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1.  Cloning and biochemical characterization of an endo-1,4-β-mannanase from the coffee berry borer hypothenemus hampei 
BMC Research Notes  2013;6:333.
The study of coffee polysaccharides-degrading enzymes from the coffee berry borer Hypothenemus hampei, has become an important alternative in the identification for enzymatic inhibitors that can be used as an alternative control of this dangerous insect. We report the cloning, expression and biochemical characterization of a mannanase gene that was identified in the midgut of the coffee berry borer and is responsible for the degradation of the most abundant polysaccharide in the coffee bean.
The amino acid sequence of HhMan was analyzed by multiple sequence alignment comparisons with BLAST (Basic Local Alignment Search Tool) and CLUSTALW. A Pichia pastoris expression system was used to express the recombinant form of the enzyme. The mannanase activity was quantified by the 3,5-dinitrosalicylic (DNS) and the hydrolitic properties were detected by TLC.
An endo-1,4-β-mannanase from the digestive tract of the insect Hypothenemus hampei was cloned and expressed as a recombinant protein in the Pichia pastoris system. This enzyme is 56% identical to the sequence of an endo-β-mannanase from Bacillus circulans that belongs to the glycosyl hydrolase 5 (GH5) family. The purified recombinant protein (rHhMan) exhibited a single band (35.5 kDa) by SDS-PAGE, and its activity was confirmed by zymography. rHhMan displays optimal activity levels at pH 5.5 and 30°C and can hydrolyze galactomannans of varying mannose:galactose ratios, suggesting that the enzymatic activity is independent of the presence of side chains such as galactose residues. The enzyme cannot hydrolyze manno-oligosaccharides such as mannobiose and mannotriose; however, it can degrade mannotetraose, likely through a transglycosylation reaction. The Km and kcat values of this enzyme on guar gum were 2.074 mg ml-1 and 50.87 s-1, respectively, which is similar to other mannanases.
This work is the first study of an endo-1,4-β-mannanase from an insect using this expression system. Due to this enzyme’s importance in the digestive processes of the coffee berry borer, this study may enable the design of inhibitors against endo-1,4-β-mannanase to decrease the economic losses stemming from this insect.
PMCID: PMC3765340  PMID: 23965285
Endo-mannanase; Coffee berry borer; Hypotenemus hampei; Glycosyl hydrolase
2.  New Record for the Coffee Berry Borer, Hypothenemus hampei, in Hawaii 
The coffee berry borer, Hypothenemus hampei (Ferrari) (Coleoptera: Curculionidae) is endemic to Africa and is the most devastating pest of coffee worldwide. The female bores a hole in the coffee berry and deposits her eggs inside. Upon hatching, larvae feed on the seeds, thus reducing both quality and yields of the marketable product. The coffee berry borer was found in the district of Kona on the island of Hawaii in August 2010 and appears to be restricted to that area.
PMCID: PMC3281356  PMID: 22225430
bark beetle; broca; Scolytinae
3.  Cloning and expression of an endo-1,4-β-xylanase from the coffee berry borer, Hypothenemus hampei 
BMC Research Notes  2012;5:23.
The coffee berry borer, Hypothenemus hampei, reproduces and feeds exclusively on the mature endosperm of the coffee seed, which has a cell wall composed mainly of a heterogeneous mixture of hemicellulose polysaccharides, including arabinoxylans. Xylanases are digestive enzymes responsible for the degradation of xylan based polymers, hydrolyzing them into smaller molecules that are easier to assimilate by insects. We report the cloning, expression and enzymatic characterization of a xylanase gene that was identified in the digestive tract of the coffee berry borer.
The complete DNA sequence encoding a H. hampei xylanase (HhXyl) was obtained using a genome walking technique in a cDNA library derived from the borer digestive tract. The XIP-I gene was amplified from wheat (Triticum aestivum variety Soisson). A Pichia pastoris expression system was used to express the recombinant form of these enzymes. The xylanase activity and XIP-I inhibitory activity was quantified by the 3,5-dinitrosalicylic (DNS). The biological effects of XIP-I on borer individuals were evaluated by providing an artificial diet enriched with the recombinant XIP-I protein to the insects.
The borer xylanase sequence contains a 951 bp open reading frame that is predicted to encode a 317-amino acid protein, with an estimated molecular weight of 34.92 kDa and a pI of 4.84. Bioinformatic analysis revealed that HhXyl exhibits high sequence homology with endo-β-D-xylanases of Streptomyces bingchenggensis from glycosyl hydrolase 10 (GH10). The recombinant xylanase showed maximal activity at pH 5.5 and 37°C. XIP-I expressed as a recombinant protein inhibited HhXyl activity in vitro and caused individual H. hampei mortality in bioassays when included as a supplement in artificial diets.
