine Trigoneline 



The authors would like to acknowledge the Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE) for research germplasm, Peter Wolff—Wolff Coffee—for bean roasting and Wenny Sunarharum, Steve Fuller and Kent Fanning for advice and laboratory analysis.

Data archiving statement

The list of germplasm used in the manuscript was provided in the supplement data. Data on volatile compounds of 35 accessions used in the manuscript were also provided in the supplement data.

Author contributions

Tran, H. T.M. and Henry, R. J. conceptualized and outlined the manuscript and wrote the manuscript. Tran, H. T.M. and Vargas, C.A.C. collected coffee samples. Tran, H. T.M. carried out bean measurement and sample preparation for HPLC and GCMS analysis and performed data analyses. Smyth, H. conducted the volatile compound identification and quatification. Lee, L. S. and Furtado, A. contributed to the completion of the manuscript. All authors reviewed and approved the final manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


This project is jointly supported by the Australian Research Council (ARC) and Green Cauldron.

Supplementary material

11295_2017_1138_MOESM1_ESM.docx (866 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 865 kb)
11295_2017_1138_MOESM2_ESM.xlsx (21 kb)
ESM 2 (XLSX 20 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hue T. M. Tran
    • 1
    • 2
  • Carlos Alberto Cordero Vargas
    • 3
  • L. Slade Lee
    • 1
    • 4
  • Agnelo Furtado
    • 1
  • Heather Smyth
    • 1
  • Robert Henry
    • 1
  1. 1.Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAAFI)The University of QueenslandSt. LuciaAustralia
  2. 2.Western Highlands Agriculture & Forestry Science Institute (WASI)DaklakVietnam
  3. 3.Centro Agronómico Tropical de Investigación y Enseñanza (CATIE)TurrialbaCosta Rica
  4. 4.Southern Cross UniversityLismoreAustralia

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