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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Mycology and Nematology Genetic Diversity and Biology Laboratory » Research » Research Project #427167

Research Project: Managing the Coffee Berry Borer in Puerto Rico: An Integrated Multidisciplinary Approach

Location: Mycology and Nematology Genetic Diversity and Biology Laboratory

Project Number: 8042-22000-298-11-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Jul 15, 2014
End Date: Jul 14, 2018

1) Develop an integrated GIS database that relates incidence of coffee berry borer (CBB) and biocontrol organisms to climate, soil, elevation and other available variables; 2) survey for alternate host plants and isolate biocontrol agents for the CBB in Puerto Rico; and 3) compare incidence and phenology of CBB in shade vs. sun coffee; 4) in laboratory bioassays assess virulence of indigenous B. bassiana isolates in comparison to the registered Beauveria mycoinsecticide, Mycotrol; 5) assess dispersal range of CBB by field trapping experiments to determine the effective attractive range of trapping strategies; 6) develop and optimize field applications of B. bassiana to determine its efficacy for control of CBB in Puerto Rico coffee farms; and 7) develop outreach activities to make growers, extension agents and the public aware of CBB and other invasive pests.

Coffee berry borer (CBB) was discovered in Puerto Rico in 2007 and is extremely difficult to control with chemicals as it spends most of its life cycle inside the coffee berry. A geographic information system (GIS) database relating the incidence of CBB and biocontrol organisms to climate, soil, elevation and other available variables will be developed. An island-wide survey will be conducted throughout the different coffee growing areas to determine pest infestation levels and estimate coffee damage. Farms will be sampled at regular intervals and data including CBB levels in traps, percent coffee fruits damaged, number of insects in fruits, and presence of potential biocontrol organisms will be collected. Both shade- and sun-grown coffee will be sampled for the pest. Since sun-grown coffee has higher temperatures and lower humidity than shade-grown coffee, this will allow comparisons in CBB levels while holding other variables constant. Temperature and humidity will be monitored with dataloggers in all the farms and rainfall data will be obtained. Alternate hosts that provide a reservoir for the CBB when coffee fruits are not available will be sampled. Models will be developed for the prediction of severity and spread of the pathogen in Puerto Rico. Information gathered will be used to develop management strategies for CBB and determine identity and/or population structure of potential biocontrol organisms in field situations. Phylogenies of Beauveria bassiana, a biocontrol fungus, will be developed, and lab and field experiments will be designed and conducted to determine virulence, survival and efficiency of different genotypes. Efficiency of CBB traps will be evaluated. Outreach activities will target education of growers, extension agents and the public about CBB, control strategies, and other invasive pests.