Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution

, Volume 66, Issue 1, pp 259–273 | Cite as

Biochemical diversity of global tea [Camellia sinensis (L.) O. Kuntze] germplasm and its exploitation: a review

  • J. Dananjaya Kottawa-ArachchiEmail author
  • M. T. Kumudini Gunasekare
  • Mahasen A. B. Ranatunga
Review Article


Tea (Camellia sinensis L.) is the most widely-consumed beverage in the world. The biochemical components of tea leave include polyphenols (catechins and flavonoides), alkaloids (caffeine, theobromine, theophylline, etc.), volatile compounds, polysaccharides, amino acids, lipids and vitamins show a variety of bioactivities. Prolong cross-pollination nature of tea plants have produced considerable heritable variation, resulting in a high level of genetic diversity. The collection and conservation of the cultivars, landraces and wild relatives of the tea plant provides breeders with fundamental materials from which new cultivars are to be developed. The major role of tea breeding is to improve productivity, enhance tolerant to biotic and abiotic stress, and increase tea flavor and quality. Dissection of the genetic basis of these traits provides the potential for accelerating the breeding process by developing new tools such as marker-assisted selection. Therefore present review provides an overview of the biochemical and metabolite diversity of the global tea germplasm and its characterization and utilization.


Caffeine Camellia sinensis Catechins Fingerprinting Genetic diversity Germplasm characterization 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Plant Breeding DivisionTea Research Institute of Sri LankaTalawakelleSri Lanka
  2. 2.Ministry of Primary Industries, Level 18, West Tower, World Trade CenterColomboSri Lanka

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