A xylanase from the digestive tract of the coffee berry borer was identified and functionally characterized. A xylanase inhibitor protein, XIP-I, from wheat was shown to be a potent inhibitor of this xylanase, suggesting that its deployment has potential as a strategy to control coffee berry borer colonization of coffee plants.
PMCID: PMC3283504  PMID: 22233686
4.  On the Eyes of Male Coffee Berry Borers as Rudimentary Organs 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e85860.
The coffee berry borer, Hypothenemus hampei, is the most damaging insect pest of coffee worldwide. Like males in other species in the genus, male coffee berry borers have a lower number of facets in the compound eyes than females. The rudimentary eyes in male coffee berry borers could be an evolutionary response to their cryptic life habit, whereby they are born inside a coffee berry and never leave the berry. The main objective of the study was to determine if the differences in the number of facets translates into differences in visual acuity. We used low-temperature scanning electron microscopy to visualize and quantify the number of facets in the compound eyes. There was a significantly lower (p<0.0001) number of facets in males (19.1±4.10) than in females (127.5±3.88). To assess visual acuity, we conducted optomotor response experiments, which indicate that females respond to movement, while males did not respond under the conditions tested. The coffee berry borer is an example of an insect whereby disuse of an organ has led to a rudimentary compound eye. This is the first study that has experimentally tested responses to movement in bark beetles.
PMCID: PMC3896430  PMID: 24465752
5.  Some Like It Hot: The Influence and Implications of Climate Change on Coffee Berry Borer (Hypothenemus hampei) and Coffee Production in East Africa 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(9):e24528.
The negative effects of climate change are already evident for many of the 25 million coffee farmers across the tropics and the 90 billion dollar (US) coffee industry. The coffee berry borer (Hypothenemus hampei), the most important pest of coffee worldwide, has already benefited from the temperature rise in East Africa: increased damage to coffee crops and expansion in its distribution range have been reported. In order to anticipate threats and prioritize management actions for H. hampei we present here, maps on future distributions of H. hampei in coffee producing areas of East Africa. Using the CLIMEX model we relate present-day insect distributions to current climate and then project the fitted climatic envelopes under future scenarios A2A and B2B (for HADCM3 model). In both scenarios, the situation with H. hampei is forecasted to worsen in the current Coffea arabica producing areas of Ethiopia, the Ugandan part of the Lake Victoria and Mt. Elgon regions, Mt. Kenya and the Kenyan side of Mt. Elgon, and most of Rwanda and Burundi. The calculated hypothetical number of generations per year of H. hampei is predicted to increase in all C. arabica-producing areas from five to ten. These outcomes will have serious implications for C. arabica production and livelihoods in East Africa. We suggest that the best way to adapt to a rise of temperatures in coffee plantations could be via the introduction of shade trees in sun grown plantations. The aims of this study are to fill knowledge gaps existing in the coffee industry, and to draft an outline for the development of an adaptation strategy package for climate change on coffee production. An abstract in Spanish is provided as Abstract S1.
PMCID: PMC3173381  PMID: 21935419
6.  Production of Beauveria bassiana Fungal Spores on Rice to Control the Coffee Berry Borer, Hypothenemus hampei, in Colombia 
Two isolates of fungal entomopathogen Beauveria bassiana (Balsamo) Vuillemin (Hypocreales: Clavicipitaceae) were grown on cooked rice using diphasic liquid-solid fermentation in plastic bags to produce and harvest spore powder. The cultures were dried and significant differences were found for isolates and time of harvest. The spores were harvested manually and mechanically and after the cultures were dried for nine days, when moisture content was near 10%. After harvesting, spores were submitted to quality control to assess concentration, germination, purity, moisture content, particle size and pathogenicity to the coffee berry borer, Hypothenemus hampei (Ferrari) (Coleoptera: Curculionidae). Spore productivity on cooked rice was less than 1×1010 spores/g using both manually and mechanically harvesting methodologies. Germination at 24 hours was over 75% and pathogenicity against H. hampei was over 92.5%. This methodology is suitable for laboratory and field studies, but not for industrial production when a high concentration of spores are required for formulation and field applications.
PMCID: PMC3127422
spore harvesting; germination; pathogenicity; broca
7.  Cryptosexuality and the Genetic Diversity Paradox in Coffee Rust, Hemileia vastatrix 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(11):e26387.
Despite the fact that coffee rust was first investigated scientifically more than a century ago, and that the disease is one of the major constraints to coffee production - constantly changing the socio-economic and historical landscape of the crop - critical aspects of the life cycle of the pathogen, Hemileia vastatrix, remain unclear. The asexual urediniospores are regarded as the only functional propagule: theoretically, making H. vastatrix a clonal species. However, the well-documented emergence of new rust pathotypes and the breakdown in genetic resistance of coffee cultivars, present a paradox.
