Scientists from the University of Kentucky and the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology in Kenya have discovered a new predatory thrips – Karnyothrips flavipes – which feeds on the eggs and larvae of the coffee berry borer Hypothenemus hampei.
The authors say the discovery could have important implications for the management of the coffee berry borer throughout the world. Their study, the first to quantitatively prove predation on the coffee berry borer, is published online in Naturwissenschaften - The Science of Nature.
The coffee berry borer H. hampei is the most widespread coffee pest in coffee producing countries. Yearly coffee losses are estimated at US $500 million, affecting the income of more than 20 million rural households in the tropics. The female coffee borer drills galleries into the coffee berries where she deposits her eggs. The larvae then feed on the coffee berries. Because the pest's lifecycle occurs mainly inside the coffee berry, H. hampei is very difficult to control, particularly in countries which pride themselves on their organic coffee production.
During routine dissections of coffee berries in Western Kenya, Dr. Jaramillo observed, for the first time, adult thrips K. flavipes feeding on eggs of the coffee berry borer. Further observations in the laboratory showed that K. flavipes adults also prey on the larvae of H. hampei. She found that K. flavipes enters the coffee berry through the tiny hole bored by H. hampei and also deposits its eggs inside the berries. Newly hatched thrips then continue to develop inside the berries.
Using molecular techniques, the researchers detected the presence of small amounts of prey DNA in the digestive tracts of the predators by analyzing their gut contents. Nearly 18,000 H. hampei-infested coffee berries from 100-150 trees were collected in the Kisii area of Western Kenya between January and September 2008. In total, over 3,000 K. flavipes emerged from the borer-infested berries and pest DNA was detected in 8.3 percent of DNA extractions of the predator. The highest percentage of positive results occurred in April, when 47 percent emerging K. flavipes tested positive for H. hampei DNA.
These findings confirm for the first time the presence of a coffee berry borer predator in Africa, based on molecular gut content analysis. The authors believe that K. flavipes has the potential to have a significant impact on H. hampei populations in other coffee growing regions. Controlling this pest could potentially help stabilize coffee harvest and market value.
They conclude: "Our findings provide coffee growers and coffee scientists with new insights into a biological control agent that could be conserved and augmented in coffee growing regions where it occurs. This predator could make a significant contribution to integrated pest management of H. hampei."
Citation: J Jaramillo et al., 'Molecular diagnosis of a previously unreported predator-prey association in coffee: Karnyothrips flavipes Jones (Thysanoptera: Phlaeothripidae) predation on the coffee berry borer', Naturwissenshaften; doi 10.1007/s00114-009-0641-7
- PHYSICAL SCIENCES
- EARTH SCIENCES
- LIFE SCIENCES
- SOCIAL SCIENCES
Subscribe to the newsletter
Stay in touch with the scientific world!
Know Science And Want To Write?
- 3 Papers Discuss The Molecular Toolkits We Share With Flies And Worms
- Global 'Roadmap' Shows Where To Put Roads Without Costing The Earth
- Proton-Proton Fusion: Looking Into The Heart Of The Sun
- Schrödinger's Picture: Researchers Take An Image Without Ever Detecting Light
- E-Cigarettes Versus Cigarettes: 10X Decrease In Second-Hand Smoke
- Old Dope, New Tricks: The New Science Of Medical Cannabis
- Meet BPA-Free, The New BPA
- "I learned that you are moving the goalposts. You first claimed that anything not found in nature..."
- "My father studied law in UK and was a Middle Templar. I doubt I can afford to emulate. ..."
- "Then why not endorse homeopathy and raw milk? Homeopathy has never killed anyone directly and in..."
- "No, I'm not creating a false equivalence. What I am seeing is a pattern on Website after..."
- "I dont see why this similarity seems to be so surprising. I would think it obvious given evolution..."