Coffee is a member of the Rubiaceae family and the genus Coffea. There are more than 70 species of coffee but only two are economically important: Coffea arabica L. and Coffea canephora Pierre; 70 % of the coffee traded in the world is arabica and 30 % is robusta (C. canephora). Other species such as C. congensis, C. dewevrei and C. racemosa have some interesting genetic characteristics, including resistance to pests and diseases and are used in breeding programs. To satisfy the demand for coffee within Brazil and around the world, intensive breeding programs have been undertaken to create new cultivars which are resistant to diseases and insects, and to incorporate new traits of value. In addition, new production and processing technologies are introduced every year, which have led to an enormous improvement in coffee production. Although progress has been made, not many studies have been devoted to the improvement of coffee seed quality for propagation. The purpose of this paper is to review our understanding of coffee seed physiology. Most of the work published in the literature and reported in this paper is on C. arabica seeds, although some aspects of C. canephora seed physiology are also included. Knowledge of seed physiology of other Coffea species is poor, with the exception of storage physiology, which is mostly related to germplasm conservation. Although this review will discuss some aspects of seed development and morphology, germination and storage physiology, the focus will be on germinability, and desiccation tolerance, with emphasis on the conservation of genetic resource
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