Methods and Results
Here, using computer-assisted DNA image cytometry, following a modified nuclear stoichiometric staining technique with Feulgen, we show that meiosis occurs within the urediniospores. Stages of spore development were categorised based on morphology, from the spore-mother cell through to the germinating spore, and the relative nuclear DNA content was quantified statistically at each stage.
Hidden sexual reproduction disguised within the asexual spore (cryptosexuality) could explain why new physiological races have arisen so often and so quickly in Hemileia vastatrix. This could have considerable implications for coffee breeding strategies and may be a common event in rust fungi, especially in related genera occupying the same basal phylogenetic lineages.
PMCID: PMC3216932  PMID: 22102860
8.  Identification and characterization of the Non-race specific Disease Resistance 1 (NDR1) orthologous protein in coffee 
BMC Plant Biology  2011;11:144.
Leaf rust, which is caused by the fungus Hemileia vastatrix (Pucciniales), is a devastating disease that affects coffee plants (Coffea arabica L.). Disadvantages that are associated with currently developed phytoprotection approaches have recently led to the search for alternative strategies. These include genetic manipulations that constitutively activate disease resistance signaling pathways. However, molecular actors of such pathways still remain unknown in C. arabica. In this study, we have isolated and characterized the coffee NDR1 gene, whose Arabidopsis ortholog is a well-known master regulator of the hypersensitive response that is dependent on coiled-coil type R-proteins.
Two highly homologous cDNAs coding for putative NDR1 proteins were identified and cloned from leaves of coffee plants. One of the candidate coding sequences was then expressed in the Arabidopsis knock-out null mutant ndr1-1. Upon a challenge with a specific strain of the bacterium Pseudomonas syringae (DC3000::AvrRpt2), analysis of both macroscopic symptoms and in planta microbial growth showed that the coffee cDNA was able to restore the resistance phenotype in the mutant genetic background. Thus, the cDNA was dubbed CaNDR1a (standing for Coffea arabica Non-race specific Disease Resistance 1a). Finally, biochemical and microscopy data were obtained that strongly suggest the mechanistic conservation of the NDR1-driven function within coffee and Arabidopsis plants. Using a transient expression system, it was indeed shown that the CaNDR1a protein, like its Arabidopsis counterpart, is localized to the plasma membrane, where it is possibly tethered by means of a GPI anchor.
Our data provide molecular and genetic evidence for the identification of a novel functional NDR1 homolog in plants. As a key regulator initiating hypersensitive signalling pathways, CaNDR1 gene(s) might be target(s) of choice for manipulating the coffee innate immune system and achieving broad spectrum resistance to pathogens. Given the potential conservation of NDR1-dependent defense mechanisms between Arabidopsis and coffee plants, our work also suggests new ways to isolate the as-yet-unidentified R-gene(s) responsible for resistance to H. vastatrix.
PMCID: PMC3212813  PMID: 22023696
9.  Overview of the functional virulent genome of the coffee leaf rust pathogen Hemileia vastatrix with an emphasis on early stages of infection 
Hemileia vastatrix is the causal agent of coffee leaf rust, the most important disease of coffee Arabica. In this work, a 454-pyrosequencing transcriptome analysis of H. vastatrix germinating urediniospores (gU) and appressoria (Ap) was performed and compared to previously published in planta haustoria-rich (H) data. A total of 9234 transcripts were identified and annotated. Ca. 50% of these transcripts showed no significant homology to international databases. Only 784 sequences were shared by the three conditions, and 75% were exclusive of either gU (2146), Ap (1479) or H (3270). Relative transcript abundance and RT-qPCR analyses for a selection of genes indicated a particularly active metabolism, translational activity and production of new structures in the appressoria and intense signaling, transport, secretory activity and cellular multiplication in the germinating urediniospores, suggesting the onset of a plant-fungus dialogue as early as at the germ tube stage. Gene expression related to the production of carbohydrate-active enzymes and accumulation of glycerol in germinating urediniospores and appressoria suggests that combined lytic and physical mechanisms are involved in appressoria-mediated penetration. Besides contributing to the characterization of molecular processes leading to appressoria-mediated infection by rust fungi, these results point toward the identification of new H. vastatrix candidate virulence factors, with 516 genes predicted to encode secreted proteins.
PMCID: PMC3953675  PMID: 24672531
appressorium; coffee leaf rust; germinating urediniospore; haustorium; pyrosequencing; transcriptome
10.  α-Amylase inhibitor-1 gene from Phaseolus vulgaris expressed in Coffea arabica plants inhibits α-amylases from the coffee berry borer pest 
BMC Biotechnology  2010;10:44.
