Coffee is one of the most traded commodities in the world. It plays a significant role in the global economy, employing over 125 million people. However, it is possible that this vital crop is threatened by changing climate conditions and fungal infections. This paper reviews how suitable areas for coffee cultivation and the toxigenic fungi species of Aspergillus, Penicillium,
will be affected due to climate change. By combining climate models with species distribution models, a number of studies have investigated the future distribution of coffee cultivation. Studies predict that suitable coffee cultivation area could drop by ~50% under representation concentration pathway (RCP) 6.0 by 2050 for both Arabica and Robusta. These findings agree with other studies which also see an altitudinal migration of suitable cultivation areas to cooler regions, but limited scope for latitudinal migration owing to coffee’s inability to tolerate seasonal temperature changes. Increased temperatures will see an overall increase in mycotoxin production such as aflatoxins, particularly in mycotoxigenic fungi (e.g., Aspergillus flavus
) more suited to higher temperatures. Arabica and Robusta’s limited ability to relocate means both species will be grown in less suitable climates, increasing plant stress and making coffee more susceptible to fungal infection and mycotoxins. Information regarding climate change parameters with respect to mycotoxin concentrations in real coffee samples is provided and how the changed climate affects mycotoxins in non-coffee systems is discussed. In a few areas where relocating farms is possible, mycotoxin contamination may decrease due to the “parasites lost” phenomenon. More research is needed to include the effect of mycotoxins on coffee under various climate change scenarios, as currently there is a significant knowledge gap, and only generalisations can be made. Future modelling of coffee cultivation, which includes the influence of atmospheric carbon dioxide fertilisation and forest management, is also required; however, all indications show that climate change will have an extremely negative effect on future coffee production worldwide in terms of both a loss of suitable cultivation areas and an increase in mycotoxin contamination.
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