A novel bacterial species found in the coffee berry borer actually help the beetle to degrade caffeine. This is the exciting discovery from Sayaka Aoki, who recently completed her Ph.D. dissertation under Mohammad Arif of the Dept. of Plant and Environmental Protection Sciences.
While studying the eggs of this harmful pest, Sayaka isolated and identified numerous bacterial symbionts (living in close symbiosis with the beetle) and among them were four novel species, two of which had extremely high caffeine-degrading efficiencies.
Upon further investigation to identify and visualize the bacterial-insect morphology, Sayaka discovered that the caffeine-degrading Pseudomonas sp. are vertically transmitted via eggs. This revealed a unique insect-bacterial symbiont relationship and suggests that elimination of these essential symbionts could potentially lead to the control of CBB in the future.
“Coffee growers and industries in Hawaii have suffered devastating damage imposed by CBB since 2010; I strongly hope our discovery will help Hawaii’s coffee growers in solving the CBB problem in near future,” says Sayaka. “Although this is the first report that successfully specified the identities of bacteria associated with the eggs of CBB with caffeine degradation and how these essential symbionts of CBB are transmitted, we still need additional studies for the practical application of these novel bacterial species.”