Coffee is an important crop and is crucial to the economy of many developing countries, generating around US$70 billion per year. There are 115 species in the Coffea genus, but only two, C. arabica and C. canephora, are commercially cultivated. Coffee plants are attacked by many pathogens and insect-pests, which affect not only the production of coffee but also its grain quality, reducing the commercial value of the product. The main insect-pest, the coffee berry borer (Hypotheneumus hampei), is responsible for worldwide annual losses of around US$500 million. The coffee berry borer exclusively damages the coffee berries, and it is mainly controlled by organochlorine insecticides that are both toxic and carcinogenic. Unfortunately, natural resistance in the genus Coffea to H. hampei has not been documented. To overcome these problems, biotechnological strategies can be used to introduce an α-amylase inhibitor gene (α-AI1), which confers resistance against the coffee berry borer insect-pest, into C. arabica plants.
We transformed C. arabica with the α-amylase inhibitor-1 gene (α-AI1) from the common bean, Phaseolus vulgaris, under control of the seed-specific phytohemagglutinin promoter (PHA-L). The presence of the α-AI1 gene in six regenerated transgenic T1 coffee plants was identified by PCR and Southern blotting. Immunoblotting and ELISA experiments using antibodies against α-AI1 inhibitor showed a maximum α-AI1 concentration of 0.29% in crude seed extracts. Inhibitory in vitro assays of the α-AI1 protein against H. hampei α-amylases in transgenic seed extracts showed up to 88% inhibition of enzyme activity.
This is the first report showing the production of transgenic coffee plants with the biotechnological potential to control the coffee berry borer, the most important insect-pest of crop coffee.
PMCID: PMC2914071  PMID: 20565807
11.  Thermal Tolerance of the Coffee Berry Borer Hypothenemus hampei: Predictions of Climate Change Impact on a Tropical Insect Pest 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(8):e6487.
Coffee is predicted to be severely affected by climate change. We determined the thermal tolerance of the coffee berry borer , Hypothenemus hampei, the most devastating pest of coffee worldwide, and make inferences on the possible effects of climate change using climatic data from Colombia, Kenya, Tanzania, and Ethiopia. For this, the effect of eight temperature regimes (15, 20, 23, 25, 27, 30, 33 and 35°C) on the bionomics of H. hampei was studied. Successful egg to adult development occurred between 20–30°C. Using linear regression and a modified Logan model, the lower and upper thresholds for development were estimated at 14.9 and 32°C, respectively. In Kenya and Colombia, the number of pest generations per year was considerably and positively correlated with the warming tolerance. Analysing 32 years of climatic data from Jimma (Ethiopia) revealed that before 1984 it was too cold for H. hampei to complete even one generation per year, but thereafter, because of rising temperatures in the area, 1–2 generations per year/coffee season could be completed. Calculated data on warming tolerance and thermal safety margins of H. hampei for the three East African locations showed considerably high variability compared to the Colombian site. The model indicates that for every 1°C rise in thermal optimum (Topt.), the maximum intrinsic rate of increase (rmax) will increase by an average of 8.5%. The effects of climate change on the further range of H. hampei distribution and possible adaption strategies are discussed. Abstracts in Spanish and French are provided as supplementary material Abstract S1 and Abstract S2.
PMCID: PMC2715104  PMID: 19649255
12.  Climate Change or Urbanization? Impacts on a Traditional Coffee Production System in East Africa over the Last 80 Years 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e51815.
Global environmental changes (GEC) such as climate change (CC) and climate variability have serious impacts in the tropics, particularly in Africa. These are compounded by changes in land use/land cover, which in turn are driven mainly by economic and population growth, and urbanization. These factors create a feedback loop, which affects ecosystems and particularly ecosystem services, for example plant-insect interactions, and by consequence agricultural productivity. We studied effects of GEC at a local level, using a traditional coffee production area in greater Nairobi, Kenya. We chose coffee, the most valuable agricultural commodity worldwide, as it generates income for 100 million people, mainly in the developing world. Using the coffee berry borer, the most serious biotic threat to global coffee production, we show how environmental changes and different production systems (shaded and sun-grown coffee) can affect the crop. We combined detailed entomological assessments with historic climate records (from 1929–2011), and spatial and demographic data, to assess GEC's impact on coffee at a local scale. Additionally, we tested the utility of an adaptation strategy that is simple and easy to implement. Our results show that while interactions between CC and migration/urbanization, with its resultant landscape modifications, create a feedback loop whereby agroecosystems such as coffee are adversely affected, bio-diverse shaded coffee proved far more resilient and productive than coffee grown in monoculture, and was significantly less harmed by its insect pest. Thus, a relatively simple strategy such as shading coffee can tremendously improve resilience of agro-ecosystems, providing small-scale farmers in Africa with an easily implemented tool to safeguard their livelihoods in a changing climate.
