, Volume 97, Issue 3, pp 291–298 | Cite as

Molecular diagnosis of a previously unreported predator–prey association in coffee: Karnyothrips flavipes Jones (Thysanoptera: Phlaeothripidae) predation on the coffee berry borer

  • Juliana Jaramillo
  • Eric G. Chapman
  • Fernando E. Vega
  • James D. Harwood


The coffee berry borer, Hypothenemus hampei, is the most important pest of coffee throughout the world, causing losses estimated at US $500 million/year. The thrips Karnyothrips flavipes was observed for the first time feeding on immature stages of H. hampei in April 2008 from samples collected in the Kisii area of Western Kenya. Since the trophic interactions between H. hampei and K. flavipes are carried out entirely within the coffee berry, and because thrips feed by liquid ingestion, we used molecular gut-content analysis to confirm the potential role of K. flavipes as a predator of H. hampei in an organic coffee production system. Species-specific COI primers designed for H. hampei were shown to have a high degree of specificity for H. hampei DNA and did not produce any PCR product from DNA templates of the other insects associated with the coffee agroecosystems. In total, 3,327 K. flavipes emerged from 17,792 H. hampei-infested berries collected from the field between April and September 2008. Throughout the season, 8.3% of K. flavipes tested positive for H. hampei DNA, although at times this figure approached 50%. Prey availability was significantly correlated with prey consumption, thus indicating the potential impact on H. hampei populations.


Biological control Organic coffee Karnyothrips flavipes Hypothenemus hampei Gut-content analysis Kenya Predator–prey interactions 



We are very grateful to Mr. Charles Kamonjo (icipe) for technical assistance, Adenirin Chabi-Olaye (icipe) for statistical advice, Christian Borgemeister for helpful comments to an earlier version of the manuscript, and Steve Nakahara (USDA, ARS) for identifying the thrips. We thank Abel O. Mainya from Kisii Coffee Demonstration (Kenya) for kindly providing the coffee berries and for his help during the sampling period, Prof. Linda Field (Head of Insect Molecular Biology Group Rothamsted Research) and Prof. John A. Pickett (Head Department of Biological Chemistry, Rothamsted Research) and three anonymous reviewers who provided valuable comments on an earlier draft of the manuscript. This research was funded by the German Research Foundation—Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG). JDH and ECG are supported by the University of Kentucky Agricultural Experiment Station State Project KY008043. This is publication number 09-08-052 of the University of Kentucky Agricultural Experiment Station.

Supplementary material

114_2009_641_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (86 kb)
Supplementary Table 1 (PDF 71 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Juliana Jaramillo
    • 1
    • 2
  • Eric G. Chapman
    • 3
  • Fernando E. Vega
    • 4
  • James D. Harwood
    • 3
  1. 1.International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE)NairobiKenya
  2. 2.Institute of Plant Diseases and Plant ProtectionUniversity of HannoverHannoverGermany
  3. 3.Department of EntomologyUniversity of KentuckyLexingtonUSA
  4. 4.Sustainable Perennial Crops Laboratory, US Department of AgricultureAgricultural Research ServiceBeltsvilleUSA

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