One of the greatest problems in Coffea arabica breeding is identifying precisely any inbred line, based only on botanical and agronomical descriptors, because of the reduced genetic variability of the species, close pedigree origin, which results in small phenotypic variation. Recently, molecular markers have been used for plant germplasm characterization and identification in several commercial species. This work evaluates the reliability of three marker systems: RAPD, AFLP and SSR, to characterize the genetic variability of commercially-used Coffea inbred lines developed by the Instituto Agronômico (IAC), and their potential for cultivar identification. All methods identified polymorphisms among the cultivars. The genetic diversity recognized by the methods is very similar, although is very narrow. RAPD and SSR marker systems grouped more efficiently the evaluated cultivars according to parental origin. None of the methods allowed inbred line identification. Therefore for varietal protection, it would be necessary using a combination of botanical, agronomical and molecular markers descriptors for precise cultivar identification.
coffee; cultivar identification; molecular markers