PMCID: PMC3544928  PMID: 23341884
13.  Chitinolytic enzymes of the rumen ciliate Eudiplodinium maggii 
Folia Microbiologica  2012;57(4):317-319.
The ability of rumen ciliates to digest chitin is clearly recognized. We investigated the chitinolytic system of the rumen ciliate Eudiplodinium maggii. The ciliates were grown in a selectively faunated sheep. They were isolated from the rumen and purified by sedimentation. A crude enzyme preparation was prepared following incubation of ciliates with antibiotics. This was done in order to reduce their contamination with intracellular bacteria. The activity of particular enzymes was examined by quantification of the products released from specific substrates. It was stated that the optimum conditions for the detected activities varied between 4.5 and 5.5 pH, and 45 and 55 °C. β-N-Acetylglucosaminidase was found as an enzyme of the highest activity (4.2 μmol/l released product per mg protein per h). The activities of endochitinase and exochitinase were almost two times lower than that of β-N-acetylglucosaminidase. Zymographic studies revealed the presence of two endochitinases, two exochitinases and two β-N-acetylglucosaminidases in the examined preparation.
PMCID: PMC3389239  PMID: 22528307
14.  A new method to evaluate the biocontrol potential of single spore isolates of fungal entomopathogens 
Fifty Beauveria bassiana (Balsamo) Vuillemin (Ascomycota: Hypocreales) strains isolated from the coffee berry borer were used to develop a novel screening method aimed at selecting strains with the highest biocontrol potential. The screening method is based on percent insect mortality, average survival time, mortality distribution, percent spore germination, fungal life cycle duration, and spore production on the insect. Based on these parameters, only 11 strains merited further study. The use of a sound scientific protocol for the selection of promising fungal entomopathogens should lead to more efficient use of time, labor, and financial resources in biological control programs.
PMCID: PMC1615244  PMID: 17119619
Hypothenemus hampei; coffee berry borer; broca; Beauveria; bioassays
15.  Coffee Berry Borer Joins Bark Beetles in Coffee Klatch 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e74277.
Unanswered key questions in bark beetle-plant interactions concern host finding in species attacking angiosperms in tropical zones and whether management strategies based on chemical signaling used for their conifer-attacking temperate relatives may also be applied in the tropics. We hypothesized that there should be a common link in chemical signaling mediating host location by these Scolytids. Using laboratory behavioral assays and chemical analysis we demonstrate that the yellow-orange exocarp stage of coffee berries, which attracts the coffee berry borer, releases relatively high amounts of volatiles including conophthorin, chalcogran, frontalin and sulcatone that are typically associated with Scolytinae chemical ecology. The green stage of the berry produces a much less complex bouquet containing small amounts of conophthorin but no other compounds known as bark beetle semiochemicals. In behavioral assays, the coffee berry borer was attracted to the spiroacetals conophthorin and chalcogran, but avoided the monoterpenes verbenone and α-pinene, demonstrating that, as in their conifer-attacking relatives in temperate zones, the use of host and non-host volatiles is also critical in host finding by tropical species. We speculate that microorganisms formed a common basis for the establishment of crucial chemical signals comprising inter- and intraspecific communication systems in both temperate- and tropical-occurring bark beetles attacking gymnosperms and angiosperms.
PMCID: PMC3779205  PMID: 24073204
16.  Characterization and Ultrastructural Localization of Chitinases from Metarhizium anisopliae, M. flavoviride, and Beauveria bassiana during Fungal Invasion of Host (Manduca sexta) Cuticle 
Extracellular chitinases have been suggested to be virulence factors in fungal entomopathogenicity. We employed isoelectric focusing and a set of three fluorescent substrates to investigate the numbers and types of chitinolytic enzymes produced by the entomopathogenic fungi Metarhizium anisopliae, Metarhizium flavoviride, and Beauveria bassiana. Each species produced a variety of N-acetyl-(beta)-d-glucosaminidases and endochitinases during growth in media containing insect cuticle. M. flavoviride also produced 1,4-(beta)-chitobiosidases. The endochitinases could be divided according to whether they had basic or acidic isoelectric points. In contrast to those of the other two species, the predominant endochitinases of M. anisopliae were acidic, with isoelectric points of about 4.8. Sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis resolved the acidic chitinases of M. anisopliae into two major bands (43.5 and 45 kDa) with identical N-terminal sequences (AGGYVNAVYFY TNGLYLSNYQPA) similar to an endochitinase from the mycoparasite Trichoderma harzianum. Use of polyclonal antibodies to the 45-kDa isoform and ultrastructural immunocytochemistry enabled us to visualize chitinase production during penetration of the host (Manduca sexta) cuticle. Chitinase was produced at very low levels by infection structures on the cuticle surface and during the initial penetration of the cuticle, but much greater levels of chitinase accumulated in zones of proteolytic degradation, which suggests that the release of the chitinase is dependent on the accessibility of its substrate.
