Start Date: Dec 14, 2005
End Date: Aug 31, 2010
Various techniques will be tested in order to optimize inoculation of coffee plants with the fungal entomopathogen Beauveria bassiana: (1) spraying flowers; (2) spraying seedlings; (3) injecting spore suspensions on the stem; and (4) inoculation of radicles. To determine if B. bassiana has become established in the inoculated plants, polymerase chain reaction-based identification methods and specific molecular markers will be used. The program of exploration for new biological control agents of the coffee berry borer will be accomplished through collaborations with cooperators, such as ECOSUR (Mexico) and ICIPE (Kenya). Coffee plantations will be visited and coffee berries infected with the coffee berry borer will be sampled. Standard protocols will be used to survey for parasitoids, fungi, and nematodes attacking the insect. In addition, a cooperative working group will be established to monitor epidemiology and population dynamics of red palm mite (RPM) infestations and to determine the host range of RPM as well as initiate bioassays to identify potential predators and biocontrol microorganisms of RPM. Funded and non funded specific cooperative agreements have been or will established with government and NGO research institutes and universities in the US, Brazil, Peru countries of the Caribbean Basin to carry out greenhouse and field plot research. The goals of this project are to develop best management practices, evaluate the potential of cover crops and to assess the changes of soil quality factors that contribute to soil fertility and productivity of cacao and palm. Research will be conducted under controlled growth conditions to evaluate the influence of biotic factors on growth and nutrient use efficiency of the selected crops.