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ZEF - Staff

Junior Researcher

Dr. Kassahun Tesfaye Geletu

Contact E-Mail

Genetic Diversity of wild Coffea arabica populations in Ethiopia as a contribution for conservation and use planning

Arabica coffee (Coffea arabica) is a crop of worldwide importance that originates from the Ethiopian highlands. Wild populations of C. arabica grow naturally in the undergrowth of the montane rain forests in southwest Ethiopia at altitudes between 1,400 and 1,900 m. Preliminary analyses suggest the genetic diversity to be much higher among Ethiopian wild populations than among known cultivars.

Currently, the forest coffee ecosystem is under greatest threat due to deforestation as a result of establishment and expansion of big farms and migration and human settlements. Therefore, the collection, characterization and conservation of germpasm is highly important. Compiling information on the extent and distribution of the genetic diversity of C. arabic populations in Ethiopia is a crucial variable in planning for in situ conservation and utilization such as in breeding. This study aims at analyzing the remaining genetic diversity of Coffea in Ethiopia on different levels (within populations, within geographical regions, between regions).


Genetic distance (divergence) is greatest between populations of different regions and follows a geographical pattern.
The different landraces (cultivars) in different regions are related to the respective nearby populations, so that a very high genetic diversity among these landraces is to be expected.
The diversity within wild population differs in relation to the history of the actual vegetation they are growing in and to other environmental factors.

Investigation of the molecular diversity and its patterns of distribution among naturally existing populations of C. arabica in Ethiopia (including some landraces for reference and a test whether the species has a single evolutionary origin)
Materials and Methods
Plant Materials
Samples from all identified wild coffee areas will be included for interregional analysis, and samples from Boginda and Birhan-Kontir will be considered for detailed intraregional studies. In addition other species of Coffea and known landraces will be included for the assessment of putative parental genomes and comparison.

Marker Systems
Genomic DNA will isolated from dried young leaves by a modified version of the CTAB method. Different marker systems such as ISSRs, ITS, and microsatellites from the nuclear and the chloroplast genomes will be used in this study.

Application of the Results
The results of this study will be applied for identification of priority sites for in-situ conservation, and sustainable use of genetic resources.

ZEF - Ecology and Development Series No. 44, 2005, ISBN-3-86727-986-1 Cuvillier Verlag, Göttingen
Department ZEF C: Department of Ecology and Natural Resources Management
Contacts ZEF,

Nees-Institute for the Biodiversityof Plants
University of Bonn
Meckenheimer Allee 170
53115 Bonn
Phone: 49-228-73 2526
Fax: 49-228-73 3120,

Department of Biology
Addis Ababa University
P.O. Box 1176
Addis Ababa
Research countries - Ethiopia
Research topic Genetic Diversity of wild Coffea arabica populations in Ethiopia as a contribution for conservation and use planning
Projects Conservation and use of wild populations of Coffea arabica in the montane rainforests of Ethiopia (CoCE),

Particularly involved in Sp2
Molecular Systematics as a Basis for Managing the
Genetic Diversity of Coffea arabica
Working groups Nees Institute for Biodiversity of Plants
Molecular Systematics Working Group
Affiliation of research Biodiversity Conservation Research
Plant Breeding and Genetics
Degrees B.Sc in Plant Science
Alemaya University of Agriculture,

M.Sc in Applied Genetics (Biology)
Addis Ababa University
Professional experience Agricultural Researcher (Crop Breeding/ Genetics)
Agricultural Research Center Manager (2000-2002)
Sinana Agricultural Research Center
Oromia Agricultural Research Institute (IQQO)
P O Box 208 Bale/Robe, Ethiopia
Financially supported by BMBF
Cooperation partners Working at the
Nees-Institute for the Biodiverstiy of Plants, Molecular Systematics Working Group, University of Bonn

Departments of Biology
Addis Ababa University and Ethiopian Agricultural Research Organization/Ethiopia

Tesfaye G., K., K. Govers, E. Bekele and T. Borsch. Forthcoming. ISSR fingerprinting of Coffea arabica throughout Ethiopia reveals high variability in wild populations and distinguishes them from farmer's varieties.

Tesfaye G., K., K. Govers, T. Oljira, E. Bekele and T. Borsch. Forthcoming. Genetic diversity of wild Coffea arabica in Ethiopia: Spacial patterning depends on scale.

Tesfaye G., K., T. Borsch, K. Govers, and E. Bekele. 2007. Characterisation of Coffea chloroplast microsatellites and evidence for the recent divergence of the C. arabica and C. eugenioides chloroplast genomes. Genome, 50 (12): 1112-1129.
Further Information:

Tesfaye G., K. 2006. Genetic Diversity of wild Coffea arabica populations in Ethiopia as a contribution to conservation and use planning. Ecology and Development Series, 44:

Tesfaye Geletu, K., Z. Asfaw and E. Bekele. 2002. Agroethnobotanical Study of Emmer Wheat (Triticum dicoccum) in Southeastern Highlands of Ethiopia. A paper presented at the workshop of 8th International of congress of International Society of Ethiopia.

Tesfaye Geletu,K., K. Girma, C. Padmapati, A. Rodiyonov and Q. Gubo. 2001. The shift to cereal monocropping, threat or blessing? towards sustainable agricultural production in the highlands of Southeast Oromia, Ethiopia. ICRA,

Tesfaye Geletu, K. 2000. Morphological and Biochemical Diversity of Emmer Wheat (Triticum dicoccum) in Ethiopia. M.Sc. Thesis. Addis Ababa University, Science Faculty, Department of Biology, Applied Genetics Section,

Getachew, T., M. Amsalu and K. Tesfaye Geletu. 1996. An overview of Varietal improvement on major crops in Bale Zone of Oromiya Region. A paper presented at the workshop technology generation, transfer and gat analysis, 9-11, July 1996. Nazareth.

Tesfaye Geletu, K. 1995. Progress Report of Breeding and Genetics Research Division of Sinana Agricultural Research Center 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2000 and 2001.