PMCID: PMC1388803  PMID: 16535278
17.  Codon optimisation improves the expression of Trichoderma viride sp. endochitinase in Pichia pastoris 
Scientific Reports  2013;3:3043.
The mature cDNA of endochitinase from Trichoderma viride sp. was optimised based on the codon bias of Pichia pastoris GS115 and synthesised by successive PCR; the sequence was then transformed into P. pastoris GS115 via electroporation. The transformant with the fastest growth rate on YPD plates containing 4 mg/mL G418 was screened and identified. This transformant produced 23.09 U/mL of the recombinant endochitinase, a 35% increase compared to the original strain bearing the wild-type endochitinase cDNA. The recombinant endochitinase was sequentially purified by ammonia sulphate precipitation, DE-52 anion-exchange chromatography and Sephadex G-100 size-exclusion chromatography. Thin-layer chromatography indicated that the purified endochitinase could hydrolyse chito-oligomers or colloidal chitin to generate diacetyl-chitobiose (GlcNAc)2 as the main product. This study demonstrates (1) a means for high expression of Trichoderma viride sp. endochitinase in P. pastoris using codon optimisation and (2) the preparation of chito-oligomers using endochitinase.
PMCID: PMC3807108  PMID: 24154717
18.  Validation of reference genes for normalization of qPCR gene expression data from Coffea spp. hypocotyls inoculated with Colletotrichum kahawae 
BMC Research Notes  2013;6:388.
Coffee production in Africa represents a significant share of the total export revenues and influences the lives of millions of people, yet severe socio-economic repercussions are annually felt in result of the overall losses caused by the coffee berry disease (CBD). This quarantine disease is caused by the fungus Colletotrichum kahawae Waller and Bridge, which remains one of the most devastating threats to Coffea arabica production in Africa at high altitude, and its dispersal to Latin America and Asia represents a serious concern. Understanding the molecular genetic basis of coffee resistance to this disease is of high priority to support breeding strategies. Selection and validation of suitable reference genes presenting stable expression in the system studied is the first step to engage studies of gene expression profiling.
In this study, a set of ten genes (S24, 14-3-3, RPL7, GAPDH, UBQ9, VATP16, SAND, UQCC, IDE and β-Tub9) was evaluated to identify reference genes during the first hours of interaction (12, 48 and 72 hpi) between resistant and susceptible coffee genotypes and C. kahawae. Three analyses were done for the selection of these genes considering the entire dataset and the two genotypes (resistant and susceptible), separately. The three statistical methods applied GeNorm, NormFinder, and BestKeeper, allowed identifying IDE as one of the most stable genes for all datasets analysed, and in contrast GADPH and UBQ9 as the least stable ones. In addition, the expression of two defense-related transcripts, encoding for a receptor like kinase and a pathogenesis related protein 10, were used to validate the reference genes selected.
Taken together, our results provide guidelines for reference gene(s) selection towards a more accurate and widespread use of qPCR to study the interaction between Coffea spp. and C. kahawae.
PMCID: PMC3849654  PMID: 24073624
19.  Expression cloning and humoral immune response to the nucleocapsid and membrane proteins of equine arteritis virus. 
To provide a convenient and sensitive method for the detection of equine arteritis virus (EAV)-specific serum antibodies, we developed an immunoblot assay employing the EAV nucleocapsid (N) and membrane (M) proteins expressed in a procaryotic expression vector (pMAL-c2) for the production of recombinant maltose-binding (MBP) fusion proteins (MBP-N and MBP-M). The antigenic reactivity of the recombinant fusion proteins and their Xa factor cleavage EAV products was confirmed by immunoblot using horse antisera to EAV. Some horse sera, however, showed immune reactivity to the MBP fusion partner protein. Based on a total of 32 horse sera analyzed for the presence of EAV antibodies by immunoblot, using the MBP-N or -M fusion proteins and the Xa factor cleavage EAV products, and in the serum neutralization test, there was 100% concordance between the assays. Sera from horses experimentally infected with EAV were reactive in the immunoblot test with both the MBP-N and the MBP-M fusion proteins by day 14 after EAV exposure. The reactivity continued to the end of the experiment at day 145 after infection. This immune reactivity correlated with the detection of neutralizing antibodies in the serum samples. Based on these findings, the recombinant N and M proteins might be useful for serodetection of EAV-infected animals.
PMCID: PMC170634  PMID: 9384283
20.  Cuticle-degrading proteases produced by the entomopathogenic fungus Beauveria bassiana in the presence of coffee berry borer cuticle 
Brazilian Journal of Microbiology  2008;39(2):301-306.
