Searching for the Hosts of Coffee Berry Borer
The coffee berry borer (Hypothenemus hampei) is the world’s worst pest of coffee, causing losses exceeding US $500 million annually. We are searching for the hosts of coffee berry borer in order to open up new and innovative possibilities for the control of this pest.
A project started in 2011. The coffee berry borer, a small bark weevil, is the world’s worst pest of coffee. The coffee berry borer attacks the beans, which are the marketable product, causing losses exceeding US $500 million annually. Worldwide it affects many of the more than 25 million rural households involved in coffee production. Currently coffee berry borer is present in all coffee producing areas of the world, except China and Nepal, with the most recent introductions to Puerto Rico (2007) and Hawaii (2010). Considerable research has been undertaken on the insect, although the alternate host plants and have not yet been fully identified.
This project is aimed at identifying possible alternate hosts for the coffee berry borer in its area of origin (Africa), and is focused on Rubiaceae (coffee family) and Coffea (coffee). The objective is to determine whether efforts aimed at finding previously unreported biological control agents should be re-directed towards an assessment of the extent to which the coffee berry borer feeds on coffee and other members of the Rubiaceae.
A large electronic database of wild Coffea specimens, compiled and developed by RBG Kew and the National Botanical Gardens of Belgium, and linked to a Geographic Information System (GIS) will be used to assist a targeted survey of the RBG Kew Herbarium and other collections. Fruiting herbarium specimens will be examined for the activity of coffee berry borer, and any possible infestations examined using X-ray technology.
The information gathered in this project will be used by both parties to jointly determine where to further investigate for biological control agents of the coffee berry borer. Identifying and understanding the hosts and non-hosts of coffee berry borer could open up new and innovative possibilities for the biological control of this devastating pest.
Project Partners and Collaborators
National Botanic Garden of Belgium, Meise: Dr Piet Stoffelen
Institute of Plant Diseases and Plant Protection, University of Hannover, Hannover: Dr Juliana Jaramillo.
International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE), Nairobi: Dr Juliana Jaramillo
Sustainable Perennial Crops Laboratory, United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Beltsville, Maryland: Dr Fernando E. Vega.
German Research Foundation - Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Agricultural Research Service
Key papers published since 2006:
1. Jaramillo, J, Muchugu, E. Vega, F.E., Davis, A.P., Borgemeister, C. And 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(9): e24528. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0024528