International Coffee Collection
The CATIE coffee collection is highly diverse genetically, consisting of a total of 1,992 introductions. It was originated in 1949 with materials from Brazil, Guatemala and El Salvador. In the 1960s, it was strengthened with wild materials from Ethiopia, including the original materials collected by the FAO (Fernie et al. 1968) and subsequently by ORSTOM (today the IRD) (Guillaumet and Hallé 1978), plus new species collected by IPGRI in Yemen (Eskes 1989).
This collection is the fourth largest in the world, containing a large part of the genetic diversity of Coffea arabica (Anthony et al. 1999), and it is the most important collection of Coffea arabica on the American continent, due to the number of introductions and the genetic diversity conserved. The collection has different types of genetic material: a) more than 800 wild coffee genotypes and diploid species; b) leaf rust-resistant varieties, mutants and selected plants; c) inter- and intra-specific hybrids; and d) research material. The agreement signed with the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Agriculture and Food makes CATIE’s collection the most important Arabica coffee germplasm bank in the public domain.
For more than 60 years, the collection has implemented breeding programs for genetic enhancement and distributed materials to producing countries. Outstanding materials with resistance to leaf rust include sources of germplasm that allow the generation of F1 hybrids, recently released in Central America. In the case of Costa Rica, the program that generated the variety Costa Rica 95 (leaf rust-resistant) was able to select plants from the 200 different types of Catimores present in the CATIE collection (ICAFE, 1998). Coffea canephora materials (leaf rust-resistant), which are the basis of the improved materials that are in use in Ecuador’s Amazon region today, were introduced from CATIE between 1943 and 1986. Another example is the successful introduction of the geisha variety (leaf rust-resistant) that was done in Panama from the CATIE collection.
F1 seed dissemination
This is a genetically super-diverse seed for enriching Arabica plant breeding programs worldwide.
Under an agreement between CATIE, CIRAD and PROMECAFE, and with the participation of the coffee institutes of Central America, different coffee hybrids have been developed over 15 years that show high productive potential (at least 30% more production than the commercial varieties currently used on farms), hardiness and bean quality. Some of the F1 hybrids show higher resistance to leaf rust and have already been released commercially.
CATIE has a somatic embryogenesis laboratory and has mastered the technology for plant reproduction. On the other hand, the CATIE seed laboratory already has a hybrid production program using micro-stakes. Another strength of CATIE is knowledge about the design, establishment and management of coffee plantations with F1 hybrids, which makes the development of training programs for technicians and producers possible.