Two genes from Streptomyces albidoflavus, one exochitinase (905-bp) and an endochitinase (1100-bp) were functionally expressed in Escherichia coli in form of a fusion protein with a maltose binding protein (MBP). The goal was to produce and test proteins that inhibit both the coffee berry borer insect Hypothenemus hampei and the coffee rust fungus Hemileia vastatrix. Both recombinant proteins MBP/exochitinase and MBP/endochitinase showed chitinolytic activity. When recombinant purified proteins were added to an artificial coffee-based diet for the coffee berry borer, MBP/exochitinase at a concentration of 0.5% W/W caused delayed growth of larvae and 100% mortality between days 8 and 15, while MBP/endochitinase caused 100% mortality at day 35. H. vastatrix urediniospores presented total cell wall degradation in their germinative tubes within 18 h of exposure to the proteins at enzyme concentrations of 5 and 6 mg ml-1, with exochitinase having the greatest effect. The dual deleterious effect of S. albidoflavus chitinases on two of the most limiting coffee pests worldwide, the coffee borer and the coffee rust, make them potential elements to be incorporated in integrated control strategies.
Keywords: Coffee-based artificial diet, Uredinospores, Arrested development, Fungal cell wall, Growth, Mortality