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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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Research Project: Development of Biological Control Techologies & Strategies for Arthropod Pests of Perennial Tropical Crops Imp. to the Us, .. Coffee

Location: Sustainable Perennial Crops

2012 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416):
The long-term goal of this project is to increase knowledge of the biology and ecology of the coffee berry borer, and to develop innovative user-friendly, economical, and environmentally acceptable pest management technologies that can be effectively implemented. Research will focus on finding previously unrecorded natural enemies, testing a recently discovered biocontrol agent, determining whether volatiles produced by the berry can serve as attractants or repellents, and determining whether microorganisms play a role in how the insect survives on a food source containing caffeine. Over the next 5 years we will focus on the following objectives: Objective 1: Discover and evaluate the biological control potential of natural enemies of tropical pests, particularly the coffee berry borer. • Sub-objective 1.A. Identify new natural enemies of the coffee berry borer through ongoing collaborations, focusing on Kenya, Ethiopia, and Uganda. • Sub-objective 1.B. Evaluate the biocontrol potential of a recently discovered coffee berry borer predator. Objective 2: Develop methods for managing tropical pests (with focus on coffee berry borer) based on knowledge of pest biology (e.g., attractants and repellents, as well as microorganism-mediated mechanisms that allow the insect to thrive on coffee), and host plant-pest interactions, as deduced by studies of host gene expression in response to infestation. • Sub-objective 2.A. Identify coffee plant volatiles that attract or repel coffee berry borers, using in planta volatile collection techniques. • Sub-objective 2.B. Identify microorganisms associated with the coffee berry borer that contribute to insect establishment and survival inside the berry, and determine the mechanism of the interaction. These objectives will integrate various components that we believe are essential to greatly improving our understanding of the beetle and to move the field into a new direction.


1b.Approach (from AD-416):
The project will focus on the discovery and evaluation of the biological control potential and mechanisms of natural enemies of tropical pests, in particular coffee berry borer. Through ongoing collaborations new natural enemies of the coffee Berry borer will be identified and their potential as biological control agents will be evaluated. This portion of the project will focus on natural enemies from Kenya, Ethiopia, and Uganda. Further evaluations of the biological control potential of other recently discovered insect predators will be continued. The project will also focus on improving our understanding of the biology of the coffee berry borer. The project will evaluate the insect’s ability to be attracted or repelled by natural coffee volatiles. These plant attractants and/or repellents will be further evaluated for their biological control potentials. Finally, microorganisms will be identified from coffee Berry borers. These organisms will be evaluated for their ability to help the insect establish itself and survive inside the coffee berry. The biology of the insect-microorganism-interaction will also be evaluated.


3.Progress Report:
Various research projects were conducted aimed at developing biological control strategies against the coffee berry borer. Sampling of coffee berries infested with the coffee berry borer in Mexico was conducted in collaboration with scientists at El Colegio de la Frontera Sur as part of the SCA 58-1275-1-151F. More than 5,350 coffee berry borers have been dissected and 17 specimens were infected with nematodes. Taxonomic identification of the nematode is pending. Research aimed at finding previously unreported natural enemies of the coffee berry borer by determining alternate host plants of the coffee berry borer was conducted in collaboration with scientists at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew as part of SCA 58-1275-1-152-F. The entire Coffea collection, some 2,500 specimens, has been surveyed for the presence of coffee berry borers and possible infestation has been found in specimens originating from West and Central Africa. Scanning electron microscope research aimed at determining whether the coffee berry borer possesses mycangia (pits on the cuticle that can harbor microorganisms) is in progress. Various volatiles that might serve as a marking pheromone are being examined in collaboration with USDA-ARS-Peoria. Research done in collaboration with scientists at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, aimed at identifying the internal microbial diversity associated with the coffee berry borer, has resulted in the identification of dozens of microorganisms. The possible role of these microorganisms on the biology of the insect is under study.


Review Publications
Kaya, H.K., Vega, F.E. 2012. Scope and Basic Principles of Insect Pathology. In: Vega, F., Kaya, H.K., editors. Insect Pathology. 2nd edition. San Diego, CA: Academic Press. p. 1-12.

Vega, F.E., Meyling, N.V., Luangsa-Ard, J.J., Blackwell, M. 2012. Fungal Entomopathogens. In: Vega, F., Kaya, H.K., editors. Insect Pathology. 2nd Edition. San Diego, CA: Academic Press. p. 171-220.

Jaramillo, J., Muchugu, E., Vega, F.E., Davis, A., Borgemeister, C., Chabi-Olaye, A. 2011. Some like it hot: the influence and implications of climate change on coffee berry borer (Hypothenemus hampei) and coffee production in East Africa. PLoS One. 6:e24528.

Burbano, E., Wright, M., Vega, F.E. 2011. New record for the coffee berry borer, Hypothenemus hampei, in Hawaii. Journal of Insect Science. 11:117.

Last Modified: 7/28/2014
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