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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: BIOLOGICAL CONTROL OF THE COFFEE BERRY BORER Project Number: 1275-22000-242-00
Project Type: Appropriated

Start Date: Dec 14, 2005
End Date: Aug 31, 2010

1. Continue exploration and evaluation of microbial control agents with the long-term goal of developing innovative biological control methods against the coffee berry borer. 2. Focus will be on studies aimed at determining whether the fungal entomopathogen Beauveria bassiana can be used as a fungal endophyte for systemic control of the coffee berry borer and in the development of molecular techniques for detection of B. bassiana in plant tissues. 3. A search for new coffee berry borer biocontrol agents via foreign exploration for parasitoids, fungi, and nematodes will be conducted in Latin America and Africa. 4. Develop agroforestry based best management practices, and cover crop technology to improve sustainable cacao and other alternate crop production and assess soil quality factor dynamics and pesticide use and break down in various management systems and evaluate the influence of abiotic stresses on the growth and nutrient use efficiency. 5. Identify the genetic center of diversity for red palm mite, and identify predators and mycogens and other microbial agents with potential biological control. Sub-objectives: -Develop a Caribbean Basin red palm mite working group in cooperation to monitor epidemiology and population dynamics in red palm mite infestations. -Determine host range and conduct bioassay of predators and microbial candidate agents with potential for biological control.

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.

Last Modified: 7/28/2015
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