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Early detection of resistance to Coffee White Stem Borer and Leaf Rust in Philippine coffee varieties, made possible via LAMP technology

Early detection of resistance to Coffee White Stem Borer and Leaf Rust in Philippine coffee varieties, made possible via LAMP technology

A research on coffee reported the successful detection of local varieties with resistance to Coffee White Stem Borer (CWSB) and Coffee Leaf Rust (CLR)—coffee’s major insect pest and disease, respectively. CWSB feeds on the plant, which causes yellowing and drying of branches and leaves; while CLR causes wilting and defoliation, which results in up to 50% loss in production.

Adult Coffee White Stem Borer (left) and Coffee Leaf Rust (right). Image Credit: L. Shyamal, Wikimedia Commons and University of the Philippines Diliman

Funded by the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCAARRD), the two-year project, “Development of a Detection System for Pest and Disease Resistance in Philippine Coffee Varieties” led by Dr. Ernelea P. Cao of the University of the Philippines Diliman (UPD), designed two detection systems that can differentiate local coffee varieties with resistance or susceptibility to CLR and CWSB using LAMP (Loop-mediated Isothermal Amplification) technology.

Through LAMP-based assays, segments of the DNA associated with CWSB and CLR resistance taken from leaf samples are amplified, leading to the detection of resistance or susceptibility to the said insect pest and disease. The project team collaborated with the Cavite State University (CvSU) to validate the detection systems through CavSU’s coffee gene bank and other facilities.

These breakthroughs can help growers screen coffee plants that can withstand CWSB and CLR infections, which can also aid in rehabilitating devastated coffee farms.

According to Dr. Cao, they are actively working with the Department of Agriculture - Bureau of Plant Industry (DA-BPI) to formulate quarantine protocols for distributing coffee planting materials. These protocols are crucial for preventing the spread of pests in the coffee industry. Further validation of the protocols will be explored for the development of detection kits.

The project team also conducted a workshop, "Molecular Detection Methods for Assessing Resistance/Susceptibility to Coffee Leaf Rust (CLR) and Coffee White Stem Borer (CWSB) in Various Coffee Varieties," which was attended by various government agencies, academic institutions, and private agencies. The workshop aimed to educate the participants on DNA sample preparation and LAMP assay detection methods.

The development of the detection systems was highlighted during an annual project review conducted by the Crops Research Division (CRD) led by Director Leilani D. Pelegrina. Also present in the activity were S&T Consultant Dr. Rita P. Laude of the University of the Los Baños and DOST-PCAARRD key representatives from CRD, Agricultural Resources Management Research Division (ARMRD), and Office of the Executive Director for Research and Development (OED-RD).

The two detection systems developed by Dr. Cao’s team were among the DOST-PCAARRD-funded technologies recently showcased at the 19th National Biotechnology Week Exhibit held in Cebu City.