Meet the genes behind your morning pick-me-up

Scientists have unraveled coffee’s genome and determined that it developed caffeine independently of tea and cacao — proving (in my mind anyway) that caffeine is just that terrific a thing.

You can check out the full study, which came out this week, at Science right here. Here’s it broken down for you, via the LA Times:

Coffee developed its caffeine-generating capacity independently from its cousin, cacao, according to the first whole genome study of the plant behind the brew quaffed every morning by about 100 million Americans…

[snip]

Evolution favored caffeine production because the compound repels insects that prey on leaves and halts the germination of seeds from competing plants, giving coffee species a niche in which to thrive. Recent research also has suggested caffeine can help orient beneficial pollinators toward the coffee flower, Albert said.

[snip]

The largely French team of researchers used crushed stems, leaves and flower parts from Coffea canephora,one of the parents of the hybrid Coffea arabica, from which the bulk of coffee is brewed. They produced an annotated genome that consists of 710 million building blocks.

The ensuing database is expected to boost researchers’ ability to study the highly sensitive plant behind the top revenue-generating export of dozens of nations on four continents. About 39 countries exported 5.3 million metric tons coffee of coffee beans last year, according to the International Coffee Organization, a trade group.

As you might expect, this decoding of coffee’s building blocks could be used to economic ends: figuring out how to make coffee resistant to things like coffee rust or helping expand production.

We just need supplies to keep up with the growth of Ashtanga.

Posted by Steve

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theconfluencecountdown

Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

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