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Research Project: Develop Pest Management Technologies and Strategies to Control the Coffee Berry Borer

Location: Sustainable Perennial Crops Laboratory

Title: Cultivation and genome sequencing of bacteria isolated from the coffee berry borer (Hypothenemus hampei), with emphasis on the role of caffeine degradation

item Vega, Fernando
item Emche, Sarah
item Shao, Jonathan
item Simpkins, Ann
item SUMMERS, RYAN - University Of Alabama
item MOCK, MEREDITH - University Of Alabama
item EBERT, DIETER - University Of Basel
item AOKI, SAYAKA - University Of Hawaii
item Maul, Jude

Submitted to: Frontiers in Microbiology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/8/2021
Publication Date: 4/6/2021
Citation: Vega, F.E., Emche, S.E., Shao, J.Y., Simpkins, A., Summers, R., Mock, M., Ebert, D., Infante, F., Aoki, S., Maul, J.E. 2021. Cultivation and genome sequencing of bacteria isolated from the coffee berry borer (Hypothenemus hampei), with emphasis on the role of caffeine degradation. Frontiers in Microbiology. 12:644768.

Interpretive Summary: The coffee berry borer is the most devastating insect pest of coffee throughout the world and causes millions of dollars in losses each year. We report on the presence of several bacteria that are capable of degrading caffeine and which are associated with the coffee berry borer. The findings have important implications for understanding the basic biology of this important insect pest. This information will be of use to coffee scientists, entomologists, microbiologists, and the coffee industry.

Technical Abstract: The coffee berry borer is the only insect capable of feeding and reproducing solely on the coffee seed, a food source containing caffeine. Thirteen bacteria associated with the coffee berry borer were found to have at least one of five caffeine N-demethylation genes (ndmA, ndmB, ndmC, ndmD, ndmE) with Pseudomonas monteilii, P. parafulva, P. plecoglossicida, and P. putida from coffee berry borers in Hawai’i, Mexico, and a laboratory colony in Maryland having the full complement of these genes. Some of the bacteria carrying the ndm genes were found in eggs, suggesting vertically transmission, while presence of caffeine-degrading bacteria in feces, e.g., P. parafulva (ndmABCDE) and B. aryabhattai (ndmA) could result in horizontal transmission to all insect life stages. Several bacteria associated with the insect might contribute to caffeine breakdown using the C-8 oxidation pathway. There is a high bacterial diversity in the coffee agroecosystem, i.e. endophytically in coffee plants, symbiotically associated within the coffee berry borer, and in the soil. Many of these bacteria are capable of caffeine breakdown, making C and N available to the plant and lowering caffeine concentrations in the soil.