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Genetic resources of Coffea canephora have been introduced in several tropical countries with potential for crop development. In Ecuador, the species has been cultivated since the mid-20th century. However, little is known about the diversity and genetic structure of introduced germplasm. This paper provides an overview of the genetic and phenotypic diversity of C. canephora in Ecuador and some proposals for implementing a breeding program. Twelve SSR markers were used to analyze 1491 plants of C. canephora grown in different living collections in Ecuador, compared to 29 genotypes representing the main genetic and geographic diversity groups identified within the species. Results indicated that most of the genotypes introduced are of Congolese origin, with accessions from both main subgroups, SG1 and SG2. Some genotypes were classed as hybrids between both subgroups. Substantial phenotypic diversity was also found, and correlations were observed with genetic diversity. Ecuadorian Robusta coffee displays wide genetic diversity and we propose some ways of improving Robusta in Ecuador. A breeding program could be based on three operations: the choice of elite clones, the introduction of new material from other countries (Ivory Coast, Uganda), and the creation of new hybrid material using genotypes from the different diversity groups.


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