A Brazilian isolate of Beauveria bassiana (CG425) that shows high virulence against the coffee berry borer (CBB) was examined for the production of subtilisin-like (Pr1) and trypsin-like (Pr2) cuticle-degrading proteases. Fungal growth was either in nitrate-medium or in CBB cuticle-containing medium under both buffered and unbuffered conditions. In unbuffered medium supplemented with cuticle, the pH of cultures dropped and Pr1 and Pr2 activities were detected in high amounts only at a pH of 5.5 or higher. In buffered cultures, Pr1 and Pr2 activities were higher in medium supplemented with cuticle compared to activities with nitrate-medium. The Pr1 and Pr2 activities detected were mostly in the culture supernatant. These data suggest that Pr1 and Pr2 proteases produced by strain CG425 are induced by components of CBB cuticle, and that the culture pH influences the expression of these proteases, indicating the occurrence of an efficient mechanism of protein secretion in this fungus. The results obtained in this study extend the knowledge about protease production in B. bassiana CG425, opening new avenues for studying the role of secreted proteases in virulence against the coffee berry borer during the infection process.
PMCID: PMC3768393  PMID: 24031220
subtilisin-like protease; trypsin-like protease; Hypothenemus hampei
21.  Characterization of the Immunostimulatory Properties of Leishmania infantum HSP70 by Fusion to the Escherichia coli Maltose-Binding Protein in Normal and nu/nu BALB/c Mice 
Infection and Immunity  1998;66(1):347-352.
Leishmania infantum HSP70 has been described as an immunodominant antigen in both humans and dogs suffering from visceral leishmaniasis. In this study, we used L. infantum HSP70 fused to Escherichia coli maltose-binding protein (MBP), as the reporter protein, to analyze the influence of HSP70 on the immunogenicity of MBP in BALB/c mice. Plasmids were constructed to produce the three recombinant proteins used in this study, namely, MBP, L. infantum HSP70, and MBP-HSP70, which consists of MBP fused to the L. infantum HSP70 amino terminus. Immunization of BALB/c mice with the MBP-HSP70 fusion protein elicited humoral and cellular responses against MBP that were higher by an order of magnitude than those elicited by immunization with MBP alone or with a mixture of MBP and HSP70. Covalent linkage of MBP to HSP70 was essential for eliciting a strong anti-MBP immune response. Cytokine secretion and immunoglobulin G isotype analyses indicated that immunization with the MBP-HSP70 fusion protein preferentially induces a Th1 immune response. Immunization of athymic nu/nu mice with the MBP-HSP70 fusion protein unexpectedly gave rise to an anti-MBP humoral response showing features of a T-cell-dependent response. Thus, we present evidence that L. infantum HSP70 demonstrates an adjuvant effect in the immune response against a covalently linked reporter protein.
PMCID: PMC107897  PMID: 9423878
22.  Organization and molecular evolution of a disease-resistance gene cluster in coffee trees 
BMC Genomics  2011;12:240.
Most disease-resistance (R) genes in plants encode NBS-LRR proteins and belong to one of the largest and most variable gene families among plant genomes. However, the specific evolutionary routes of NBS-LRR encoding genes remain elusive. Recently in coffee tree (Coffea arabica), a region spanning the SH3 locus that confers resistance to coffee leaf rust, one of the most serious coffee diseases, was identified and characterized. Using comparative sequence analysis, the purpose of the present study was to gain insight into the genomic organization and evolution of the SH3 locus.
Sequence analysis of the SH3 region in three coffee genomes, Ea and Ca subgenomes from the allotetraploid C. arabica and Cc genome from the diploid C. canephora, revealed the presence of 5, 3 and 4 R genes in Ea, Ca, and Cc genomes, respectively. All these R-gene sequences appeared to be members of a CC-NBS-LRR (CNL) gene family that was only found at the SH3 locus in C. arabica. Furthermore, while homologs were found in several dicot species, comparative genomic analysis failed to find any CNL R-gene in the orthologous regions of other eudicot species. The orthology relationship among the SH3-CNL copies in the three analyzed genomes was determined and the duplication/deletion events that shaped the SH3 locus were traced back. Gene conversion events were detected between paralogs in all three genomes and also between the two sub-genomes of C. arabica. Significant positive selection was detected in the solvent-exposed residues of the SH3-CNL copies.
The ancestral SH3-CNL copy was inserted in the SH3 locus after the divergence between Solanales and Rubiales lineages. Moreover, the origin of most of the SH3-CNL copies predates the divergence between Coffea species. The SH3-CNL family appeared to evolve following the birth-and-death model, since duplications and deletions were inferred in the evolution of the SH3 locus. Gene conversion between paralog members, inter-subgenome sequence exchanges and positive selection appear to be the major forces acting on the evolution of SH3-CNL in coffee trees.
