Government biologists and researchers are currently developing a detection system for coffee pests and diseases through a project funded Department of Science and Technology’s (DOST) Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD).
Dr. Ernelea P. Cao of the Institute of Biology, University of the Philippines in Diliman (UPD) leads the research and development project, dubbed “Development of a Detection System for Pest and Disease Resistance in Philippine Coffee Varieties.” The scientists will use molecular markers to differentiate resistant varieties from susceptible local coffee varieties against insect pests and diseases, said a news dispatch from PCAARRD media bureau.
Cao explained that the impact of coffee pests is only seen when they are widespread. Through the project, insect pest and disease incidences can be reduced through early screening of coffee seedlings using the detection system.
The project has designed and synthesized primers that will be used for the detection system. Loop-Mediated Isothermal Amplification (LAMP) technology was used on Coffea arabica and C. canephora varieties, producing promising results in detecting coffee white stem borer, coffee leaf rust, and coffee berry disease.
Looking ahead, the project will collect leaf samples of National Seed Industry Council (NSIC)-registered C. arabica varieties at the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) in Baguio City.
The team will compare healthy coffee leaves with coffee leaf rust and white stem borer-infested ones to validate resistant and susceptible genes identified through RNA profiling. The LAMP primers designed by the team will also be validated in coffee plantations in Batangas and Cavite.