Most varieties today are not likely to be ready to tolerate new disease and insect pressures as well as increased heat and other environmental threats posed by climate change. In order to protect the supplies of Arabica coffee in the medium and long terms from these and other unknown future threats, WCR will support national and international breeding programs through the development of new genetically diverse ‘populations’ or ‘pre-breeding pools’ that possess important genetic diversity likely to fill the needs for economic and market-desirable traits for use by these breeding programs, in and for those countries and regions. In doing so, WCR will enhance the efficacy and greatly reduce the time needed by the national programs to develop and release new, high yielding, high quality varieties and hybrids with tolerances and resistance to current and future production constraints faced in the different Arabica producing regions of the world.
The pre-breeding pools will be created through classic plant breeding techniques like crossing and selection as well as more advanced methods using genomics to insure the maximum amount of genetic diversity is captured. These markers could then be used to expedite the assembly of desired traits into a single. Creation of the pre-breeding pools will be done by assembling as much genetic diversity as possible in a pool of agronomically sound genetic material which will be then screened for the desirable target traits. In order to create these pre-breeding populations with enough genetic diversity for these economically important traits, WCR will utilize genetic material from the current germplasm collections as well as new material coming from wild populations from the WCR GERMPLASM Project.
Although several pre-breeding populations will be created with as much genetic diversity as possible and with extreme attribute orientation, their use will be prioritized with regard to the development of sub pre-breeding population oriented specifically to mitigate the effects of climate change on coffee production and quality. This population will possess genes with tolerance to high heat, drought, and major pest resistances but with high quality and productivity. The sub populations selected from the pre-breeding pools will be elastic so that selection for high quality traits at higher altitudes should also produce exceptional quality material for the high-end segment of market and allow producers to remain on their high altitude farms.
All populations will be maintained through WCR collaborative partnerships with national and international programs and will constitute the major reservoir into which national programs can tap into according to their current and future needs of their growers and the Industry.
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