PMCID: PMC3113787  PMID: 21575174
23.  Influence of Temperature and Humidity on the Efficacy of Spinosad Against Four Stored-Grain Beetle Species 
In the present work, we examined the insecticidal effect of spinosad, against adults of the lesser grain borer, Rhyzopertha dominica (F.) (Coleoptera: Bostrychidae), the rice weevil, Sitophilus oryzae (L.) (Coleoptera: Curculionidae), the confused flour beetle, Tribolium confusum Jacquelin du Val (Coleoptera: Tenebrionidae) on wheat and the larger grain borer, Prostephanus truncatus (Horn) (Coleoptera: Bostrychidae) on maize. The dose rates used were 0.01, 0.1, 0.5 and 1 ppm. The bioassays were carried out at three temperatures, 20, 25 and 30°C and two relative humidity levels, 55 and 75%. Mortality of R. dominica and S. oryzae was high even at 0.01 ppm of spinosad, reaching 100% at 55% relative humidity and 30° after 21 days of exposure. Generally, mortality of R. dominica, increased with temperature while for S. oryzae mortality increased with temperature and with the decrease of relative humidity. Moreover, for S. oryzae, mortality was low at 20°C. In the case of T. confusum, mortality was low at doses between 0.01 and 0.5 ppm even after 21 days of exposure. At 1 ppm, mortality exceeded 90% only at 30°C and only after 21 days of exposure. Mortality of P. truncatus was low on maize treated with 0.01 ppm, but increasing the dose to 0.1 ppm resulted in > 87% mortality after 14 days of exposure. In several combinations tested, spinosad efficacy notably varied according to the temperature and humidity regimes. Of the species tested, R. dominica and P. truncatus were very susceptible to spinosad, followed by S. oryzae, while T. confusum was the least susceptible.
PMCID: PMC3062500  PMID: 20302538
spinosad; wheat; maize; abiotic conditions; grain protectants; Rhyzopertha dominica; Sitophilus oryzae; Tribolium confusum; Prostephanus truncatus
24.  Isolation and characterization of a chitinase gene from entomopathogenic fungus Verticillium lecanii 
Brazilian Journal of Microbiology  2008;39(2):314-320.
Entomopathogenic fungus Verticillium lecanii is a promising whitefly and aphid control agent. Chitinases secreted by this insect pathogen have considerable importance in the biological control of some insect pests. An endochitinase gene Vlchit1 from the fungus was cloned and overexpressed in Escherichia coli. The Vlchit1 gene not only contains an open reading frame (ORF) which encodes a protein of 423 amino acids (aa), but also is interrupted by three short introns. Vlchit1 protein showed that the chitinase Vlchit1 has a (a/b)8 TIM barrel structure. Overexpression test and Enzymatic activity assay indicated that the Vlchit1 is a functional enzyme that can hydrolyze the chitin substrate, so the Vlchit1 gene can service as a useful gene source for genetic manipulation leading to strain improvement of entomopathogenic fungi or constructing new transgenic plants with resistance to various fungal and insects pests.
PMCID: PMC3768391  PMID: 24031223
Chitinase; Cloning; Overexpression; Homology modeling; Verticillium lecanii
25.  Chitinase activities, scab resistance, mycorrhization rates and biomass of own-rooted and grafted transgenic apple 
Genetics and Molecular Biology  2012;35(2):466-473.
This study investigated the impact of constitutively expressed Trichoderma atroviride genes encoding exochitinase nag70 or endochitinase ech42 in transgenic lines of the apple cultivar Pinova on the symbiosis with arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF). We compared the exo- and endochitinase activities of leaves and roots from non-transgenic Pinova and the transgenic lines T386 and T389. Local and systemic effects were examined using own-rooted trees and trees grafted onto rootstock M9. Scab susceptibility was also assessed in own-rooted and grafted trees. AMF root colonization was assessed microscopically in the roots of apple trees cultivated in pots with artificial substrate and inoculated with the AMF Glomus intraradices and Glomus mosseae. Own-rooted transgenic lines had significantly higher chitinase activities in their leaves and roots compared to non-transgenic Pinova. Both of the own-rooted transgenic lines showed significantly fewer symptoms of scab infection as well as significantly lower root colonization by AMF. Biomass production was significantly reduced in both own-rooted transgenic lines. Rootstock M9 influenced chitinase activities in the leaves of grafted scions. When grafted onto M9, the leaf chitinase activities of non-transgenic Pinova (M9/Pinova) and transgenic lines (M9/T386 and M9/T389) were not as different as when grown on their own roots. M9/T386 and M9/T389 were only temporarily less infected by scab than M9/Pinova. M9/T386 and M9/T389 did not differ significantly from M9/Pinova in their root chitinase activities, AMF root colonization and biomass.
PMCID: PMC3389536  PMID: 22888297
apple; chitinase; mycorrhiza; transgenic

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