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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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Research Project: Finding Previously Unreported Biological Control Agents of the Coffee Berry Borer by Determining Alternate Host Plants

Location: Sustainable Perennial Crops

2013 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416):
This project is aimed at identifying possible alternate hosts for the coffee berry borer in its area of origin, focusing on the Rubiaceae collection at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew (RGB Kew), United Kingdom. The objective is to determine whether efforts aimed at finding previously unreported biological control agents should be re-directed towards these areas where the coffee berry borer feeds on other members of the Rubiaceae.


1b.Approach (from AD-416):
ARS and Cooperator will gain new knowledge on alternate host plants of the coffee berry borer and consequently, on where to focus a search for previously unreported biological control agents. A large electronic database compiled and developed by RBG Kew for all known collections of wild Coffea, and linked to a geographic information system (GIS), will be used to assist a targeted survey of the RBG Kew Herbarium. The Rubiaceae collection held at RBG Kew, which includes wild coffee, is the largest and most thoroughly curated in the world. The entire Coffeeae tribe within the Rubiaceae will be examined for the presence and activity of coffee berry borer. In addition, Cooperator will survey Coffeeae collections at the Museum of Natural History (Paris), The National Botanic Gardens of Belgium, and the National Herbarium of the Netherlands. The Cooperator is one of the world leading experts on Rubiaceae, the leading authority on wild coffee species, and has strong ties with scientists at the three herbaria listed above. The information gathered in this project will be used by both parties to jointly determine where to focus foreign explorations for biological control agents of the coffee berry borer.


3.Progress Report:

The survey of Kew’s collection continued with a focus on Rubiaceae (coffee family). All 125 Coffea species at Kew were examined and over 1,400 specimens in the Coffeeae tribe were surveyed for the presence of the coffee berry borer. In addition, the entire holdings of Coffea at the Natural History Museum of London was examined, as well as at the National Botanic Gardens in Belgium. We continue to see a distinct pattern of coffee berry borer infestation in Coffea, where infestation is restricted to West Africa, either on or west of the Great River Valley, with Coffea canephora being the key host within Coffea.


Last Modified: 10/1/2014
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