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Last Updated: Wednesday, 11 August, 2004, 01:18 GMT 02:18 UK
Brazilians decode coffee genome
By Steve Kingstone
BBC correspondent, Sao Paulo

Coffee beans
Super-coffee could be around the corner
Scientists in Brazil have decoded the genetic structure of the country's best-known product, coffee.

The success of a two-year government project was announced on Tuesday by the country's agriculture minister.

Roberto Rodrigues said an extraordinary horizon had opened up - and the coffee would taste even better as a result.

He proclaimed that Brazil would use the genetic code to create a super-coffee, richer in taste, more aromatic and resistant to disease and frost.

Competition boost

Suddenly, scientists know an awful lot about coffee in Brazil.

Having studied 200,000 strands of DNA, they have identified 35,000 coffee genes, a combination of which gives the drink its aroma and flavour.

"We are going to create a super-coffee that everyone can benefit from eventually," Mr Rodrigues told reporters in Brasilia.

He said this would be achieved naturally through cross-pollination of coffee plants and not through genetic modifications in a laboratory.

If that boast rings true, Brazil will move even further ahead of its competitors.

Already, the country accounts for a third of the world's coffee production.

The government will not make these findings available internationally for at least two years.

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