Phylogenomic analysis clarifies the evolutionary origin of Coffea arabica

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Interspecific hybridization events have played a major role in plant speciation, yet the evolutionary origin of hybrid species often remains enigmatic. Here, we inferred the evolutionary origin of the allotetraploid species Coffea arabica, which is widely cultivated for Arabica coffee production. We estimated genetic distances between C. arabica and all species that are known to be closely related to C. arabica using genotyping-by-sequencing (GBS) data. In addition, we reconstructed a time-calibrated multilabeled phylogenetic tree of 24 species to estimate the age of the C. arabica hybridization event. Ancestral states of self-compatibility were also inferred to shed new light on the evolution of self-compatibility in Coffea. Coffea canephora and C. eugenioides were confirmed as the putative progenitor species of C. arabica. These species most likely hybridized between 1.08 million and 543 000 years ago, coinciding with periods of environmental upheaval, which may have induced range shifts of the progenitor species that facilitated the emergence of C. arabica.




Bawin, Y., Ruttink, T., Staelens, A., Haegeman, A., Stoffelen, P., Mwanga Mwanga, J. C. I., … Janssens, S. B. (2021). Phylogenomic analysis clarifies the evolutionary origin of Coffea arabica. Journal of Systematics and Evolution, 59(5), 953–963.

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