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?
- B0 Meson Lifetime Difference Measured By ATLAS
- Case For Moon: Gateway To Open Ended Human Exploration, With Planetary Protection Central - On The SpaceShow
- The Real Cost Of Milk
- Can't Resist Temptation? That May Not Be A Bad Thing
- Italian Food Scientists Are Tired Of Phony Cheese
- After Losing In Government, Environmental Groups Embrace The Free Market
- Sweet Irony: The Environmental Impacts Of GMO Sugar Science Denial
- "So do i get to meet Loki? because that would be fantastic!!! ..."
- "Practically everyone in America owns a car now, though 100 years ago that was not the case. Henry..."
- "The GMO salmon is not part of a solution to feed the hungry. It may reduce bad behavior, but mostly..."
- "I agree about WA fish management. I've been writing those fish managers for years about population..."
- "Thank god that Hank Campbell, a member of the press, has written a common sense article on this..."
- Ambient Air Pollution Not Linked to Risk of Stillbirth
- Times and Bittman on Sugar Tax: Anti-Scientific and Illogical
- A New Danger at the Grill – Just in Time for Memorial Day Weekend
- Ketamine Better than Haloperidol for Sedation Onset But Not Much Else
- TIps & Tricks To Ward Off Ticks
- What is CRISPR-Cas9 and Why Do We Need to Know About It?
- Anemia negatively affects recovery from traumatic brain injuries
- Neuroscientists illuminate role of autism-linked gene
- New concept turns battery technology upside-down
- Oldest well-documented Blanding's turtle recaptured at U-M reserve at age 83
- Spring comes sooner to urban heat islands, with potential consequences for wildlife