Submitted to: Naturwissenschaften
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/22/2006
Publication Date: 6/1/2006
Citation: Vega, F.E., Posada, F.J., Gianfagna, T.J., Chaves, F.C., Peterson, S.W. 2006. An insect parasitoid carrying an ochratoxin producing fungus. Naturwissenschaften. 93:297-299.
Interpretive Summary: The coffee berry borer is the most devastating pest of coffee throughout the world. Eggs are deposited inside coffee berries, and insects feed on the coffee seed, severely reducing yields. Several insect parasitoids, including Prorops nasuta, have been introduced from Africa to coffee-producing countries in an attempt to control the coffee berry borer. We have isolated the fungus Aspergillus westerdijkiae, known to produce toxic substances known as ochratoxins, from the surface of Prorops nasuta. This finding, which will be of use to coffee scientists, mycologists, entomologists, and the coffee industry, suggests that a biological control agent might help disseminate an ochratoxin-producing fungus in coffee plantations, and that this might contribute to the ochratoxin contamination problem in coffee.
Technical Abstract: The insect parasitoid Prorops nasuta has been introduced from Africa to many coffee-producing countries in an attempt to control the coffee berry borer. Sequencing of the ITS LSU-rDNA and beta-tubulin loci were used to identify a fungus isolated from the cuticle of a P. nasuta that emerged from coffee berries infected with the coffee berry borer. The sequences were compared with deposits in GenBank and the fungus was identified as Aspergillus westerdijkiae. The fungus tested positive for ochratoxin A production, with levels varying depending upon the media in which it was grown. These results raise the possibility that an insect parasitoid might be disseminating an ochratoxin-producing fungus in coffee plantations.